Propagating Christmas cactus is simple, and a great way to get more of your favorite plant. In this post, I’ll tell you the different methods you can try. Then I will show you when and how to propagate them by cuttings or division.
It may sound like it would be difficult, but propagating your favorite Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) is actually very easy.
Not only is it a great way to expand your collection, it’s also fun to share them with friends. They make excellent holiday gifts.
Below I will show you exactly how to propagate Christmas cactus. I’ll also talk about three different methods you can try, and when is the best time to do it.
Then I will give you the full step by step instructions so you can quickly be successful (with lots of pictures too!).
Table of Contents
Christmas Cactus Propagation Methods
Before we get any further, let’s talk about the different methods you can use for propagating a Christmas cactus. There are three possible approaches you could take.
1. From Cuttings
The easiest and most common technique for propagating Schlumbergera is by rooting the stem segments. Thankfully, taking cuttings is simple.
As I’m sure you’ve probably noticed, they have flat green segments that branch out from the main stem.
It’s possible to root them from either a single segment (a leaf), or a longer cutting made up of several of them.
Keep in mind that while both can work, a single leaf will take much longer to mature into a full-sized plant.
2. By Division
You can also divide mature Xmas cacti that have more than one main stem coming out of the soil.
The process requires a bit more handling of the plant. But it can give you two larger ones more quickly than you could by propagating it through other methods.
3. From Seeds
Finally it is possible to propagate Christmas cacti from seeds, and it’s a fun experiment to try if yours produces any.
If the flowers are fertilized, small fruits will form. Once they ripen, they contain viable seeds that you can collect and plant.
You’ll need to break the ripe fruits open, clean, dry, and immediately sow any that you find. Otherwise, they won’t store well.
Related Post: Plant Propagation: A Detailed Guide For Beginners
When To Propagate Christmas Cactus
The best time to propagate a Christmas cactus is after it has finished blooming, and the flowers have fallen off.
Late spring or summer is the best time to divide them or take cuttings. But wait until after it has completely finished blooming and the flowers have fallen off.
This will give them plenty of time to become established in their new home before they start flowering again.
Supplies For Propagating Christmas Cacti
Since this is such a simple process, you don’t even need many tools to get the job done. Here is a quick list of supplies I recommend to make Schlumbergera propagation quick and easy.
- Healthy mature Christmas cactus plant
- Potting soil or rooting medium
- Rooting hormone (for cuttings)
Related Post: The Best Plant Propagation Tools, Equipment & Supplies
How To Propagate Christmas Cactus From Stem Cuttings
The first method we’ll discuss is how to propagate Christmas cactus by cuttings. This is a simple and very reliable technique for creating new plants from your mature one.
How To Take Stem Cuttings From Schlumbergera
Finding the perfect segment is usually pretty easy. Simply locate a healthy stem that you’re comfortable removing.
I highly recommend picking one that has 3 to 5 segments. Smaller ones take much longer to mature, and larger ones are top heavy, making it difficult to keep them stable while rooting.
Regardless of the size you choose, it’s most important to remove them from the plant correctly.
Rather than cutting them off, I recommend gently twisting the stem where it’s attached to the segment below. If the bottom breaks or tears above the connecting joint, it may not root.
Preparing Stem Cuttings For Propagation
To get your Christmas cactus cuttings ready for propagation, simply let them sit in a dry, open area for a few days to cure.
This allows the wound to heal and callus over, which helps to resist rot as the roots develop.
Don’t wait much longer than 2 to 3 days however. If they begin to shrivel up, they may not root.
Propagating Christmas Cactus From Leaves
With a bit of patience, propagating a Christmas Cactus from a leaf is just as easy as a full stem. Here are my best tips for getting a single segment to root successfully.
How To Take Schlumbergera Leaf Cuttings
Remove single leaves just as you would the longer stems. Carefully twist them off at the point where they’re attached to the segment below.
If the bottom of the leaf breaks or tears, it won’t root. So it’s important to gently remove them with a bit of twisting, rather than pinching or cutting them off.
Preparing Leaves For Propagation
Single leaves will dry and shrivel pretty quickly. So, I recommend that instead of curing them, you plant them right away.
Related Post: Propagating Succulents From Stem Cuttings Or Leaves
Rooting Christmas Cactus Cuttings (Stems & Leaves)
Now that you know how to properly remove the segments, it’s time to learn about getting them to root. Below you’ll find my step by step instructions for rooting Christmas cactus cuttings (both stems and leaves).
Steps For Propagating Christmas Cactus In Soil
Propagating Schlumbergera in soil is my preferred method, and the one I recommend to you. Soil-rooted cuttings tend to produce stronger plants, and they are less likely to rot in the process.
Lucky for us, both the leaves and stems are very easy to root, and can be handled in almost the same way.
