Propagating Cactus

Propagation is a great way to create more plants, allowing you to expand your collection or share your favorite plants with others. Cacti are generally easy plants to propagate. Desert cacti may have sharp spines, so wear gloves and be careful when handling them. Propagating cacti depends on the cultivar, but the process is generally easy. New plants often need several weeks to grow roots and a few more weeks to establish enough of a root system to support the new plant.

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Methods To Propagate Cactus

Propagate cactus houseplants by offshoots or stem cuttings. Most desert cacti plants send out offshoots, while forest cacti can be propagated through stem cuttings. Both methods are easy, but the ideal method depends on the specific plant. Growing cacti from seed is possible but the process is much slower and requires patience.

Best Rooting Media To Propagate Cactus

Use a dry, well-drained potting mix to propagate cactus pups or cuttings. A potting mix formulated for cacti or a general mix amended with perlite will work well. Cactus pups or cuttings often need damp conditions, but too much moisture is harmful. Overly wet or soggy conditions will harm the new plant.

Steps To Propagate Cactus

Step 1 - Identify a small plant, known as an offshoot or pup, growing alongside the parent plant. Offshoots can be removed from the parent plant when they are a couple of inches tall.

Step 2 - Push the potting mix aside and trim the root connecting the pup to the parent plant using clean, sharp shears or a knife. Wear gloves if the cactus has sharp spines.

Step 3 - Replace the soil and continue to care for the parent plant as usual.

Step 4 - Let the pup sit out for a few days to a week until the cut end dries out and calluses over.

Step 5 - Place the cutting in a small pot filled with a well-draining potting mix. Make sure the pot has drainage holes.

Step 6 - Place the cutting in bright indirect sunlight and water when the soil is dry. Roots will grow in several weeks.

Caring For Cactus Pups

Cactus offshoots need about 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight and damp but never soggy conditions. Water when the top layer of the soil is dry. The ideal spot will be warm and somewhat humid. Do not fertilize a cactus cutting or new pup.

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Transplanting Cactus Cuttings

The cactus cutting should grow new roots after a few weeks. It will take a few more weeks for the root system to grow enough to support the plant. The cutting should be a full-fledged plant after about 6 to 8 weeks. At that time, switch to a watering routine for an established plant and continue to provide lots of bright, indirect sunlight.

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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 12-05-2023