Fill Your Home With Free Christmas Cacti Using This Simple Propagation Technique

Who doesn't want more Christmas cacti? Not only are the elegant succulents cute and easy to care for, but their tendency to bloom around the winter holidays also makes them ideal gifts. Fortunately, you don't have to spend a lot of money to have all the Christmas cacti you could ever want. All you need is one healthy plant, a glass of water, and some patience, and you can propagate these succulents to your heart's content.

To ensure your initial Christmas cactus houseplant is healthy and growing well, it's important to keep in mind that Christmas cacti (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) and their close relatives Thanksgiving cacti (Schlumbergera truncata) not only thrive at room temperature and appreciate indirect light, but also only need to be watered when their growing medium is fully dry. They also benefit from monthly fertilization during the late winter through summer when they put out new growth. As long as you take good care of your plant, it should be in great shape to take cuttings in May or June, which is the ideal time to propagate Christmas cacti.

Propagating Christmas cacti

To propagate your Christmas cactus, begin by taking a cutting of between 2 and 5 stem segments from the plant. Make sure you cut at the "joint" where two segments come together. Then let this cutting dry for at least a day out of direct sunlight, so the cut begins to callus over. 

There are a few different options on what to do next to propagate a Christmas cactus. While you can put the cuttings in soil or another growing medium once the cut has callused over, another option is to simply use water. For that method, all you need to do is put the cutting in an inch or so of water in a clear glass or jar. It's best to use distilled water if possible. Place your glass of cuttings in a place where they will get plenty of indirect light and check on them regularly. Add more water when necessary.

Moving your cuttings to a growing medium

You should see roots growing on your Christmas cactus cutting within a few weeks. Once a good root system has developed, your cactus should be ready to move to a more permanent home. Plant your new cutting in a well draining growing medium. Unlike many succulents and cacti, Christmas cacti don't need a special succulent or cactus soil mix and can grow well in well-draining potting soil. As the plants like to be slightly root-bound, don't pick too large of a container for your young holiday cactus. You can even plant a few cuttings together if you want the pot to look full quickly. 

Be sure to water your young cactus well to help it settle into its new home and also give it diluted water-soluble fertilizer. Impressively, a Christmas cactus cutting can bloom in its first year, so in autumn be sure to begin limiting your cactus's light to 12 hours per day or less and lower the temperature in its area to around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. These changes in temperature and light are the secret to getting your Christmas cactus to bloom