A cactus is a succulent plant, storing large amounts of moisture within it to survive in arid environments. While new cactus plants can be grown from seeds, if you already have a mature cactus you can propagate it by taking a cutting. A properly made cactus cutting can start growing new roots within a matter of weeks. The cactus plant that the cutting was taken from will typically heal quickly as well, suffering no ill effects from having a portion removed.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Sharp serrated knife
- 10-percent bleach-water solution
- Dusting sulphur powder
- Rooting compound (optional)
- Peat or compost
- Ground pumice or perlite
Examine the cactus to determine the best location to take a cutting. If the cactus is jointed like a barrel or button cactus, the cut should be made at the joint. If the cactus is a straight column cactus, the cut can be made at any point on the column.
Wipe your knife down with a diluted bleach solution to prevent accidentally introducing bacteria into the succulent tissue of the cactus. Cut straight through the joint if cutting a jointed cactus, or cut the column at a 45-degree angle if cutting a column cactus. Reapply the bleach solution after every two or three cuts with the knife until you have made it all the way through the cactus.
Cut off the base of your cactus cutting so it is flat instead of angled if you removed it from the main cactus body with a 45-degree cut. Apply a dusting of sulphur powder to the succulent tissue of the cut to prevent bacterial growth.
Place the cutting in a location where it can air dry until a callous forms over the exposed succulent tissue. This process may take several weeks or months depending on the local temperature and humidity.
Apply rooting hormone powder to the base of the cutting if desired once a callous has formed. Begin rooting the cutting by placing the calloused end in soil prepared from half peat or compost and half ground pumice or perlite. Place the cutting in an area where it will receive moderate sun for four to six weeks to allow roots to develop.
Tips and warnings
- Cutting a column cactus at a 45-degree angle prevents water from pooling on the cut portion of the cactus. This significantly reduces the chance of the cactus starting to rot before the cut can callous and heal.
- The ideal time to take cactus cuttings is between August and October, since the temperature typically stays high enough to allow for easy drying and rooting.
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