Easily Root Christmas Cactus Cuttings!
You can easily root Christmas Cactus cuttings! Propagating Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus cuttings in water is simple and fast.
It is so easy to root Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera) plant cuttings you won’t believe it! I have had sections of leaf stems fall off my plant with buds on them that will root and bloom. Propagating Christmas Cactus in water is so easy even beginner plant growers can do this and succeed.
Some like to lump all the variations of Schlumbergera into the name Zygocactus.
Just so you know, I have an entire article written on how to tell the difference between a Christmas Cactus plant and a Thanksgiving Cactus CLICK HERE.
For a free printable checklist see the end of this post.
Today we talk about
- how to choose a Christmas Cactus plant to propagate
- The best way to take Christmas cuttings to root
- Simple container to root the cuttings
- Propagating Christmas Cacti in Water
- Prime location for a container of Christmas Cactus rooting
- How to plant Christmas Cactus cuttings when Rooted
Though I use the term Christmas Cactus throughout this post I want you to know that you propagate Thanksgiving Cactus the same way. (Schlumbergera)
Choose the Christmas cactus plant for Cuttings
I have this gorgeous Salmon colored Christmas Cactus and I want to really fill a nice pot with it.
It is still on the smallish side and I can get it to fill a pot much more quickly by propagating it. That means taking a piece from it, rooting it, and then adding it to the pot with the parent plant.
Another time to propagate your plant is when you prune it. The article linked will explain in detail why and how to prune your Christmas Cactus.
Plus pruning the Christmas Cactus like this will encourage it to send out more shoots.
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Once it fully opens up I will get another photo of it to share and update this post with it. Here is the updated photo:
To propagate your Christmas Cactus locate a juncture where you want to take a healthy piece about 3 to 4 inches long, with 3 or 4 leaves (sections).
Note: you can take cuttings of just one leaf, 2 leaves up to the 4 I suggested. I find the 3 or 4 easier to handle.
It is often suggested that to not take cuttings that have buds or flowers on them. I have rooted those just fine, usually, it is because that stem fell off when I was moving the plants.
Not only did the budded section root, but they flowered first, which did surprise me. But if I am purposely taking cuttings then I choose one that does not have buds or is not blooming.
This one is kind of jutting out to the side awkwardly so it will make a nice cutting of this.
How to take the Christmas plant cuttings
Sometimes gently bending it and twisting it at the juncture is enough to snap it off and sometimes I have to use my thumbnail to cut it.
The video gives you a really good idea of how I do it best. I also explain why taking the cuttings at a Y is best but not imperative.
Many let the end heal over by setting it aside for a few days, I don’t bother but if it makes you feel better then go ahead and do that.
Now, most will tell you to put them in a potting soil mix to root but that just has not worked as successfully for me. And I want you to be successful!
Note: a friend of mine and I ran a test, we tried this method and also directly in soil. Not only did the Christmas Cactus propagate this way root faster, but the cuttings all also lived. Half of the ones we tried to root in soil rotted.
Propagate Christmas Cactus in Water
Put a few stones in a glass jar, this is a recycled salad dressing jar I was practicing my glass painting on, the stones are about 2 inches deep.
You can also put a few stones in the jar then an inch of perlite on top of the stones.
Before I put any water or my cutting in the jar I write what color of cactus it is on one of the sections, I have several and I usually decide to root more than one at a time.
Place the Christmas cactus cuttings, cut side down, in the jar on top of the stones and perlite.
You want the water to barely come to the top of the stones and perlite. The cutting is only slightly touching the water, it is resting on the top stones.
I have also successfully rooted the cuttings by just placing them in the jar with a quarter of an inch of water.
As the water evaporates I add to it until I have some nice roots growing.
Location of Christmas cuttings container
Keep the jar in a spot where you can keep track of the water evaporating. I typically keep it on my kitchen windowsill and I put more water in as needed.
