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How to Propagate A Christmas Cactus


You have this adorable Christmas cactus, but then your inquisitive toddler gets into your plant and suddenly that houseplant got a haircut it didn’t need.


Don’t throw away those bits and pieces of Christmas cactus!! You can easily propagate them into new baby plants. Now to find a place where said toddler can’t reach them. . .

Before we get into how to propagate houseplants, a quick disclaimer. Yes, my Christmas cactus is actually a Thanksgiving Cactus. I’m just calling it that because that’s what the general public knows them as. Click here to read more about telling the difference.

Okay, on to making the best of toddler shenanigans–I mean, propagating my Thanksgiving cactus.

Find the Roots, if any

Chances are, your Thanksgiving cactus broke off between two leaf segments (called phylloclades, if you were wondering). If not, break off the broken segments, so that you’re left with a piece of plant that has its segments intact.

If you’re really lucky, those leaf segments might have a root starting to develop. And if that’s the case, plop it in some cactus soil and call it a day. If not, don’t worry, we’re going to encourage the plant to make some.

Place the Leaf Segments in Water

Grab a small glass or bowl and fill it with water. Put your Thanksgiving cactus clipping in the water, and wait anywhere from 2 weeks to a month and roots should develop. You don’t need to do anything special or add any fertilizers. Just be patient.

In these photos, my Thanksgiving Cactus had probably been in the water for 2 or 3 months, waiting for me to remember/find the time to actually put it in a pot. So don’t worry if your roots don’t look as thick or plentiful as in the photos. Once your cutting has a few roots (don’t stress about how many) it’s on to the next step.

Repot the Christmas Cactus

Next, find a small pot and put your clipping in cactus soil. Regular potting soil will do, but cactus soil is a lot better, and it’s not that hard to find. Thanksgiving cacti like to be a bit root bound, so it’s important not to plant it in a giant pot. Find a cool spot with low light for your cactus, and wait for it to grow and bloom!

To learn more about Christmas cacti, read this post next.

For more tips on how to care for your Christmas cactus, I made this video for you about why your Christmas cactus might not be blooming:

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Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!