Unlocking the Mystery of Cacti Reproduction

If you are one of those who have fallen in love with cacti or want to start a business, learn how to reproduce and multiply them. It is very simple.

how do cacti reproduce
“Cactuses or Cacti, that is the question” by Jonathon Walker is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

These little plants, members of the great family of succulents, have become increasingly popular. They are pretty, ornamental and do not require great care. If you want to multiply them at home or start a business, learn in these simple steps how to reproduce cacti and join a very fun hobby.

There are different methods for you to reproduce your favorite cacti. It can be done from seeds, cuttings, offsets, plant division and grafting. In the case of cacti that do not have flowers or fruits, as they do not have seeds, they can only reproduce with the cuttings method or by offsets.

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How do Cacti Reproduce?

Before learning how to reproduce cacti , it is important that you know what cuttings and offses are so that it is easy for you to understand the steps to follow.

Cactus Cuttings

Cuttings are small plant fragments that are separated in order to reproduce. Stem fragments, shoots, weak branches or stakes can be cut through diagonal cuts.

Growing a Cactus from a Cutting

Growing a cactus from a cutting involves learning a series of steps. Keep in mind that it is a form of asexual reproduction because the plant does not need to be fertilized to reproduce.

A cutting can fall from the plant spontaneously by the act of the wind or an animal. In this case, it takes root in the earth and develops a new plant. That is the natural process. The manual way is to cut a cutting, which can be a shoot, a bit of a stem or a twig, being careful not to damage the plant or the cutting.


How to Plant a Cactus Cutting

Now that you’ve learned how to make cuttings, follow these steps to learn how to plant a cactus cutting:

  1. First dry the cutting and the cut plant by sprinkling cinnamon over the wounds. You can put the cutting in a plate with sand, taking care that it does not get wet, and protected from the sun for at least 5 days.
  2. When the wound is healed, you can plant the cutting in a moist substrate with the callous facing down. That way the roots will grow. If you want to accelerate the growth process, you can apply hormones, but it is not the most advisable. The best thing is that it grows naturally.
  3. Within a few days, the roots will have grown. Then you can transfer it to a pot. Use a large pot and dig deep enough for the roots to have room to grow well. Insert a plant stake in the hole, so that the growing plant has a firm base to support.
  4. Finally, water the plant in the usual way that cacti require: a little amount of water and checking that the substrate and soil are loose so that it drains well and does not get waterlogged.

The best time to reproduce cacti by cuttings is in the spring and into early summer. At this time, the plant recovers very well developing new shoots and the cutting quickly becomes a new plant.

growing a cactus from a cutting
“Cactaceae” by iocto is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Propagating Cactus Offsets

The offsets, unlike the cuttings, are small plants that are produced at the base of the stem or on the sides of the branches or leaves of the mother plant. As in the case of cuttings, propagating cactus offsets is a method of asexual reproduction.

How to Separate Cactus Babies

  1. With tweezers or other sharp and disinfected tools, remove the offset from the cactus.
  2. Once extracted, you must protect the offset from excessive humidity and the sun for one or two weeks so that the wound area heals well.
  3. When the offset cut is cured, you can plant it in sandy and well-drained substrates.
  4. During the first month, give it plenty of water. As it grows, reduce the amount until it becomes an adult cactus and give it the normal water requirements.
  5. After a month, surely the first roots will have grown. It is then time to replant them. Remember that the best time to replant is in spring and early summer.

How to Graft a Moon Cactus

Making a graft is very simple. The process consists of joining two parts of different plants, seeking to join them and remain as a single plant.

The recipient plant is called the rootstock and it is the cactus that provides the roots and part of the stem. On it we are going to put the graft of the other chosen plant, known as a scion.

Read also:
How Big Does A Moon Cactus Get?


What are grafts done for?

  • It is yet another method of reproduction.
  • The red, pink, orange or yellow cacti are very attractive but they do not have chlorophyll to feed them and, therefore, they do not last long. By grafting them onto a strong, green cactus, you ensure that they have enough food and live long.

