How To Propagate Thanksgiving Cactus

Welcome to our guide on how to propagate Thanksgiving cactus! Whether you’re a seasoned plant lover or a newbie, learning to grow more of these popular houseplants is rewarding and fun.

In this article, we’ll look at the best way to grow Thanksgiving cactus by propagating stem cuttings. 

We’ll discuss the best time of year for propagation and some common problems you might encounter. Get ready to dive into some easy ways to grow new plants from your favorite Thanksgiving cactus

Propagation Terms

When growing new plants, it’s good to know some important terms!

Clade: Thanksgiving cacti have thick, segmented leaves called clades. A clade is a specific leaf section on a cactus. Looking at your plant, you’ll notice long, curved branches of flat leaf sections. These sections have spots where they connect, creating long cactus arms with flower buds at the tips.  Each section is a clade.

Holiday cactus: In this guide, we use this term to talk about Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti. Easter cacti can also fit into this group!

How to Twist Off Stem Segments from Parent Plant

Taking stem segments from your cactus is simple, but it’s essential to do it correctly so the cuttings can grow roots. If you twist off the leaf in the wrong place, you’ll hurt the cutting and won’t develop roots.

To help your Thanksgiving cactus develop new growth, start by carefully removing stem segments from the main plant. Look for solid and healthy clades free of blemishes and disease.

Find where two stem sections meet and gently twist off the leaf. You can also cut the leaf segment with a sharp pair of pruners.

We suggest taking at least three stem sections at once, but you can start a new plant with one to three leaf sections. Hold a part of the plant close to where it connects to the mother plant, and gently twist it off with a clean break. 

Look closely at your cactus before cutting to ensure you do not cut off too much of your plant. With proper care, Thanksgiving cacti can live for a long time, and taking a few cuttings won’t harm the parent plant.

You can also propagate a single segment that falls off using this method.

The Best Time to Propagate 

For the best outcome, propagate Thanksgiving cactus plants when the plant isn’t flowering or making buds.

The ideal time to grow new holiday plants is after they bloom or when are actively growing. This timing works with the plant’s natural cycle.

If you harvest clades of the plant in the fall when it’s making buds, you’ll lose those buds when you twist off the stem sections. And, of course, you’ll want to avoid taking cuttings when the plant is blooming.

Tip: Allow the plants to grow for 6 to 12 months, and then give the new, established plants to your friends and family the following year. They’ll be happy to have a blooming cacti to brighten up the winter months.

How to Propagate 

There are three easy ways to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus cutting: in water, soil, or air.  First, gently twist or snip off a segment of 2-3 clades.

Before putting them into soil or water, I let them dry out slightly to reduce the risk of root rot. Set your propagated leaves in a dry location for 12-24 hours. You can now propagate in water, soil, or air. 

Water Propagation Method

Water propagation is an easy method that encourages the plant to grow its roots in water. This method is as simple as it is fascinating.

Find a small jar that can support the top edges of the leaf sections. A baby food jar is a good choice. Fill the jar with about half an inch to an inch of room-temperature water.

Use a chemical-free water source. Place the jar in bright, indirect light with room temperatures between 65 and 75.

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After about 10–14 days, the plant will start to develop roots. Once the roots are several centimeters long, you can move the cutting to a container with Christmas cactus soil. Make sure to moisten the soil before you transfer the cutting.

Set your new plant in a location with indirect sunlight, warm temperatures, and a humidity level of about 55–60%.

Soil Propagation Method

Many people prefer to grow cuttings in soil because you don’t have to move them to a different container once the roots grow. Thanksgiving cacti prefer to be root bound, so you’ll want to use a very small pot for propagation.

Once you’ve chosen the best clades, you can root them in the soil.

Use a potting soil specific to Christmas cacti with even amounts of soilperlite, and orchid barkWe have an excellent soil recipe here!

After you’ve selected your clade, leave the cutting out to dry for 24 hours. This helps the plant form a tough spot called a callous, which stops it from rotting while it grows roots.

Dip the end of the plant in Take Root rooting hormone, which can help the cuttings grow faster and more robust. Next, place the cutting into damp soil, burying it halfway up the first leaf clade.

Tip: Make sure to use quality soil made specifically for these succulents. The bottom of the container must have drainage holes for excess water to escape.

When you plant, ensure the cut end is firmly in the soil in a small pot with at least one drainage hole. Keep the soil damp (but not soggy) and put the pot in a location with bright, indirect light.

One drawback of this method is that you can’t see if the roots are growing. But once the roots are formed, you won’t have to transplant the cactus again!

Propagating In Air

It might seem surprising, but you can grow a new Thanksgiving cactus without using soil or water.

Snip off a clade and put it in a plastic bag without soil or water. Keep the bag in a warm place with humidity around 50–60%. In a few weeks, your clade will start to grow roots!

How To Care For Cuttings

A Thanksgiving cactus cutting will do well if you provide an environment similar to its native growing conditions.

Put the cutting in a location with bright, indirect light and keep the humidity around 50–60%. Inside temperatures of about 65–75 degrees are suitable.

Find a warm spot with bright, indirect light for the cutting to grow roots. Ensure the soil stays moist, but do not overwater the plant.


How Long Does It Take Thanksgiving Cactus Roots to Grow?

We have noticed small roots growing on the cactus cuttings after 10-14 days. Humidity plays a huge factor.  If your roots are slow growing, try putting your plant in a warmer location with higher humidity.

What Is the Fastest Way to Root a Thanksgiving Cactus?

We’ve discovered that the quickest way to grow roots is by placing the clade in water. In some cases, we’ve seen roots start to grow in as little as ten days, but how fast they grow depends on the humidity and warmth in the environment.

Why Is My Thanksgiving Cutting Not Growing?

A Thanksgiving cactus cutting might struggle to grow roots if the temperature is too cold or the air is too dry. Moving them to a warmer, more humid spot like a bathroom can help, and using root tone may also speed up growth.

Final Thoughts

Both Thanksgiving cactus and Christmas cactus are easy to propagate. These popular houseplants are enjoyable to nurture and even more fun to give away!

You can choose to grow your cacti in either soil or water. Once the plant has roots, give it the proper care with bright light, moderate humidity, and good soil drainage.

In just a few weeks, you’ll have new roots and a new plant to share with your loved ones- or enjoy for yourself!

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