How often to water Christmas cactus cuttings?
Experts recommend rooting Christmas cactus cuttings in water to create new plants. This method is easy and enjoyable, allowing you to observe the formation of new roots and then plant them into soil two to three weeks later.
Proper preparation and watering are crucial for successful propagation of Christmas cactus, ensuring fresh and sufficient water levels.
Homes & Gardens’ garden editor, a fan of indoor plants, asked plant expert Vladan Nikolic, founder of Mr. Houseplant LLC, for advice on rooted Christmas cactus in water, despite not having done so before.
Will a Christmas cactus root in water?
Vlandan confirms that Christmas Cactus can root in water, but die in overwatered soil due to oxygen availability, as roots require oxygen.
Soil faces significant competition for oxygen due to the presence of numerous bacteria and fungi, while water generally has fewer bacteria and fungi, resulting in lower competition for oxygen.
Microorganisms use soil’s oxygen, reducing oxygen levels, leading to the development of anaerobic bacteria and fungi.
This type of bacteria can lead to root rot and eventually kill your plant, so rooting in water is a great option.
How to root a Christmas cactus in water
Rooting Christmas cactus in water is a simple process that requires a sharp knife and a small glass vase (a cup is preferred). Follow these steps to see the roots form in the water.
1. Trim the stem of the Christmas cactus cutting
Use your knife to create a Y-shaped cutting with at least two segments.
2. Prep the vase
Place pebbles or stones in a vase, 2 inches deep, and cover with water. Add the cutting to the vase, ensuring only the tip to two nodes down is in the water. Place the vase in a bright, but not sun-scorched, spot.
3. Monitor water levels
The Christmas cactus needs to be kept in a heated room, as the water will evaporate due to cutting. Regularly replenishing the water and ensuring its health is crucial. If the water starts to develop algae, refresh it. The cactus can be repotted or grown in water, possibly requiring a larger container.
4. Be ready to pot up your cutting
Repot your Christmas cactus after roots form, which should take three to six weeks. Place cuttings in a high-quality potting mix, compost, and sand, ensuring they are as long as the cutting itself.
Is it better to propagate Christmas cactus in soil or water?
Water propagation is a simpler method for beginners, as it involves placing cuttings in water and allowing them to root. However, this method may not be successful in transitioning from water to soil. Rooting in soil allows the plant to grow in its long-term environment without adjustment, but requires proper watering and potting mix, making it more challenging and requiring skill. Both methods have pros and cons, and personal preference plays a role in choosing the best method for a plant.
How long does it take a Christmas cactus to root in water?
Your Christmas cactus should root within two to three weeks, but may take longer and be ready for repotting six weeks later, when the roots are as long as the cutting.
Enjoy the beauty of a healthy Christmas cactus by pruning it and creating new plants, inspired by the dependable, showy plant that blooms each year.
Could your Christmas cactus cuttings be from a Thanksgiving cactus? (And does it matter?)
Christmas cactus, a North American plant native to Brazil’s rainforests, blooms indoors in May, belonging to the Schlumbergera family, with six to nine species.
Numerous articles have highlighted the distinction between Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus, primarily based on bloom time and leaf shape, despite their flat stems.
Hybridization has blurred lines between Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus. Thanksgiving cactus, known as Schlumbergera truncata, has serrated leaves and blooms in November, while Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera x buckleyi, has rounded leaves.
And read more: How to grow Christmas cactus from cuttings in water?
Caring for your new plants
Avoid overwatering new cuttings in soil, using a mister for top layer moistening. Establish regular watering schedules, ensuring soil dries out between each watering, and check once a week.
Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti thrive in indirect sunlight, but direct sunlight can bleach stems. Seedlings grow in summer and flower in November or December, stimulated by lower light. Leave the plant alone to maintain conditions, as moving can disrupt blooms.
Christmas cacti (Schlumbergera) bloom from November to January, providing vibrant, trumpet-shaped flowers in various colors and attractive stems that make them perfect Christmas gifts.