How to Propagate Christmas Cactus?
Nothing beats coming home to a beautiful sight of blooming Christmas Cactus. The good news is, you can have as many Christmas cactus as you want. All you have to constantly do is to propagate at the right period.
Perhaps, you are trying to propagate your Christmas cactus but you are reluctant because you don't know how to propagate Christmas Cactus without causing damage to your plant. The truth is, propagating isn’t that difficult. This is because Christmas cactus grows root very quickly if well planted, and you don’t have to be an expert before shedding some stems off your plant to grow new ones.
Propagating a Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus, in nature, survive by attaching themselves to trees. This means that they love a humid environment, and they can survive when clipped off from their natural environment and planted in a convenient space. Hence, when you are trying to propagate, there is a need to understand the physical structure of a Christmas cactus and all that it needs to survive.
Physically, Christmas cactus have layered segments consisting of flat but thick leaves. Hence, in cutting off stems for new rooting, there are numbers of stem lawyers you must consider in other for your plant to develop new roots. However, before we discuss this, it is essential to know the right time to propagate
Essentially, this cactus gets its name from the fact that it blossoms just around Christmas. This plant goes to rest during spring when it stops blooming. Just as this period is the best time to repot your cactus, a month or two after the blooming season is also the right moment to propagate. Aside from the fact that this period prepares the fresh stem to develop root in preparation for the next blooming period, it is dangerous and damaging to try to cut out stems from a blooming Christmas cactus.
Furthermore, it is equally not advisable to propagate your plant during fall when it's set to bloom. If propagated during these periods, it may result in stunted growth, in your Christmas cactus, which may also have it not to bloom at the right season.
Cutting Stem Segments off your Christmas Cactus
After waiting for the right moment before propagating, the next step is selecting the right number of segments. Usually, between two to six segments are enough to make a new plant. Going forward, try to make a Y-shaped cutting at the point where you are ripping the segments off. This is usually done in anticipation that the new root would come faster between the shaped cut when planted. However, this isn't important as you can as well pinch off the segments. The most important goal here is to get between two to six segments off your resting cactus plant.
Additionally, you should avoid planting immediately after cutting the segments. When you plant freshly cut segments of a Christmas cactus, you are subjecting the segments to rot and not for proper rooting. For proper rooting, you need to air-dry the segments for one or two days. This period is needed for the segments to heal or dry off at the point where you did the cutting before you plant them back.
However, you don't need to wait two days before you plant or root the segments. What is needed at this point is attention because you do not want your segments withering before you plant. Hence, once you notice the point where your cut the segments have dried sufficiently, which may take between a few hours and two days all depending on weather, you may go ahead to root the segments.
Rooting the Segments
Rooting the dried off segments starts from choosing the right pot. In considering the right pot, water circulation and the draining system of the pot are a few of the many important factors to consider. That is why clay pots are most ideal when rooting fresh segments or repotting your Christmas cactus.
You need to understand that even the new segments would need repotting after a while, usually after a year when they have gathered enough crowded root, so you need to consider starting with a small pot with an inner depth of about two inches.
However, there is a simpler way of rooting fresh segments which are filling a small glass jar with stones, probably granite, then filling the jar with water. Do not cover up the jar with water but just enough to have few stones submerged. The next thing is to place the segments in the jar but not directly into the water but rather resting on the unsubmerged stones and at the same time slightly having contact with the water. Let the jar rest in a shady part of your interior for a few days for you to notice the rate of evaporation.
What you will discover in a few days is a perfectly crowded new root waiting to be temporarily potted in a good soil mix. However, instead of letting humidity from the water and stone approach to grow you some new roots, you may as well plant the dried off segments directly into a light mix which is a faster method. This is the method that requires the right type of first pot. The light mix should be half of the coco coir and half of the perlite both sufficient to fill the small pot. You may then bury your segment, from the cut point, into the light mix at least an inch deep.
However, the water and stone approach allows perfectly tendered root to gather below your segment, and this is healthy enough to assure you a perfect Christmas cactus growth. You may pot into a soil mix after noticing gathered root. You may use the cactus mix potting soil or a regular potting soil with half of the perlite. It is important to raise the gathered root, at least half-inch above the bottom of the pot while filling the pot with soil. This will keep the gathered root comfortably cushioned on a soil mix and adequately covered by a mix too.
Storing a Newly Potted Segment
Just like a new child, your newly potted segments need to be cared for. Remember that Christmas cactus loves places with enough shade but yet with the right amount of light. Therefore, you cannot put newly potted segments directly under the sun or outdoors. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves and cause the segments to dry off.
Since they should be in small pots, humid places such as your kitchen cabinets should be the right spot for them. you may also put them in your laundry room if you have enough light and humidity. In all that you do, just make sure that they have enough natural light and humidity. Temperatures ranging between 55-70 F. which is the same as 15.5-21 C. is the perfect humid condition for tender Christmas cactus.
If you are not sure where in your home has this temperature range or you are in extremely hot areas, you may get a tray and spread pebbles over the tray. Add enough water on the tray and place the pot on the pebbles. Do not let the pot sink into the water as the goal here is not to saturate the plant with water but to regulate humidity.
Watering and Fertilizing
Humidity and light are what is needed when you root afresh segments of a Christmas cactus. Never aim to saturate your plant with water. However, if you have a pot with good drainage, you may spray your new plant once a day or as frequently as needed to keep it humid and not saturated.
A good pot with adequate drainage would help balance the water saturation level in case of any watering error which may cause rot. However, you may get a spray bottle to help you keep track of the amount of water that goes into your plant.
In addition to watering, you may also apply a very mild houseplant fertilizer. However, fertilizer shouldn't be applied as frequently as watering. At most, you may fertilize just once a week. Furthermore, watering and fertilizers should be carried out actively during summer and spring to keep humidity moderate, and to hasten growth. However, once it is winter, you should keep your plant more on the dry side. You may only water sparingly, perhaps once every five weeks that if it is needed at all.
There is nothing more rewarding than watching the blooming of a well-nurtured Christmas cactus. While it is fancy to buy these plants from the nursery and then repot, it is more delightful when they yield into other beautiful plants that you may share with others. If you’re interested in learning how to propagate Christmas cactus, we assure you that it’ll be rewarding. In fact, it’s the only way you can use to turn a single plant into many.
All you need is cutting, potting, watering, and fertilizing in the right way which we have walked you through. Now, sit back and let your Christmas cactus treat you to a blossoming holiday this next season.