Growing Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) from cuttings is one of the easiest propagation methods. This also works for Thanksgiving and Easter holiday cactus plants. See how to take a section of leaf stem and grow new plants.
For a indoor growing guide, see How to Care For Christmas Cactus Year-Round.
How to Grow Christmas Cactus From Cuttings
Good news! This is as easy as it gets for plant propagation.
You can use these instructions to take cuttings from Christmas (Schlumbergera x buckleyi), Thanksgiving (Schlumbergera truncata), and Easter (Rhipsalidopsis) cactus plants.
Not sure which one you have? Use these identification tips. No matter what type, daily care and propagation is the same.
Using the instructions (below), the cutting will grow roots and grow into a new plant.
Here are some tips before you start:
- The part we’re using for propagation is the phylloclade or cladode (a.k.a. “clades”): stems which are comprised of what seems like segmented flat leaves. These are actually modified branches. You don’t have to go looking for it: this is all the plant is.
- For best results, the plant should not currently be producing buds or flowering when you take your cuttings.
- Your cuttings (stem) can be 1, 2, 3, or 4 segments long. Longer than that and it may topple over in the flower pot while waiting for roots to form.
- When you take your cutting—don’t cut! Pinch or twist off the stem at a join instead for a good clean break. Do not cut or break across a leaf—just at a join.
- Slightly warmer than usual temperatures between 71-81°F (21-27°C ) help speed up rooting.
- You can put multiple stems in the same pot. Allow an inch of so between them.
About Plant Patents
Some plants are patented and asexual reproduction is not permitted without permission from the patent holder. Patents and trademarks are usually listed on plant tags.
3 Ways to Grow Stem Cuttings
Whichever method you choose, avoid placing your holiday cactus in direct sun. They need bright, indirect light and must never dry out.
- Direct Planting | This is the easiest method. Take your cutting (stem segment) and plant it directly in moist potting mix. Bury half of the lowest leaf. You can also bury the stem deeper—at the halfway point on the next leaf up. Keep watered and roots will form. Add several cuttings to one flower pot for a fuller effect.
- Callus First, Then Plant Directly | Some gardeners take a cutting and, before planting it in potting mix, allow the cutting to air dry for a few days so a callus will form at the cut. This should be done away from direct light or heat so the stem does not dry out. The idea is that you could prevent disease in the plant with this extra protection but I don’t find it’s a concern when using new potting mix.
- Water Propagation | Place your cutting in a baby food jar with the base (bottom inch) submerged in clean, warm water. You can add some stones to help hold the cutting in place if needed. Roots will gradually form. Once established (at least an inch long), plant your cutting in potting mix.
Creative Propagation Idea
If you have several Schlumbergera or Rhipsalidopsis plants with different color flowers, consider rooting cuttings from each of them in the same pot. This way, a year later when the plant blooms you will have a multi-colored bunch of flowers all from the same pot. Very pretty!
- Christmas Cactus Care Tips
- How to Identify Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus Plants.
- Got an orchid? You can use tips to grow orchid babies.
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Frequently Asked Questions
These tips apply to all types of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter cactus plants.
My holiday cactus dropped some leaves. Can I regrow them?
Yes, some dropped leaves from a holiday cactus can be propagated. The best way to find out if the stem will form roots is simply to try it. Follow the same instructions as if you had intentionally removed the leaf stem (or “clades”) from the plant to regrow it.
Can I root Christmas cactus in water?
Yes, you can root holiday cactus stems in water. Submerge the base of the stem in water: roots will form there.
Can I root holiday cactus in potting mix?
Yes, holiday cactus stem cuttings can form roots when planted in moist potting mix. The key is to ensure the potting mix stays moist but not overly wet.
When is the best time to grow Thanksgiving cactus from cuttings?
The best time to grow Christmas or Thanksgiving cactus cuttings is after flowering. While blooming, much of the plant’s energy is directed toward flowering. Once done, it is ready for propagation.
How long does it take a holiday cactus cutting to form roots?
A holiday cactus cutting propagated in water will start forming roots right away. The roots are usually visible within a few weeks.
Will Christmas cactus grow outside?
Whether or not you can grow Christmas cactus outdoors depends on your climate and growing conditions. In cold climates with warm summers, many gardeners place their holiday cactus outside during the warmer months and return them indoors for fall and winter. This article on year-round Christmas cactus care has more details.
My Christmas Cactus is growing little shoots on the branches—is this normal?
Yes, it is normal for Christmas or Thanksgiving cactus to grow little shoots on their branches. These are aerial roots. Aerial roots are normal and advantageous for epiphytic plants (“air plants”). In the wild these roots would help the plant anchor to its host.
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How to Grow Christmas Cactus From Cuttings
Supplies & Materials
- 1 Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving cactus plant
- Fill 4 to 6-inch diameter flower pot up to 1-inch below lip of pot with moistened cacti potting mix. Press soil down and top up if needed.
- Twist off one or more stems from existing plant (not currently in bloom). Each stem cutting can be 1 to 4 segments long. The break should be between leaf segments at a join—do not cut across or break through the middle of a leaf.
- Optional: Allow cuttings to dry for several days until calluses form.
- Plant broken end of stem in potting mix, approximately one-half to one inch deep. If planting several, place an inch apart.
- Place in bright, indirect light at room temperature 65-75 °F (18-23 °C) and water as needed.