How To Propagate Cactus

If you’re looking for indoor plants that can almost care for themselves, succulents and cactus plants are the ideal selections.

You will quickly discover that most cacti and succulents can be easily propagated from stem or leaf cuttings. You can even often remove whole segments as cuttings from cacti that have segmented stems. Prickly pears and Christmas cactus are prime candidates for this.

Succulents, which clump together, such as aloe, agaves, and haworthias, you can separate by just removing the plant from its container and separating the root ball.

Tips in propagating cactus

Cacti that offer several heads or offsets like Mammillaria and Echinopsis, you can split these of you can snip off an individual head and use these for your cuttings.

In our guide, you can learn more about taking your stem cuttings and offsets from the main plant to start rooting cactus to gain new plants. By the end, you’ll have a much better idea about all areas of how to propagate cactus and get the best results. (Learn How to Propagate Spider Plant)

How Do You Take a Cutting from a Cactus?

Here is a quick overview of how you can quickly start cutting cactus to begin your propagation of cactus plants.

Step One

Using snips, cut off a healthy piece of cactus stem, which is around 4 inches long. You can also remove entire leaves without a stem by hand; make sure not to break them off.

When you handle spiny cacti, use tongs, and also wear gloves.

Place your cuttings on your windowsill and let them sit until the cut ends have healed.

Step Two

Fill a 3-inch or 4-inch pot halfway full of cactus compost. Insert your cutting’s base to a depth of around 1-inch or deep enough so the cutting can stand upright.

Step 3

Water the pot well, then sit your pot on a warm windowsill, ideally out of direct sunlight. Cactus and succulent cuttings should not be placed in a propagator or covered with a plastic bag.

Step 4

Keep an eye on your stem cuttings and water if the compost seems to be dry. Most cactus and succulent cuttings can root in a month or less, but new cactus growth may take longer.

Propagation of cactus plants by cutting

Can You Start a Cactus from a Cutting?

Many new cactus owners wonder if they can start cactus from cuttings. The answer is yes, and there are many cacti species you can do this with. Among the popular are Hedgehog, Prickly Pear, and branching columnar cacti, such as the night-blooming cereus propagated from cuttings. (Find the Best Soil Sample Kit)

Besides this, should a section of your cactus break off accidentally, don’t get rid of the broken piece. Rather, root it and grow new a new plant from it.

Take Cutting from Your Cactus

When propagating cactus from cuttings, you must be mindful of how and where you take your cutting. A cactus cutting won’t grow to a new plant if you get things wrong here.

Choose a healthy mother plant to take your cutting. If the plant has pads, ensure you choose a mature one, even if smaller pads have grown on top of it.

Wear protective gloves, then carefully cut your plant with a sharp knife a few inches from the top. Use a sharp, sterile knife or shears wiped with rubbing alcohol.

Cut at an angle so water doesn’t accumulate on the mother plant and cause rot where you made your cut.

Rooting a Cactus Cutting

Before rooting a cutting, you need to do a couple of things first.

Place the cutting in a dry, cool location away from direct sunlight. Keep your cutting upright so any roots won’t spread to the sides. Use tongues if the species has spines on the cutting.

Allow a callous to grow on the end you cut by these few days of resting. Next, you need to take the cutting and plant it; otherwise, it could rot if left too long. The callous seals and protects the wound from bacteria and fungus growth.

Rooting a Cactus Cutting in a Pot

Rooting in Your Pot

For rooting cuttings, you need a suitable container with drainage holes and a suitable potting mix.

Once the cutting has dried and calloused, you can take the cutting and root it for the next step in cactus propagation. For a cutting, you don’t need a large pot, to begin with, and it is the drainage holes that are the most important aspect.

Fill your pot with a suitable potting mix as it plays a vital role in the rooting of your cactus cutting.

Just like the main plant, your cactus offsets require porous, well-draining soil. Fill the growing pot with your potting mix where you are planting and insert the cutting root within the container.

The cutting should be around two inches into the soil if it is less than six inches, and if the cutting is more than 6-inches, it should sit three to four inches deep. (Find the Best Garden Potters Bench)

It can be advisable to support your cutting with small stones or stakes to hold it upright.

Can You Root a Cactus in Water?

Cactus is a succulent that can root in water or soil. Some cacti varieties root better in soil, but many can root in water. When rooting cactus in water, it is a straightforward way to get more plants.

Rooting Cactus in Water

A new plant can be propagated the same way and using part of the main plant’s stem. You would first root in water and then transfer to soil.

Cactus propagation of plants isn’t always successful, yet it is easy and doesn’t require much effort.

To propagate cactus in water, you only require a few things:

  • Mother plant
  • Scissors: A sharp knife, garden shears, or scissors are ideal so long as they are sterile.
  • Glass container: You can use any container, yet glass lets you see your cacti cuttings when they start to root.
  • Water: Plain water will suffice
  • Tongs & gloves

Take Your Cuttings

  1. To root a cactus in water, collect cuttings from the parent plant.
  2. Check the main plant and look for new growth which has some stem.
  3. Cut the piece from the parent plant.

Dry Your Cuttings

Once you have the cutting, lay it flat to dry for a few days so it can heal. The cut surface of the stem must heal, or it could rot when you root it in water.

Place Your Cuttings in Water

Fill your container with water. The root of your cutting should be in the water but not any leaves, if there are any.

Place the cutting in your water, so the stem is just above or in the water.


After rooting your cactus in water, you can transfer it for planting into suitable soil for the plant to grow.

Place the container away from direct sunlight, but the cactus cuttings should be in bright light. Let the plant root over the next several weeks or even a month before it can start rooting.

Ensure you check the water in the glass. You will probably need to change the water every other day or every three days as it will lose all the oxygen and start to become stagnant.

Once your cactus starts rooting in the water, you can leave it longer or transplant it to your pot with soil. While you can purchase cactus mix, you can easily make your own by adding perlite and sand to your soil for additional drainage.

How Long Does it Take for Cactus Cuttings to Root?

Most cacti root in around four to six weeks; however, some can take a few months. If you want to know if your cacti have rooted with new growth, check for new green growth.

Christmas cactus propagation starts by taking a short, Y-shaped cutting off your stem tip. The cutting should consist of at least two, or three joined segments.

Let the cuttings dry for a few hours in a warm area before you start potting in moist peat and sand soil mix to help avoid stem rot from excess moisture.

Place the pot in a well-lit area, avoiding direct sunlight and water sparingly to start to prevent rotting. After two or three weeks of rooting, your cutting should show signs of growth at the tips of its leaves that can be a reddish color.

Whichever method you used for cactus propagation, take your collection of cuttings for cactus propagation. You’ll find cactus propagation is just the beginning. Care for your plants is vital to get the best from them. (Learn How to Grow Green Onions in Water)

Every other week, use a mild houseplant fertilizer. In the spring and summer, water and fertilize regularly; however, this plant should be kept dry during the winter months, withholding water for six weeks.

How to propagate cactus isn’t hard, so long as you follow the above care tips. Once they begin to have roots, your propagation is almost over, and you can produce lots more plants to give away to family or friends.

How To Propagate Cactus

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