Propagation of Christmas Cactus is faster if the temperatures are around 70 to 80 degrees. They need bright, indirect light, not direct sun.
The humidity alone in the jar will let it root without worrying about it rotting. Below is a wonderful example of a cutting that has rooted.
Once there are roots on your cutting, plant it either in the same pot as the parent plant (if you want to fill out a plant) or I give it its own pot.
Related: Potting up Christmas Cuttings that have rooted
I use Cactus Mix potting soil with great results though I have used regular potting soil with some added perlite or horticultural sand which worked too.
And that is really all there is to it. They are actually quite quick to root and I do it any time of year though it will go faster during the active growing season.
How to Root Christmas Cactus Cuttings, quick and easy Video!
I hope you get to root some of these wonderful Fall and Winter bloomers soon.
Want to know some easy tips and tricks for growing healthy Christmas and Thankgiving cactus that bloom? Go Here!
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Christmas Cactus Propagation faster and easier!
How to Propagate Christmas Cactus Faster and Easier (Schlumbergera)
- Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus Plant
- Small Jar
- Stones or Gravel
- Perlite (optional)
- 1. Place stones in jar, add 1 inch of perlite if using. Add water to the top of stones or perlite.
- Pinch off 1 -4 segments\ of leaves, be sure to get the nub on the end of the cutting
- With a Sharpie write what color of flower it is on one of
the sections. (if you only have one color then skip this)
- Optional - let leaf segment heal over by letting it sit in a bright spot (indirect light) for a couple of days
- Place cut end of Christmas Cactus or Thanksgiving Cactus end on top of the perlite. It will sink into it, that is okay
- Keep in a bright, warm area. 65 to 75 degrees. The cutting should root in about 3 to 4 weeks.
- Keep the jar in a spot where it is visible and keep track of the
water evaporating. The humidity alone in the jar will let it
root without worrying about it rotting.
- Add water as needed. You do not need to be overly fussy about this, as long as there is some moisture in the jar they will root.
- Plant rooted cutting into a pot of its own or in with the original plant.
- If you wish to root the cuttings directly in soil then bury the cut end in your moist potting soil about half an inch. Keep soil moist but not wet.
free and easy way to get organized
Sunflower Garden Planner
Lots of pages to write down your garden plans, ideas, and notes. There is a seed starting record, a square foot gardening page and more!
Press here to download and print a different checklist…Christmas Cactus Cuttings Checklist
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Christmas Cactus Root in Water?
Yes, and this post showed you how to have success in rooting in water.
Do Christmas Cactus Grow Fast?
That is a relative question, what one considers fast another may find slow. Christmas Cactus never stop growing. They can grow quite large if you give them the conditions they prefer. See How to Grow Christmas Cactus for more information.
Will Christmas Cactus Grow Outside?
This also depends on where you live and the climate. I do put mine outside on a covered porch in summer as long as the nights are above 40 degrees. Bring them in once the nights cool down again in the Fall. If you read the article linked above on How to Grow Christmas you will see how this can aid blooming as well.
Can Christmas Cactus Grow in Low Light
Yes, but they won’t bloom as much or grow as fast as in bright, indirect light.
Oh wow!!! Thank you for the information on the difference between the 2 and rooting info
You are most welcome Norma. 🙂
Pamela: I like your blog, no question. But this one is sort of comedy for me. I had a 54 year old christmas cactus from a cutting of my late former MIL’s plant. I’ve been dragging it from house to house for half a century. This year, I killed it off. It was old, leggy, and so thin it reminded me of my thinning hair!
Guess I didn’t fertilize it enough b/c I’m visiting a friend and her’s are dark, thick, and huge and will make a terrific show (all 5 of them) in a few weeks. Never saw any so healthy. But still glad my ugly one is history. It was too heavy to move from room to room each season.
Thanks for this blast from the past.
