I am a giant fan of the Xmas cactus as a house plant. It has unique leaf shapes, it’s flowers are spectacular, it boosts green thumb confidence, and it likes to be ignored. Plus, they grow big, don’t have spikes, and cutting a is easy to propagate!
I have an 11 year old red one, gifted to me in a 6 inch pot, and now it’s 3 feet+ in diameter!
Still gorgeous after 11 years! Notice how the leaves have a reddish tinge too.
So, why all this talk about Xmas cacti when we are well past Xmas? Because most are finishing up their bloom cycle and it’s time to take cuttings!
If you have a happy plant that first bloomed more around Thanksgiving. It may be setting buds for a second bloom; so be sure to check your plant carefully. If it does have buds, wait to take cuttings until after it’s finished.
To propagate all you need is:
A healthy Xmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgessii) not in bloom or bud
Vermiculite or a Cactus specific potting mix
Clean 4 inch pots in clay or plastic and a try to put them in.
Optional: powdered rooting hormone
The light pink petals with white stamen and fuschia stigma is spectacular.
Take the Cutting
From your healthy plant, make a Y shaped cutting(s) from the stem. Make sure your cutting has 2-3 segments on the vertical stick part of the Y. Ideally it will just have a 1-2 segments on the upper part of the Y too, but the number of segments there is more flexible.
Root the Cutting
Fill your pots with moist, but not wet, vermiculite or cactus potting mix. Too wet will cause rot.
If you are using rooting hormone, put a little in a bowl and dip the base of the Y in it. Then plant about one fourth of the length of the 2-3 vertical segments into the potting mix.
Place your cutting, or tray of cuttings, in bright indirect light.
Water sparingly the first few weeks to prevent rot.
If you live in a very dry climate, you can cover your tray with a plastic sprouting tray cover or you can drape some plastic wrap over them to up the humidity a bit. Try to avoid having direct heat or AC blow on them as well to prevent dry out.
After a couple week, gently pull on the cuttings. If they resist, then they have grown roots and you can slightly increase watering. Remember these are in the cactus family so try to ignore them a little!
Once the cutting begins to show new growth from the tips of the Y, repot into a cactus or succulent potting mix if you used vermiculite.
The color is so intense!
Care for your plant
The key to a happy Xmas cactus is:
- bright, but no direct full sunlight
2. medium to high humidity
3. moist but not wet soil with good drainage.
At home, a bathroom with an uncovered north facing window is a great place as is a kitchen.
Keep it out of the direct sun because that will burn the leaves, but the brighter the light the more blooms. I keep mine outside under the porch on the northwest side of my house and they are really happy and full of blooms.
I like this one because as the blooms age they turn from pink to white but keep their pink stigma!
To boost humidity, you can set the pot in a decorative tray of pebbles and add water to the pebbles regularly. This creates a sort of humidity bubble around your plant. And remember, avoid placing it in the wind of a heat or AC vent. This will zap all the humidity away.
Water every 2 weeks or so in the spring and summer, but in the winter, let the plant get pretty dry. In some situations you could avoid watering for 6 weeks!
Outdoors, water every couple weeks or ignore and let the rain take care of it like I usually do! I also feed mine a couple times a year with a liquid succulent and cactus fertilizer. Really I mostly ignore them and they reward me with huge blooms every year!
Will you try your green thumb at propagating Xmas cactus? Who can you take on this adventure with you?
Children, students, friends, grandma? I like to take kids.
Share your pics of your cuttings on Instagram #wingswormsandwonder!
Seeds to Sprout:
If you do this propagation project with your children, students, or self, try keeping a propagation journal for your cuttings. Document in picture sand words everything from watering schedules and amounts, cutting and growth measurements, types of soil, growth observation dates, and whatever amazing wonders of nature you discover! I hope my instructions drawings inspire you to do this!
This is a really awesome Holistic Creative eAdventure intended to empower, nurture and celebrate your innate creative expression, healing journey, and personal development!
Interested in making 12 handmade journals and learning 18 different ways to fill them (4 from me personally because I am a core teacher in the course and an affiliate and my 1st lesson went live today!!!)?
Join the Wings, Worms, and Wonder online nature journaling school! I’m about to put 2 free classes inside!