Step 1: Prepare your pot with fast-draining soil – Make sure to use a commercial quick-draining soil that is lightweight. If it retains too much water, the cuttings will likely rot.
Step 2: Moisten the rooting medium – Just dampen the soil, without making it sodden. Allow any excess to fully drain from the bottom of the pot before adding your cuttings.
Step 3: Dust the cut ends with rooting hormone – Both freshly plucked leaves or callused over stems will root faster and more successfully when you use rooting hormone.
It is optional, so you could certainly try without it if you want. To use it, simply dust the cut ends before planting them.
Step 4: Plant the cuttings – Plant them about halfway up the bottom segment. Then gently pack down the rooting medium to keep the stem or leaf upright.
Step 5: Place in a warm, well lit location – Keep them in a bright and warm location out of direct sun while they’re rooting.
How To Divide A Christmas Cactus
If you have a mature Christmas cactus with multiple main stems, propagating it by division is an effective way to get new plants quickly. Those that have become pot-bound are good candidates for this.
Steps For Dividing The Rootball
Step 1: Gently remove the rootball from the pot – Place one hand over the top of the soil to hold the plant in place. Be careful not to tug or pull on the main stem or you may damage it.
Then tip the pot and tap on the side or bottom to loosen the rootball and slide it out. You can run a trowel along the inside of the pot to help dislodge it if necessary.
Step 2: Separate the stems – Gently tease the roots apart to separate them. It’s usually pretty quick to untangle them by hand.
But it’s better to cut through some of the smaller ones if you need to rather than force it by pulling and tugging them apart.
If necessary, use sharp, clean clippers to cut through any roots that won’t give up so you can separate the stems more easily.
Step 3: Repot the division into fresh soil – As long as they have roots, each division can be immediately repotted into a fresh soil mixture. Simply plant them at the same depth they were in the original container.
If you end up with any that don’t have roots, or some of the segments break off in the process, follow the steps for rooting cuttings above.
Step 4: Water lightly – Give your new babies a small drink, and place them in bright, indirect light to allow them to recover.
How Long Does It Take A Christmas Cactus To Root?
It can take as long as one month for a Christmas cactus to root. So you’ll need to be patient for at least 3 to 4 weeks.
There are two ways to check if they have rooted. You can gently tug on them to see if there’s any resistance.
Otherwise, look at the tips of the segment for signs of new growth. New leaves or flower buds will begin to form when the cuttings have successfully rooted.
Why Won’t My Schlumbergera Propagate?
There are a few reasons why your Schlumbergera won’t propagate. If they bottom of the lowest segment is ripped or broken, they won’t root.
Rot is another common issue. To prevent that, let the cut ends cure and callus for a few days before planting them.
Also, take great care not to overwater them. For best results keep the soil dry and the air humid until the roots have developed.
How To Care For Christmas Cactus Cuttings
Caring for Christmas cactus cuttings is not hard. Once they are set up to root, keep them in bright, but indirect light.
The soil should remain on the dry side, and never be wet, or they will likely rot.
If the air is not very humid, then you can mist them once in a while. You could also give them a small amount of water, but only if the soil is dry.
Repotting Schlumbergera Cuttings
When it’s time to repot your Schlumbergera cuttings, choose a container that will allow just a few inches of soil on either side of the plant.
They like to be pot-bound. Using too large of a container can cause them to skip a flowering cycle to compensate for the extra root development.
Be sure to use fast-draining, sandy soil. You can buy a commercial succulent and cacti mix, or make your own.
Below you’ll find answers to the most common Christmas cactus propagation questions. If you don’t find your question answered here, please ask it in the comments section below.
Can you root a piece of Christmas cactus in water?
Yes, you can root a piece of Christmas cactus in water. However, this is a more difficult method.
Water-propagated cuttings have very delicate roots, and can suffer from severe transplant shock. But it certainly is possible. If you have extras, it’s fun to experiment.
If you want to try rooting them in water, it’s important to allow the end to completely callus over first. Also, only the very end should sit in water, or the risk of rot greatly increases.
How do I start a Christmas cactus from a broken piece?
Unfortunately, a broken piece from a Christmas Cactus will not root. A single broken segment should be discarded.
However, if the broken piece has more than one segment, then it will work. Gently twist off the damaged one, and follow the steps above to root the remaining piece of the stem.
As you can see, Christmas Cactus propagation is very easy! It’s a great way to expand your collection so you can enjoy as many blooms as you like. They also make a fabulous gift, especially for the holidays.
If you’re ready to learn how to propagate any plant you want, then my Plant Propagation eBook is for you! It will teach you everything you need to know in order to be successful reproducing all of your favorite plants. Download your copy today!
More About Plant Propagation
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- How To Propagate Banana Plants
- Plumeria Propagation & How To Root Plumeria Cuttings
Share your preferred method or tips for propagating Christmas cactus in the comments section below.