You could start a new smaller one that is easy to carry from room to room. I keep mine smaller and more manageable because of that and having a small home, I have to be able to easily move them. I keep them outside much of the summer on a covered porch. They love it. I have a friend who inherited one as well and it was way over 50 years old, it was huge! She doesn’t move it so no worries about it being so heavy.
Great info! I love cactus plants! Hope Yo have a collection very soon
I haven’t tried this one yet and now I can’t wait. Great idea. I know my daughter would love a cutting and she’s coming home next week so we’ll have to try this method. Thanks!
It actually usually works fairly fast for me and they just take off. Since I keep mine in either my office or studio I don’t have to trick them into setting blooms, they get very little artificial light so they get the perfect length of darkness to set buds.
@Pamela, I have a large Christmas cactus a friend gave me. I have not had any blooms on it for almost 2years. It is healthy and keeps growing. I have also successfully rooted and started new plants from pieces from it. Any ideas how I can get it to bloom?
I keep mine outdoors in a sheltered spot all summer and bring it in just as the temps drop to the low 40’s, by then it has had the short day length that it needs to set blooms. Some place them in closets or other such things to give them the dark time it needs to set blooms. Also setting it outside it gets the bright light it needs during the summer months that really make it pump out the blooms. Sounds counter intuitive. Here is my article on caring for Christmas/Thanksgiving cactus, maybe you will find it helpful: https://www.flowerpatchfarmhouse.com/best-christmas-cactus-care-tips/
I have a Christmas cactus, given to me about 10 years ago by my daughter. She inherited it from her mother-in-law & she said it bloomed until her death (just before Christmas). However it wouldn’t bloom for my daughter, so she gave it to me. It has never bloomed in all the years I have had it, & always looks wilty. So last Fall I took out the worst pieces & repotted it. Now it is. Healthy but still didn’t bloom. My Thanksgiving plant blooms every year, twice, so I know it isn’t that I don’t know what to do. Do you have any ideas?
It may just need a bit of time. Whatever had it suffering took its toll. My true Christmas Cactus bloomed for me for the very first time this year, while my Thanksgiving Cactus bloom every year. The Christmas Cactus may need to become root bound after being re-potted and find its pace. They are much fussier than the Thanksgiving Cactus. I am throwing out guesses here but you are on the right track with the re-potting and cleaning it up. As long as it looks healthy it should eventually bloom for you.
Mine is huge . I’ve had it for about 5-6 years I think. Anyway I read all this stuff about “ how to get your Christmas cactus to bloom” and I think it’s no problem! Mine blooms every yeAr effortlessly. I think sun through a window is a big thing. Clay pots and cactus mix.
I agree, that great light is the key. The ones I put outside during the summer months and bring into the house just before the first frost always bloom much more prolifically than those I don’t.
I came across your link while wasting enormous amounts of time tonight (almost 2 hours!) trying to ID a cactus I bought a couple months ago. Never did find it, but I enjoyed reading tons of random stuff about cacti. So I have a Christmas cactus I got the week before Christmas 2017. It bloomed beautifully at Christmas and continues to be healthy past the blooming period. I am intrigued by your instructions for propagating with a leaf in rocks, so I have it set up now! Fingers crossed — I can’t wait to see how this goes. Thanks so much.
I just added a video on my Pruning of Christmas cactus that shows me potting the rooted cuttings up. You can see how healthy the roots are before I sink them into the soil.
What did you use to write on the cutting? Sharpie? That isn’t harmful to the plant?
Thanks for the great info!
I don’t think it is harmful to the plant and yes it is a Sharpie. I have not had any issues with the starts that are marked at all. You are very welcome.
Loved your article. I’ve been moving around a Christmas Cactus, and her offspring, for over 25 years. They’re hardy, wonderful plants. I’ve taken cuttings and rooted them in shallow water & in soil. It never occurred to me to root in a nice humidity “chamber”. I can’t wait to try it!!
