Thanksgiving cactus propagation will give you new plants to share with friends. Fortunately, it is easy to do!
It is known for its vibrant, colorful blooms and easy care. Keep reading to learn how to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus.
Thanksgiving cactus propagation
The easiest and most reliable method of propagation of Thanksgiving cactus is by stem cuttings in soil. This type of propagation works best because Schlumbergera truncata has epiphytic tendencies in its natural habitat.
This means that it is adapted to living in a humid, sheltered environment, attached to the surfaces of other plants or structures. This tendency to attach itself to other plants also means that cuttings of the plant will root more easily than other forms of propagation.
These tips for propagation of Thanksgiving cactus also works for Christmas cactus and Easter cactus. (If you don’t know which type you have, check out this post.
Follow these stems for taking stem cuttings:
When to root Thanksgiving cactus cuttings
The best time to take Thanksgiving cactus cuttings is spring or early summer. This takes advantage of warmer weather and the longer daylight hours which will help to encourage new growth.
Don’t try to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus when it is flowering, since the plant is sending energy to this process, rather than propagation.
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Gather your materials
To propagate Thanksgiving cactus with root cuttings you will need the following supplies:
- Clean, sharp scissors
- Small containers
- Well-draining potting mix (a mix designed for succulents or cacti works well), Sand is also a good rooting medium to use.
- Plastic wrap or a cut down plastic bottle
Taking stem cuttings
Choose a mature Thanksgiving cactus that has healthy growth. Avoid any dry and withered stems.
Look for segments that have no flower buds, as these are more likely to root and grow into new plants without the added burden of supporting blooms.
Carefully snip a segment of a stem that is at least 3-4 segments long. Each segment should be about 2-3 inches in length.
It is possible to take cuttings with just a single leaf, but if you make sure your cuttings have several segments, you’ll end up with a larger plant more quickly.
Make a clean cut just below a joint or segment. If any of the segments have epiphytic roots already growing at the joint, these will root more quickly.
I like to choose a Y shaped stem with at least 3 joined segments.
Using a rooting hormone can be beneficial when propagating Thanksgiving cactus cuttings. Rooting hormones can help speed up the rooting process and improve the chances of successful propagation.
However, while helpful, the product is not necessary.
If you don’t use a rooting powder, it is important to allow the cuttings to callus over. To do this, place the cuttings in a dry, shaded spot for about 1-2 days to allow the cut ends to harden over.
This helps to prevent rotting when you plant the cuttings.
Planting stem cuttings
Fill small pots or containers with your well-draining potting mix.
Insert the end of each stem cutting into the soil, burying it about an inch deep. You can plant multiple cuttings in the same pot, but make sure they are not crowded.
Water the Thanksgiving cactus cuttings lightly to settle the soil, but do not saturate it. Allow the soil to slightly dry between watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot.
Cover with plastic
To create a humid environment, cover the pots with some form of plastic.
If you have several cuttings in one container, wooden bamboo sticks and clear plastic wrap works well. A left over rotisserie chicken container is also a good choice for extra humidity.
Be sure to leave some room for air circulation. Remove the plastic top each day for about an hour to let some fresh air around the cuttings.
For single plants, I like to use cut off plastic bottles over my Thanksgiving cactus cuttings. They act like mini terrariums.
Provide indirect light
Place the stem cuttings in a location with bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, as this can be too harsh for the cuttings.
Check the cuttings regularly to ensure the soil is slightly moist but not soggy.
Transplant to new pots
After about 3-4 weeks, when the cuttings have established roots and show new growth, you can transplant them into larger pots.
Although the stem cuttings will root in less than a month, the plant will take a few years to bloom. To get a mature plant more quickly, plant several rooted cuttings in one larger pot.
How to propagate Thanksgiving cactus in water
Thanksgiving cacti are not typically propagated in water like some other houseplants, such as pothos or spider plants. However, it is possible to root Thanksgiving cactus cuttings in water, even if this is not the most reliable method.
Here’s how to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus in water:
Take healthy stem cuttings from your Thanksgiving cactus as described above. Instead of planting the cuttings in soil, place them in a container of water.
Use a clear glass or jar so that you can monitor the progress of root development.
Place only the bottom portion of the cutting in the water, leaving a few inches of cutting above the waterline.
Change the water every few days to keep it fresh and prevent rot. You can also use filtered or distilled water to prevent the buildup of salts and minerals.
Place the container in a location with bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can be too intense for the cuttings.
Over the course of a few weeks, you should start to see roots forming in the water. Once the roots are a few inches long, you can consider transferring the cutting to soil.
When the roots are well-established, carefully plant the cutting in a small pot with well-draining potting mix. Bury it about an inch deep in the soil, and water it lightly.
Keep in mind that rooting Thanksgiving cactus in water may not always be successful, and the success rate can be lower compared to propagating cuttings in soil. Additionally, transferring the cutting from water to soil is harder, since the roots will be fragile.
However, it is easy to do and worth a try!
Propagating Thanksgiving cactus by division
Division is not a common method for propagating Thanksgiving cactus. These plants have a branching, trailing growth form, and they don’t produce offsets or pups that can be easily divided like some other plants.
However, if you have a large and mature Thanksgiving cactus that has multiple stems, it is possible to divide it.
I had a mature plant which was grown from stem cuttings a few years ago, so I knew it would work as a demonstration plant.
How to divide a Thanksgiving cactus
Carefully remove the plant from its pot. Examine the plant’s root system and locate natural divisions or stems that can be separated.
If the plant is not too pot boung, carefully pry the sections gently apart. If the roots are a sold mass, you will need to use clean, sharp pruning shears or a knife to divide them.
Use the knife to carefully cut between the crowns to separate the stems or sections. Ensure that each divided portion has its own set of roots and stems. Be gentle to minimize damage.
After making the divisions with my plant, I ended up with several small plants, each with its own root system, as well as several stem cuttings which can be used to make more plants.
Place each divided section in its own pot with well-draining potting mix. Water the newly potted divisions lightly and provide them with the same care as you would for established Thanksgiving cacti.
Take care when dividing Thanksgiving cactus, since the plant is sensitive to root disturbance. If you choose to divide your Thanksgiving cactus, do it only to a very mature plant and with great care.
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- Schlumbergera truncata plant
- Succulent soil
- Hormone Rooting Powder
- Plastic wrap
- Small container
- Hose or watering can
- Take cuttings in the spring or summer months.
- Be sure the plant is healthy. Choose stems with no flower buds and no withering.
- Using scissors, carefully snip a piece of a stem that is at least 3-4 segments long.
- Dip the end of the stem in rooting hormone.
- Plant the cutting into a pot with well draining succulent or cactus soil. Sand also works well.
- Cover the container with plastic wrap or a cut down soda bottle to increase humidity.
- Place the pot in bright light but not direct sunlight.
- Keep evenly moist, allowing the top layer of soil to dry out before watering again
- When roots form and new growth happens, transfer to a larger pot.
If you do not have rooting hormone powder, let the end of the cutting callus 2-3 days before planting.
Cuttings can also be placed in water, but this is not as successful as planting them directly in soil.