Cacti are very popular as houseplants because they are low maintenance and there is a wide variety to choose from. Their unique looks give an aesthetic look to any indoor or outdoor space effortlessly.
Here’s how to propagate cactus in 4 different ways:
- 1 How to Propagate Cactus
- 2 FAQs
How to Propagate Cactus
Propagation is a good way to expand your plant collection at a minimal cost. You can keep the propagated plants at home or give them away as gifts.
It is best to propagate cacti during their growing period. Whichever method you use, you will have a better chance of successful propagation if you propagate in late spring or early summer. Avoid propagation during heat waves or winters.
1. Propagation from Cuttings
Stems of the cactus plants are ideal for propagation from cuttings. Choose a thick, healthy stem and cut a piece at least 4 inches long. Use a sterile pair of scissors and make a clean cut.
If the cactus is prickly, you can use tongs to protect your hands from getting pricked. Leave the cutting to dry for a few days. When the wound has formed a callus, it is ready to be planted.
Find a suitable pot and fill it with a cactus potting mix. Make sure the pot has a draining hole. Insert your cutting into the soil. The callused part should be submerged under the soil.
Water the plant well and leave it in a spot that gets plenty of indirect sunlight. Water again when the soil dries out completely. Most cacti will have taken root within a month, but it can take a while for new leaves to show up.
2. Propagation from Seeds
People usually do not prefer to propagate cactus from seeds as it is a time-consuming process. Cactus seeds are harvested from the flowers and this method is usually used for cacti that have solitary growth habits.
You need to plant a lot of seeds, as not all of them will germinate and even fewer will reach maturity. First, fill a pot with a quick-draining cactus soil mix. Leave about 1 inch of space from the brim of the pot.
Lay down the seeds and space them at least 2 inches apart. Sprinkle more soil on top, covering all the seeds. Water the pot and leave it on a windowsill or shaded patio.
You can cover the pot with a plastic sheet to help trap the moisture in the soil. Spray the soil regularly to keep it moist and wipe off any condensation from the plastic sheet.
You should see seedlings develop within 3-4 weeks. Cacti have a slow growth rate, so it can take up to a year for your seedling to be ready for transplantation. Since the seedlings are quite small, use a fork to extract them gently with the root system intact.
3. Propagation from Offshoots
Cacti that reproduce asexually can be propagated with offshoots. Propagating from offshoots is beneficial to the parent plant as well because it has more energy to focus on its growth.
Choose an offset about 2 inches tall and separate it from the parent plant using a pair of clean gardening shears. Dry the offset until the wound heals.
Prepare a small pot by filling it with a cactus soil mix. Plant it by tucking ¼th of the offset into the soil. Cacti offshoots do not need to be watered after planting.
Place the pot in a partly shaded area and water it after 5-7 days. You can move it to a brighter spot after a week. Once the offshoot takes root, provide the same care as the parent cactus.
Grafting is a propagation method in which you take a piece of cactus and attach it to a different piece of cactus or even a whole cactus. The piece of cactus is called the scion and the rooted part is the rootstock.
Not every pair of cacti are compatible with each other. It helps if the cacti belong to the same species. There are actually many ways to graft cacti. Here’s the simplest one:
- Cleanly cut the tip of the rootstock. You can cut it at whatever height you like, but the remaining plant should be at least 2-3 inches tall.
- Mimic the cut on a different cactus. The piece you cut off will be your scion. Grafting will be easier if the scion and the rootstock have the same diameter.
- Place the scion on the rootstock and secure them together using rubber bands. The rubber band should go all the way around the pot for a stable hold.
Timing is very important here, if you leave the scion and rootstock apart for too long they will not graft successfully.
- The scion and the rootstock will have bonded together in 2 weeks. You can remove the rubber bands and care for the cactus as you usually do.
What is the fastest way to root a cactus?
Cactus cuttings and offshoots usually take a month to take root. Remember that cacti have a slow rate of growth and some species might take even longer to take root.
There is no ‘fastest’ way to root a cactus, but certain conditions will help it root faster. If you plant a cactus offshoot or cutting in the summer or early autumn, it should take root sooner. Cacti experience a growing period in these months which helps them root faster.
Can you water propagate cactus?
It is indeed possible to propagate a cactus in water. However, this method is not very common, as cacti do much better when propagated in soil.
Cactus can be propagated in water the same way as they are propagated in soil. Take cuttings or offshoots and let them dry and form calluses.
Place them in water with at least ¼th of the cutting or offshoot submerged in water. Every species of cacti cannot be propagated in water and even the ones that can don’t always take root in water.
It all depends on what the cactus needs and if the environment is conducive to its growth.
How do you root a broken piece of cactus?
Rooting a broken piece of cactus is technically the same as propagating from cuttings. The broken piece needs to be long enough, at least 4 inches long to be able to take root.
Let the piece dry out so the wound can form a callus. Take a pot and fill it with a cactus potting mix. Insert the broken piece into the soil with the wound submerged in the soil.
Water the plant whenever the soil dries out. Take care not to overwater, as cacti do not require a lot of water to thrive.
The broken piece of cactus should take root within a month.
How often do you water cactus cuttings?
How often you water your cactus cuttings depends on several factors. Plant the cutting in damp soil. You can make do with dry soil if the weather in your area is humid.
Lightly spritz the pot with water whenever the soil dries out completely. The soil needs to stay damp but shouldn’t get soaked.
Once the cutting has taken root, you can start watering it. Follow the same rule for watering—water whenever the soil is dry. This method helps you avoid root and stem rot which are often caused by overwatering.
How long does it take to root cactus cuttings?
It depends on the weather and the species of the cactus, but you can expect cactus cuttings to root within a month of planting. If your cutting hasn’t rooted in a month, it should take root within 2 more weeks.