Christmas cactus can usually be found in full bloom in the store just in time for the Christmas season. However, a Christmas cactus is not guaranteed to produce festive blooms on time in subsequent years. One way to ensure you'll always have a Christmas cactus in bloom for Christmas, or at least one in bloom all winter if you wish, is through propagation.
Start propagations in the spring or summer. Christmas cactus propagations are most likely to produce roots during their active growing period in spring and summer months. Propagations in the winter or fall can succeed, but it's best to make several simultaneous attempts during these times to ensure you'll get one good plant.
Cut a piece of the Christmas cactus away from the plant. The cutting should be two or three segments long and can be from any part of the plant. Make the cut in between two segments to preserve the look of the original plant.
Set the propagation in a safe place for about two hours. It's important to let the cutting dry out, but you should not let it dry for over two hours.
Dip the bottom segment of the propagation in a rooting hormone powder, giving it a light coating.
Insert the bottom segment into several inches into a small pot of potting mix. Insert the segment only far enough to keep the propagation upright. Use a potting mix consisting of three parts general potting mix and one part course sand or perlite. The course sand or perlite keeps the mix properly aerated.
Care for the propagation just as you would a mature Christmas cactus, giving it bright light and keeping the potting mix moist. The Christmas cactus will root in about two weeks and will begin growing in about 4 weeks.
Be sure to insert the propagation into the potting mix right side up, with the segment which was on the bottom on the original plant into the mix. A cutting inserted upside down may not take root. Start Christmas cactus propagations in early spring for use as holiday gifts. For fuller plants, place multiple propagations in each pot.