How to split christmas cactus

Written by kimberly johnson | 13/05/2017
How to split christmas cactus
Christmas cactus plants bloom in November and December. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

The Christmas cactus is a member of the Zygocactus family of plants and produces pink blooms at the tips of long green stems. The flowers appear in November and December, making the cactus a common holiday gift. Christmas cactus plants have long lives and are often passed from generation to generation. Although the plants like to have small pots, eventually they outgrow them. Split them into multiple plants in a process called division.

Spread a layer of newspaper on a flat surface and set the Christmas cactus pot on top of it. Place one hand at the base of the cactus plant and turn the pot to the side. Gently pull the cactus roots out of the pot.

Loosen the soil on the roots by kneading them gently with your fingers.

Look at the root mass and identify the individual large white roots. Each root will have a green stem attached to the top of it. Use a sharp, clean knife to cut through the roots so that there is at least one major root in each section, although two to three are better.

Locate pots the same size as the original pot and fill them half full of a peat-based soil, often sold as cactus mix.

Insert one cactus section into each pot and fill in the remainder of the pot with soil mixture. Stop when you reach the green section of each cactus stem, which should be entirely above the soil line.

Water the pots until all of the soil is dark and moist.

Place the new cactus plants in a shady location. When they start to grow, move them to a sunny location and care for them as normal.


Divide a Christmas cactus only when it grows so large that you can no longer see the pot underneath it.

Tips and warnings

  • Divide a Christmas cactus only when it grows so large that you can no longer see the pot underneath it.

Things you need

  • Newspaper
  • Knife
  • Plant pots
  • Peat-based soil

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