Hi! How long does it take to root? A friend gave me a chunk, and I’m not sure if it was even taken off main plant properly. Anyway, I have it in a small mason jar with rocks and water as you instructed and the only change is that it looks like there is a new petal/piece growing. No roots to be seen over the last week. Thanks!
Many factors play into how fast it roots. Some take longer than others, length of day, how much light it gets etc. As long as it is healthy just keep an eye on it. I have had some root in a couple weeks (short roots) and others have taken a month or so. You are on the right track if it is putting out new growth.
Awesome!! Thank you so much for responding so quickly and for the detailed blog post! 😁
Pamela can you paint christmas cactus. Also would it possible to paint a red rose on a glass bottle. It sure would be appreciated!
Thanks for all you do!
Hello! I tried your method of putting the cutting in a glass jar with some rocks and water and it seems to be working! It’s my first time propagating anything and I wanted to know how much roots should sprout before planting? Mine just has one tiny sprout so I think it might need longer?
I let them get many more roots and maybe at least half an inch long. This helps to anchor them better when planting up.
I rooted a sm section of leaves and planted it almost a yr ago, it hasn’t grown, but hasn’t died either. Any idea why it won’t grow. Is it ok to take a section off a the plant while it’s blooming to try to root, or best to wait until it’s done? I have 2 plants and last yr both of the bloomed 4 times Nov – Jan.
Mine that I rooted last year are still about the same size too. It seems it really takes awhile for them to get established and get going. The adage used for planting perennials may apply: First year “sleep”, second year “creep”, third year “leap”.
I have found that mine really like being put outside on my covered porch in summer. The intensity of light can have a bearing on their growth.
It is best to wait until they are done blooming or at least that set of leaves is done but I have done it with buds on the leaves and they did fine.
Not sure how old this post is, but my reply may help others just finding this blog. Everything Pamela stated is absolutely correct, there is an adjustment period, but there is also this to consider: Many plant cuttings of many species will focus more on root development at first to help take in more water and nutrients. It takes a lot of precious energy to grow new stems, leaves, and flowers, and the plant needs a root system that can support the whole plant. When you have a cutting that doesn’t appear to be doing much it may just be growing roots and once the pot is filled with a healthy root system (providing the required environmental conditions are met), New growth will take off. (This is actually one of many reasons you don’t want to put a tiny cutting in a huge pot, though a massive healthy root system is always a bonus!)
I just moved lots of my plants into the garage for winter. I noticed my cactus was full of buds so I left it out. It had also lots of pieces that fell off so i have them sitting in a tray of water, but will transfer to a cup to do the rooting. I usually just push the bottom into some soil and the take hold. My plant is over 20 years old. I repot every few years and never to a big pot. I try to keep them in manageable size to move around. I usually give a few away too, it’s a good way to meet others who like plants. I sometimes get things I wouldn’t normally buy so its a win win for me. I have shared your blog many times as well.
Found this to be informational
I inherited a Thanksgiving cactus this year. It is doing better than when I got it. I repotted it but only got 3 flowers on it. It doesn’t show any signs of new growth. I need to read up more about them. Thanks for the info!
New growth should appear closer to Spring.
Look forward to seeing my cactus look like yours
I am a gardening enthusiast and love any information on gardening. Thanks
Is heat have any factor in rooting? I’m in Chicago and my windows are quite cold.
I have different colored cacti. Can I take different leaves from different cacti and plant them in the same pot? I would like to try a pot with the mixed colors.
Yes, you can. I am doing this myself.
what do the stones do when propagating in water
They keep the bottoms of the cuttings from rotting. If always submerged, I found the cuttings tended to rot, but when they sit with just barely the tip touching to water or even if the water goes down a bit further, the humidity has the cutting rooting rather than rotting.
Love your uncomplicated advice. I’m trying to keep my grandmother’s Xmas caucus alive.
Very useful information thank you.