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How To Root a Cactus Cutting: 9 Tips & Tricks

Rats Tail Cactus

Cacti plants are low maintenance, undemanding, and easy to grow. Because of that, many people choose them as an addition to their indoor and outdoor gardens. If you already have a cactus, you might want to root a new plant, which you can do in multiple ways.

One of the rooting methods is to use cactus cuttings, which can sometimes be complicated. If you’d like to know more about how to root a cactus cutting and get some valuable tips and tricks on this technique, check out the rest of our article.

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Can You Propagate a Cactus From a Cutting?

You can propagate a cactus from a cutting, and this propagation method is highly beneficial as it will allow you to grow healthy plants more quickly than growing them from seed. However, to do this job successfully, you need to know how and when to cut and which cactus species grow the best when propagated from cuttings.

Blooming cactus
Image Credit: Hanka, Pixabay

Which Cactus Species Grow Best When You Propagate Them From Cuttings?

There are three primary cactus species you can grow from cuttings:
  • Opuntia: Prickly pear cactuses such as Senita and Pincushions. These cacti are extremely easy to grow from cuttings, but they need special care, making them challenging for beginner gardeners.
  • Mammillaria: All Pincushion cacti that grow in spirals or clumps can quickly be propagated from cuttings. They require a lot of sunlight and average water conditions.
  • Echinopsis: Cacti such as Echinopsis pachanoi, and Easter lily. They are easy to grow and you can propagate them from cuttings without issues, but they need a lot of sunlight.

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The 9 Tips & Tricks on Rooting a Cactus Cutting

1. Consider the Cutting Time

For the best results, it’s best to take the cuttings in late summer/early fall (between August and October). The weather should be dry and cold, while the temperature should average at around 60°F.

You could also take the cuttings during winter, but they will take longer to grow roots.

Typically, cactus cuttings cannot succeed in areas where it’s constantly cold, and they will thrive in warmer climates with more sun during the day.

Fuzzy cactus_ThreeMilesPerHour_Pixabay
Image Credit: ThreeMilesPerHour, Pixabay

2. Choose the Best Stem

To make this propagation more effective, you should try to choose the best stem for propagation. It’s best if the stem is healthy and at least 4 inches long. When cutting, try to do it at a 45° angle. You’ll need a sharp knife, or you could break old pads carefully or separate two stems with your fingers.

3. Protect Your Hands

As cactuses have prickly spines, you’ll need to protect your hands before cutting. You could purchase protective gloves or wrap your hands in medical tape. Either way, keep the spines away from your hands, as they could cause multiple issues.

protective gloves used for construction
Image Credit: chellestein, Pixabay

4. Get a Good Rooting Compound

Once you have the cutting, you’ll need a rooting compound to allow the cut on the stem to heal. When the stem is recovered, it will be ready for new planting, and soon, you’ll have a new cacti plant joining your family.

5. Store the Cutting

You’ll need to store the cutting and allow it to air-dry. It’s best to monitor the plant regularly to ensure that the bottom is totally dry. Once a callus forms, your cutting will be ready for planting.

Fairy Castle Cactus_suttirat wiriyanon_Shutterstock
Image Credit: suttirat wiriyanon, Shutterstock

6. Choose a Rooting Method

There are two different ways you can grow a new cactus from the cutting.

Depending on your preference, you’ll need to choose a rooting method, which can be:
  • Soil rooting
  • Water rooting

Most people stick the cutting directly into the soil, but it’s much better to wait until the plant establishes before transplanting it into the soil. If you plant the cutting into the soil, ensure it’s set in a sunny spot that receives a lot of sunlight throughout the day, as that will promote growth.

You should know that cacti don’t like to be watered often and don’t like when they’re overwatered. It’s best to water cactus cuttings when the soil gets completely dry.

7. Follow the Signs of New Growth

Once planted, you should keep an eye on your cactus and follow the signs of new growth. If you notice that the plant is wider or taller, that means it’s ready for transplanting. The plant typically takes around 3 to 4 weeks to get substantial roots.

potted ball cactus
Image Credit: QQSASI, Shutterstock

8. Transplant the Plant

You should transplant the plant into a larger pot with a soil mixture that contains compost or pumice. It’s best to use tweezers and a spoon to remove the new plant from its original pot and plant it into a new one.

9. Provide the New Plant with the Required Care

The new plant will need proper care to grow into a healthy, strong cactus. For the first couple of weeks, it’s best to keep the plant in a sunny spot but avoid direct sunlight. They will grow the best in partial shade or indirect sunlight. When you notice new leaves and roots, you can place your cacti in a brighter location.

When it comes to water, cacti don’t need a lot of water to thrive, so you should water your plant only when the soil dries out. Never allow the cacti to sit in water, as that could put your cacti in danger.

garden flower divider Conclusion

Rooting a cactus from a cutting can be challenging at times, but as long as you follow our tips and tricks, the whole process should run smoothly. If you’re a beginner gardener, choose one of the species that’s easier to propagate to make the whole rooting experience faster.

Featured Image Credit: KawaiiS, Shutterstock


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