When is the best time to graft cactus?

The best time to make grafts is spring and early summer. In the middle of summer and until the beginning of autumn they can also be done, but it is not recommended.

Steps to Graft Cactus

  1. A week before making the graft, fertilize and water the plants well so that they are very strong.
  2. The recipient cactus, which is the rootstock, must be a new, tender cactus to accept the graft and not expel it. The same happens with the graft: it must be from a young plant that is up to 3 years old at most.
  3. Make the cut with a well-sharpened and disinfected instrument (it can be a cutter, scalpel, knife, etc.).
  4. To the receiving cactus, you have to cut the tip and, in each rib, you must make a diagonal cut downwards.
how to graft a cactus
“Grafting” by lars hammar is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
  1. Now, slice the part you want to graft from the other cactus at the base and place it on the tip. Do not put it exactly centered but to one side so that it grows to one side and the plant continues to grow upwards.
  2. Hold the 2 grafted parts well so that no air remains. Do it with grafting tapes so that they grip well.
  3. Keep the plant in a warm place and water wisely.
  4. After about 15 days, the parts will be joined and you can now remove the grafting tapes.
  5. Finally, until the graft is strong, take care of the plant from excessive sun and water.

You’ll soon see your green cactus grow into a bunch of multi-colored flowers. You will be proud of your skills as a gardener!


How to Transplant a Cactus

Like all plants, when a cactus grows too big for the pot in which it is planted, you should change it to a larger one so that the plant continues to grow in a healthy way. This process is very simple: you just have to be careful with the thorns and not hurt the roots.

The right time to transplant your cactus is when the roots come out of the holes in the pot. And the ideal time for this is also spring (never during winter).

  1. Wear thick leather gloves to protect your hands when handling the cactus.
  2. Loosen the soil from the pot and, using a knife, cut out a circle around the cactus. When it is completely cut, remove it with the solid mass of the soil.
  3. If the pot is plastic, you can squeeze it with 2 hands and the mass of soil with the cactus will loosen.
  4. Remember that the thorns are very sharp and could pierce the gloves. You can protect yourself with a cloth or sheets of paper so as not to puncture yourself.
  5. Once you have removed the cactus from the pot, clean the roots well from the pieces of hard soil and carefully separate them so they do not break.
how to transplant cactus
  1. If any of the roots are rotten or diseased, cut them off and apply some fungicide to kill the pest. Let the roots dry for at least 4 days to prevent rotting or infection from cutting.
  2. Now prepare a larger pot, with a thick soil substrate at the base. Make a hole for the plant to enter and be very firm. Then, you can put some gravel or looser soil on top to make sure the water drains well.
  3. Now grab the cactus protecting your hands and put it in the center of the pot. Carefully fill the pot with cactus soil without pressing so that the roots are not damaged. Check that it has been well located, so that the roots are below the ground and the green part, above.
  4. Finally, you can add a bit of slightly acidic compost to balance the soil’s pH. Wait several days before watering the plant and give it recovery time. Then take care of the plant as cacti usually require.

Replanting a Cactus with No Root

Replanting a cactus with no root is a relatively simple process, you just have to carefully follow a series of steps that we will show below.

But before starting, you must make sure you have the necessary basic implements that will not only help you protect yourself, since cacti can hurt you, but will guarantee an excellent job and a positive result.

Things you need

1. Sharp and sterilized knife

It can be a sharp razor or a knife. The most important thing is not only that it is sharp, but that it is sterilized. In this way, you will prevent the arm of the cactus that you cut from being contaminated with fungi and bacteria.

To sterilize your knife, you just have to apply alcohol to it, put it to boil in hot water at the boiling point, that is, when the bubbles come out, and even put it to heat over a live fire.

2. Newspaper

It seems silly, but the newspaper will be a great ally when planting a cactus without roots. Remember that cacti have thorns that can hurt you. If you have leather gloves for cacti, wear them instead.

Finally, you will need to let your cacti dry for a while before transplanting them, and there is no better place than on top of a newspaper, in a dry, cool and airy environment.

