Cacti and succulents are charming additions to your houseplant collection, and they are among the easiest plants to propagate from cuttings. For those who might be wondering, propagation is the process of growing new plants from parts of an existing plant. This technique is an easy way to add green to your home on a budget and help your etiolated cacti and succulents. In this article, we’ll guide you through the essential steps to successfully propagate your favourite species.
When to Take Cactus and Succulent Cuttings
Although cacti and succulents can be propagated all year, the best time to take cuttings is in the spring, at the end of their hibernation period.
What Part Do You Cut?
Starting cacti and succulents is easy, but first, you need cuttings. There are several ways to make them, depending on the plant variety. Cuttings can be made by cutting a single leaf from the mother plant, removing a segment of its stem, or using one of its seedlings.
>> Cactus and Succulent Leaf cuttings
This technique is the easiest. It involves retrieving a leaf that has already fallen off the plant or cutting one from near the base of the stem.
Leaf cuttings work well for the following varieties:
- All other varieties that have thick leaves that detach easily from the stem
>> Cactus and Succulent Stem cuttings
Another simple method involves using stem cuttings obtained from a healthy stem section (with at least two leaves), about 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) long from near the main stem, and removing the leaves from the lower 5 to 10 cm.
Stem cuttings are ideal for the following varieties:
- Thin cacti (Rhipsalis or Epiphyllum)
- All other varieties that have fleshy stems and leaves
How to Propagate Cacti and Succulents—A Step-by-Step Guide
Before you start making your cactus and succulent cuttings, make sure you have all you need on hand:
- Containers with drainage holes
- A sharp knife
- Spray bottle of water
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, follow the eight steps below.
- Select a healthy parent plant. Its leaves should be uniform in colour and blemish free. The leaves need to be thick, firm, and free of rips. This will increase your chances of success.
- Depending on the cutting method you choose, delicately cut the leaf or stem using a sharp knife, then leave the cutting to dry in the sun for 2 to 7 days, depending on its thickness, until the end that was initially attached to the stem is dry and crisp.
- In the meantime, fill a container with Cactus and Succulent Potting Mix. Mainly composed of sphagnum peat moss and sand, this soil mix is designed to multiply your cacti and succulents.
- Once dry, place the cutting on the soil with the cut end touching the surface but not penetrating too far down. For stem cuttings, insert around 2 cm of the stem into the soil to prevent it from rotting.
- Place it near a window out of direct sunlight to prevent the cutting from wilting. The young cacti and succulents need light and a little warmth to thrive.
- Mist the soil surface with water every 2 days; be sure not to drench it. Roots should start to appear after a few weeks. Make sure you allow the soil to dry out before watering.
- Use this technique until a new plant grows. Be patient. Your cuttings will need time to root effectively. There’s no need to cover the cuttings with a plastic dome (mini-greenhouse). Using a plastic dome could cause the cuttings to rot due to excessive moisture.
- Repot the new plants. After 4 weeks, once the roots are well-established (at least 2 to 3 cm long), transplant the plant into a larger container. Continue to regularly mist the soil with water to encourage growth. After another few weeks, your young plants will be sturdy enough that, when you lift them, the root ball will follow. Mission accomplished!
What Do I Do if My Cactus and Succulent Cuttings Do Not Take?
If your cuttings die or fail to root during the process, don’t despair; just try again! It is important to note that some varieties, such as stone plants and euphorbia, do not multiply with cuttings and require seeds.