How to Propagate Cactus? Step-by-Step Guide

Cactus plants are the cutest houseplants to have. Each one has a striking shape with amazing flowers. They are unique and add visual effects to your living space. They look fabulous whether grown as an outdoor plant in a rockery garden or standing on a windowsill.

But did you know you can increase your cactus collection without spending a cent? Yes, you can, and even beginner cacti parents can perform it. You can propagate a cactus through stem cuttings, the baby plant (offsets), or the pad.

It becomes more accessible and is a great way to make sure your dying cactus lives on with some practice. So, brace yourself as Plantly will teach you how to propagate cactus quickly with our step-by-step guide.

What is Cactus Propagation?

cactus propagation

Cactus propagation is a process to help reproduce your cacti using the mother plant. All the methods here can produce new cactus plants, whether you have columnar cacti or globular cacti. When cacti grow in their natural habitat, they produce offsets or seeds.

The fantastic thing is when you take things into your own hands, you can speed up things, making them a bit faster. For example, one of the popular methods to propagate cactus is through stem cuttings, as it works with most cactus species.

The method works well if it has a round cactus pad. Another less common technique is grafting, but it is a fantastic propagation technique. Another great thing about cactus grafting is that it works well on some species that do not propagate well.

The best time to propagate your prickly pears is before or during the growing season. If your spiny cacti are flowering, wait until the blooms fade and the plant is dormant. Before starting with any of the following techniques, gather your essential tools first.

Critical Tools To Use For Cactus Cuttings

propagation tools

The important thing is to select a healthy parent plant and invest in some heavy-duty gloves. In addition, you will need a container or pot with enough drainage holes filled with well-draining soil. Another essential tool is a sterile knife with a pair of tongs or cactus pliers.

Lastly, optional, you can use rooting hormone powder to speed up the development of the roots. Great, now that you have the tools, you can decide which methods will work best for you.

Propagating Stem Cuttings From The Mother Plant

succulent propagation

To propagate cactus easily using cuttings is the most common and effective technique. Here you will be taking a cutting from the parent plant at the top.

But if you have a cactus pad, then choose a mature one. For the columnar cacti, choose a thin stem to stimulate root growth faster.

The cactus pad you can snap off using your hands.

  1. Choose a healthy stem of at least six inches long and make a clean cut using your sharp knife. For your spiny cacti, we recommend using tongs to handle them with your gloves.

  2. Next, leave the cuttings on a windowsill to heal and callous.

  3. While you wait for the cutting to heal, you can fill a container with some cactus peat.

  4. Dip the stem cutting end in some rooting hormone and insert it deep enough, standing upwards into the soil.

  5. Water well, place your pot on a warm windowsill away from direct sunlight and cover it with a plastic bag.

  6. Keep checking for new plants and water when you feel the soil is dry. You should notice new growth within a month.

Propagate From Cacti Pad

cactus pad cutting propagation

Pad propagation is also easy, and most of the time, it leads to success. It is a widespread technique to expand your cacti collection fast.

  1. Use your gloved hands or tongs and grab the cactus pads about six months old. Break it off from the mother plant. If you find it does not want to break, use a sharp knife instead to make a clean cut.

  2. Leave the pad to heal and place them flat on the soil. Please do not press it into the ground and soak it with water like a fullgrown cactus.

  3. Check on it daily to ensure the soil remains moist to motivate root growth. You can dip the cut end into rooting hormone before laying it on the soil.

  4. Once it forms a root system, we recommend cutting back on the watering to prevent root rot.

Propagate Cacti from Seeds

Another excellent way to propagate cactus is through the seeds. You will need some cacti seeds, a small pot, free-draining soil, a fork/spoon, tweezers, and gravel with vermiculite.

  1. Fill your pot with moist yet gritty free-draining soil and firm it down.

  2. Next, scatter the seed over the soil but not too thick. Now, sprinkle some vermiculite over the seeds to cover the whole surface.

  3. Place on a warm windowsill covered with a plastic bag.

  4. You should notice new growth in a week and can then remove the bag and water when the soil is dry. But keep spraying the surface only to keep it moist.

  5. Care for your new plant as usual, and the following spring, they should be big enough to transplant.

  6. Then use a fork/spoon to remove it from the pot. Next, fill another small container with gritty soil and place your seedling into it. You can ensure that the young plant is sitting at a right angle with the tweezer.

  7. Fill your new plant around the base with soil and water. Please keep it in a sunny spot and care as usual.

Cactus Propagation Using Offsets

cactus offset propagation

You can see how propagating the cactus is easy and using the offsets is also a breeze. Some succulents produce pups you can separate from the main plant. It is a fast technique with excellent propagate cactus success.

  1. Choose a cactus with many pups and remove one with a small ball of two inches long.

  2. Using your hands, remove the offset by twisting them around until it disconnects.

  3. Or you can use a sharp knife. Next, leave the offsets to dry and apply the dip end into rooting hormone.

  4. Now, plant the pup into the soil and leave it in a shaded area without direct sunlight.

  5. Compared to the other propagation methods do not water your offsets. Instead, wait for up to five days before watering your plants.

When NOT to Propagate a Cactus Plant

While you can propagate cactus quickly using the above methods. There are times you cannot start reproducing when the following takes place:

Never Propagate During a Heat Wave

Out of all the tricks, people recommend never propagating a cactus when there is a heatwave. Your succulent plant is already stressed trying to survive, and it will add more pressure on your plant.

The cacti will need to divide their nutrients to heal and regrow. But if you treat cactus as an indoor plant under controlled room temperatures, it should not threaten your plant’s well-being.

Never Perform Cactus Propagation In Dormancy

During the frost period, your cactus needs to survive outdoors in freezing temperatures and into a dormant stage. At this time, your plant is susceptible to disease and rot. So, always keep this in mind and wait until the warmer season to proceed to propagate a cactus.

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