Cactus is a great addition to the home thanks to its striking shape, size, and flowers. It’s a unique, decorative way to add an accent to any living space, whether it's on your windowsill or arranged together on a shelf.
Besides, increasing your cactus collection without spending a single penny is simple. Even beginners will be able to perform it easily through cuttings, offset, or pad propagation, and it gets much easier with practice. And through this article, you will learn all the tricks you need to know, which will prepare you to start propagating your cacti in many ways to your heart's content.
When to Propagate Cactus?
Just like any succulents, there are also a number of ways to propagate cactus. But no matter what method you choose to expand your cactus collection, you should know that it is always best to propagate cactus when it is actively growing, which usually happens in late Spring or Summer for most cacti. This should give you a higher chance of success, especially if you decide to propagate your cactus from cuttings, as its roots can establish more quickly during this time.
When NOT to propagate cactus?
1. During heatwave
It is not wise to propagate cacti when there's a heatwave. Your cactus is already stressed fighting for its survival during this time, and propagating will only add more stress, as its focus will be divided on healing and regrowing at the same time.
But if your cactus is grown indoors and/or kept at a controlled temperature, then propagating during a heatwave should not pose any threat to its well-being.
2. During dormancy period
Most cactus go dormant or shuts down during frost or under freezing temperatures. During this time, your cactus is more prone to disease and rot. With that in mind, it is advisable to wait until the temperature calms down before propagating for the optimal survival of your cactus.
How to propagate from cuttings
Photo credit: laidbackgardener.blog
Most cacti can be easily propagated from stem cuttings, especially those whose stems are formed of segments like blue candles, prickly pears, and Christmas cacti.
Step 1: First, choose a healthy stem (those who are at least 10cm long) and cut it off cleanly using a clean sharp scissor. For spiny cacti, it is recommended to use tongs when handling them. Then, lay your cuttings on a windowsill area and leave them until they healed.
Step 2:Fill a pot with cactus peat, then insert the base of your cutting. Make sure that you insert it deep enough to stand upward. To help promote root growth, you may also dip your cuttings in rooting hormone powder right before planting (if you have some available).
Step 3:Water generously, then place the pot on a warm windowsill, ideally away from direct sunlight and cover them with a plastic bag.
Step 4: Check your cuttings every now and then, and water only when the soil feels dry. Most cactus will root within a month, but it may take longer for new growth to show.
How to propagate from a pad
Growing your cactus from pads propagation is one of the easiest and popular methods
Step 1: Grab a cactus pad (one that’s at least 6 months old) with your tongs and break it off of the main plant. If you don't have tongs, make sure to put on gloves since these cacti are spiky. For most cacti, this will be easy to do and you’ll get a clean break. If you find this difficult, use a clean sharp knife and cut one of the pads off.
Step 2: Once your pad has calloused over, lay them flat right on top of the soil. Then simply soak the soil with water (like what you would do for a full-grown cactus). It is important to check the soil every now and then to make sure that they are fairly moist. This will motivate their roots to grow faster. You may also choose to dip the cut base of the pad in rooting hormone before laying it on top of the soil to stimulate root growth.
It is important to check the soil every now and then to make sure that they are fairly moist.
Step 3: Once your pads formed a good root system, cut back on your watering. This will help lessen the chance of getting them to rot due to over-watering.
How to propagate from the offset
In general, most cacti, like Thimble Cactus, are capable of producing offsets, or what we usually call "pups". These so-called pups can easily be separated from the parent plant to perform propagation. Doing this type of propagation is rather faster and often has the highest success rate compared to other methods.
Step 1: Pick a cactus with lots of offsets. Choose an offset that is at least the size of a small ball (about 1.5-2 inches long), as they tend to be healthier and stronger and will increase your chance of success in propagating it.
Step 2:Remove the offsets from the parent plant using your hand by twisting it around from the connection point between the mother plant and a pup, then gently break it until it disconnects. You may also use a clean sharp knife to cute the connection point.
Step 3: After drying up your pup, you may apply or dip the cut end of the pup in rooting hormone powder for faster root growth (this completely optional). Once you are done, you may now plant your pup by inserting 1/4 of its stem in the soil and leaving it in a shaded area for days, then slowly transfer it to a lighter spot. DO NOT water your pup right after planting them. Instead, wait for about 5-7 days before watering as this will lessen any risk of rotting or other infections.
How to graft cactus
Grafting cactus is basically a straightforward method where you attach a piece or even a whole cactus (called the "scion") onto a wounded piece of another cactus (the "rootstock") to create a single plant. This way, you won't just be able to create a whole new form of cactus but also increase the growth rate of a scion, as it will get the nutrients it needs from the rootstock, which can really be beneficial for slow-growing species. For more information, you can visit the blog on How to graft a cactus.
So, are you ready to start propagating and growing your cactus collection? If you still don't have a cactus to propagate, you can always get some of these unique and stunning cacti from Succulents Box to help you get started.
Enjoy your gardening with our collection of beautiful cacti. They are easy to grow, incredibly adaptable, relatively pest-free, and are low maintenance - ideal for any home, office, or garden to make a perfect green space.
You can also watch this video to see some of the tips in action:
Please see more Cactus Care Guide 101 to ensure years of enjoyment.
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