TikTok's Genius Hack Saves You From Pricks While Propagating Cacti

If you've worked with succulents, you may know that they're easy to propagate via cuttings. This means that if you cut off a leaf or piece of stem, it will naturally grow roots and turn into another plant. To propagate succulents, follow a few simple steps: cut the plant and let it dry, place it on soil or sand, and provide minimal water until roots form. Then you can place your cutting in a pot and watch it grow into a new plant. This works for cacti too, but their protective spines can make the cutting part trickier — and more painful. To propagate cacti without running afoul of their spikes, there's a TikTok pantyhose hack you could try. This uses a pantyhose or a nylon sock to create a sort of handle on your cactus so you don't have to hold it by the spines. 

While this helps you remove the cutting safely, it also makes it easier to hang the cutting while it starts growing roots. You can get a nylon sock for free at most shoe stores (they usually give them out for trying shoes on), or you can cut the foot off of a pair of pantyhose. You'll also need some items you probably have on hand, including a skewer, chopstick, or similar stick, a sterile knife, and a vase or cup that's partially filled with sand. To sterilize your knife, you can dip it into bleach, 70% rubbing alcohol, or a commercial disinfectant. 

How it works

To propagate plants like a pro, you'll want to cut off a piece of your cactus at a 45 degree angle. The spines make this step difficult, which is why a nylon sock can help. Place the sock over the top of the cactus until the thorns poke through the fabric in several places. Then, pulling the sock upward gently, poke the skewer through the top of the sock and turn it a few times to tighten. Now, use the skewer as a sort of handle. Pull up on it gently to hold the cactus in place while you cut away the tip. Finally, using the stick as a handle, lift the cutting off. Voila!

Besides saving you from pricks, this technique has the added benefit of streamlining the next step in the propagation process. Once the cut piece has dried for a couple days, you'll place your cutting over the vase so that the stick sits on the rim and the cutting is suspended by the sock. Keeping the sand in the vase moistened with water (using a spray bottle) will allow the cutting to grow roots. You could also dip it in rooting hormone first to encourage growth. Once the roots form and the cutting is ready to be placed in well-draining soil, the nylon sock handle makes it easy to transfer to the pot. You can then remove the skewer and use it to hold the cutting down while you pull off the sock.