If you’re a gardener or enjoy growing indoor plants, then you likely already know that a plant cutting is used to propagate or grow another plant of the same type. Instead of using seeds, a plant cutting is planted using a piece of a plant’s root or stem section to jump-start the growing process.
If you are looking to propagate a Christmas cactus, then you are in luck because succulents tend to grow quite easily from leaves, cuttings, and offsets (Offsets are short, lateral shoots, bearing clustered leaves at the tips, and are capable of taking root as plant daughters).
Here we will demonstrate 3 ways to plant Christmas cactus cuttings for the best chance of growing a new healthy, flowering plant.
How to Plant Christmas Cactus Cuttings
Planting Christmas Cactus in Water
The easiest way to plant a Christmas cactus cutting is to start by coaxing the roots to grow out of cutting. Start with a jar filled with a small amount of water to use as a rooting vessel.
Place the cutting, cut-end down, into the jar, far enough in the water to cover two of the plant’s nodes (which is the base portion of the plant attached to the stem of a bud, leaf, twig, or branch). Situate the jar in a well lit area that receives bright, indirect sunlight most hours of the day. During warm months, you can even grow a Christmas cactus cutting outdoors.
You may soon begin to see roots start developing from the cutting, but wait 6 to 8 weeks for the roots to fully grow. In the meantime, keep watch on the cutting, add more water as needed to keep the plant nodes submerged.
Keep in mind that you will still have to perform the delicate procedure of transferring the Christmas cactus cutting with its roots into soil. At that time, follow the directions for growing succulents upright in soil.
Growing succulents in soil
If you have a relatively large Christmas cactus cutting that has around 3-4 pads (nodes) on each stem, and with good cut ends, then you can propagate a new cactus by planting the cutting in a small amount of soil or by laying it on top of a good soil mix for Christmas cacti.
Before planting, the cutting should rest a few days in a dry location with indirect sunlight.
This process will ensure a better transition from shoot to root.
Afterwards, plant cutting in fresh potting soil specifically for cacti and succulents. Make sure the bottom pad is covered completely with soil.
Use soil with a good drainage system to prevent plant rotting and lightly water the transplant, allowing the soil to get just dry between each watering. After 2 to 3 weeks, the roots should be formed enough for the plant to be treated as a successful propagation.
Smaller Christmas cactus cuttings (with only 2 or 3 pads) can develop a root system simply by laying the cut plant flat on top of the soil instead of planting. After 2 to 3 weeks of keeping the soil lightly moist, you should see new roots coming from the point where the cactus pads meet.
Always start with a healthy cutting
Each Christmas cactus branch will have sections that are linked together and are called pads. Your best cutting will be one that is cut from the very bottom of a pad, at the place where it is connected to another pad. It can be tricky to prevent tearing the cutting when trying to separate the pads.
If you do damage to the cutting, simply toss it out because the chances of a successful propagation are highly unlikely.
To separate the cactus pad from the plant, gently twist it away. This way, the cactus pads come apart more easily without being made in the process.