How to Propagate Christmas Cactus

How to Propagate Christmas Cactus |

My “Heirloom” Cactus

When my grandparents moved out of their farmhouse last year, I came into possession of my grandma’s sprawling but sadly neglected Christmas cactus. She does not remember how long she had it, but the plant is at least one or two decades old, perhaps older. I remember arriving at her house to celebrate Christmas and her eager excitement over showing me the beautiful pinkish blooms on the cactus. For as long as I can remember, it sat with a couple ferns in front of gauzily-curtained windows.

After a few months of research and TLC, the plant recovered and I wanted to propagate cuttings to share with other family members. Here are the steps I followed to propagate – or “start” – new Christmas cactus.

Preparing the Environment

First, I filled three self-watering flowerpots with with potting soil specially-formulated for cacti and succulents. I chose self-watering containers because, from my research, mature Christmas cacti do best when watered from the bottom.

How to Propagate Christmas Cactus |

Choosing Cuttings

Next, I examined my mature cactus and removed any dead or dying segments. (I try to do this pruning regularly.)

Then, I chose sections that were at least four segments (leaves) long and broke them off by twisting them from the main branches. You could also cut them apart with scissors or a knife. I especially looked for segments that had tiny rootlets already starting.

How to Propagate Christmas Cactus |


After that, I planted the cuttings, being sure to bury the joint between the first two segments. The roots will grow from those joints.

Christmas Cactus |

Follow-up Care

Finally, I watered the soil a little and set the pots near a window where they would receive indirect sunlight.

I watered the cuttings weekly and then gave them to my grandma, aunt, and mom a few weeks later.

Have you propagated succulents? I have not had much success with starting other varieties (except jade). Leave your advice in the comments!



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16 responses to “How to Propagate Christmas Cactus

  1. Jen halstead

    Help me!! I cannot start jade plants!! I do what it says but it never works!! What’s the trick??

    • Janet Zylstra

      cut 1 or 2 branches from a mature jade plant. a 3 or 4 inch length branch with only 3 leaves on it and put it in a clear glass that is half full of water in a bright window sill. Maintain its water level as it needs it and just let it grow roots as weeks go by. Slowly you will see longer rooting take place until it will be obvious that you then can move it to a soil filled medium sized pot. Give it plenty of time to grow and let the soil dry, then just give some water and clear window light and watch it produce new leaves from the top of the plant.

  2. Anne de Bruyn

    I have read many articles about propagating succulents, I find the one that works for me is to take leaves off the succulent, and leave to callus over meaning the end where the leaf was taken must be completely dry, the either lay it on the soil or stick the ends into the soil and just spray with water once a day and leave to settle on the soil after about a month it will start sprouting roots

  3. This is an Easter cactus 🙂

    • Abby Howe

      Thanks for your comment! According to the horticulture resources I’ve read, the Easter cacti have sharper or “bristlier” edges than my plant. Most of them identify mine as the more rounded edges of a Christmas cactus.

  4. K

    Christmas cactus is not actually a succulent

    • Abby Howe

      Thanks for commenting! Schlumbergera (a genus including the plant many people call Christmas cactus) are cacti that are native to coastal areas like some parts of Brazil. They are not the desert cacti that North Americans may think of and like humid, tropical environments.

  5. TAryn Purdom

    Succulent are very easy to grow.
    I collect all kinds.
    You can put them in water to root first or just take a clipping and put right in the dirt.
    After potting put a little water to get dirt wet then put near a window to get sun lite.
    Only water every 2 to 3 weeks.
    Their leaves hold the water so you don’t need a lot of water.
    Good luck with your growing and I hope this helps.

    • Abby Howe

      Thanks for the information! I do something similar with other succulents, but have only tried the method in this post with my Christmas cactus.

  6. Betti

    I would love to know about propagating the jade. I took off a leaf, let it “callus” then planted. It’s been almost a year. The leaf looks lovely. The roots look healthy. But it’s still just the leaf, it hasn’t grown. How long does it take???

    • Abby Howe

      Everything I have read about propagating jade says that it takes anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months for the “baby” plants to appear. In my personal experience, my jade plants grow very slowly, especially when I have them indoors in indirect lighting. They seem to grow a little faster when I put them outdoors (in mostly indirect sun) in the summer. It’s a good sign that the leaf has rooted and is still doing well! It just may be taking its time in propagating. (Insert “late-bloomer” pun here.)

  7. tess balderson

    I have propagated just about all the regular succulents I could get my hands on. I’ve had good luck with most but a few I failed.

  8. Wilma

    Hi – I love reading about your Christmas cactus story. I too have a very old Christmas cactus. My oldest sister, who will be 92 in April, remembers seeing it at our grandmother’s house when she was a teenager, so that would make the plant approximately 75 + years. The only time the plant got re potted was when us kids would tip the pot over and break it. They were usually clay pots. And in the summer time my mother would put it outside under the lilac bush until the first frost, then she would bring it in and put it in the basement until it was ready to blossom. When our mother died I ended up with the original plant, but then divided it off to give some to my sister. I always had the plant on a round table in the living room, but it was so big my husband had trouble seeing the TV. Well, I finally killed my plant earlier last year, but not before I took off some to start a new plant. And the portion of the original plant that I had given to my sister, was killed off a number of years ago, but I started a new one for her. My sister is now in the process of getting ready to move, so she gave me the plant that I had started for her, after she killed the original one. I have gotten it to blossom again. So it takes a lot to kill the Christmas Cactus.

  9. Katie

    I shake cinnamon on mine before I put them in the dirt. It is a natural growth hormone. So far I have had good luck with both the Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti

  10. Betti

    I have a Christmas Cactus that I inherited from my mother in Law. It bloomed beautifully for her. I have had it for about 6 years. Has Not Bloomed. Ever. Same window situation. I’m perplexed. I know she never fertilized or anything. Sooo…???

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