3. Wood ashes

Wood ashes are true allies in gardening. Not only is it an excellent fertilizer, it also allows you to prevent the spread of fungi and bacteria.

You just have to be careful that the ashes are white, and they are made of wood, that way they will be more effective for your plants.

4. Suitable substrate

To grow healthy and strong, cacti require a suitable substrate. Naturally, this substrate is sandy soil with excellent drainage.

To obtain the suitable substrate, in our pots or in our garden, we only have to place a little gravel at the bottom, and then on top, a substrate of coarse sand and compost in the same proportion, making sure that it is not compact.

How to plant a cactus without roots?

  1. Choose the correct time to plant the cactus, this must necessarily be in spring or summer, otherwise, you will not get satisfactory results.
  2. Select one of the arms of the cactus, hold it carefully with newspapers or gloves, and cut it with a sharp, sterile knife.
  3. Apply wood ashes to both the original plant and the cutting, or arm that you cut.
  4. Put your cactus arm to dry for 5 days, also, during this time you can apply a rooting hormone of your choice, although it is not mandatory.
  5. Prepare your pot or the soil in your garden with a suitable substrate, and dig a hole of 3 cm.
  6. Place your cactus without pressing it, and fill the hole with soil. If necessary, place stakes if it falls.
  7. Do not water for about 6 days.

How to Plant Cactus Seeds

To experience firsthand how a magnificent cactus develops from a tiny seed fascinates young and old hobby gardeners alike. Pure seeds are available from specialist retailers, from cactus clubs or in exchange rings. These instructions explain how to successfully sow cactus seeds yourself.

Does cactus have seeds?

All cacti bloom and, if fertilized, emit a fruit just like for all (or almost) plants in nature. The seeds are inside the fruit and should be collected with a minimum of care. Collecting cactus seeds is not particularly difficult, but you must follow some small tricks to prevent damage or even loss during collection.

First, the fruit must be fully ripe. If the fruit is already partially dry, perhaps the seeds are already visible on the inside (eg. Epithelantha, some Mammillaria) and in this case, it is sufficient to pick it up, rub the fruit between your fingers on a horizontal plane and easily collect the seeds. When the fruit is not ripe, it will tend to remain attached to the plant resisting the outward traction: in these cases, it is best not to force it, but wait for its complete maturation.

The seeds of some plants are contained within special capsules that open when the fruit is still on the plant and the seeds fall down on the mother plant’s body (eg Strombocactus, Notocactus). Thus it’s very difficult to penetrate with your hands or tweezers among the thorns to go to pick them up; you can use the so-called “seeds-aspirator”. It is a very simple tool that allows aspirating the seeds inside a small container so as to avoid their dispersion.

Growing cactus from seed – how to do it

The germination of cactus seeds is greatly improved if you soak the seeds in advance. For this purpose, fill the seeds into an empty tea bag and hang it for 45 minutes in a thermos that is filled with water at 50 to 55 degrees.

Do use purely mineral substrate for sowing, such as fine-grain lava granulate or perlite. This ensures that the delicate roots are supplied with air and water in the right proportion. A potting soil with humic components is not structurally stable enough for a long period of up to 12 months and carries the risk of mold formation.

While the soaked seeds are drying on absorbent kitchen paper, pour the substrate into square pots. A 4 x 4 cm pot is big enough to sow 10 to 30 seeds. Then spray the substrate with soft, lukewarm water or horsetail tea until it is saturated. How to proceed:

  1. Scatter the seeds and press down
  2. Sieve thinly with lime-free quartz sand and moisten again
  3. Put notes on the pots on which species are sown and the date of sowing
  4. Place the pots in a germination box and close the lid with the exception of a matchstick-thin gap
  5. Spray regularly with soft water in a bright location at 16 to 28 degrees Celsius

When to transplant cactus seedlings

Once the seedlings have reached a diameter of 0.5 to 1 cm, they can be pricked out. This measure is usually carried out after 12 to 14 months. As a rule of thumb, the older a seedling, the better it will cope with the procedure.

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