Stanley Miklis, horticulturist and professional cactus grower, suggests waiting for flowers to fall before taking a clipping to prevent getting in the way of new buds. As for their growing patterns, this type of cactus grows in humid tropical jungles and not in a desert, he adds. Instead, you can find them in the coastal trees of southeast Brazil where they grow high up, which makes them epiphytic growers like orchids. So when you take a new clipping, it’s best to create some humidity around it for optimal growth, by using a mason jar or milk container.
Related: How To Keep Your Christmas Cactus Blooming Year After Year
Caring for a new Christmas cactus is just like caring for a large healthy one. It loves diffused light, frugal watering, and well-draining soil. Your new plant may bloom within months of clipping says Horticulturist Desiree Thomson. But typically, this type of cactus blooms twice a year, says Miklis, once in the spring and once in the fall from limited sun exposure or what’s called photoperiodism.
Surround your new Christmas cacti with these 10 easy-to-grow indoor herbs:
“Light conditions can be artificially manipulated to produce blooms any month of the year,” he says. If you’re itching to see those beautiful red, pink, yellow, or white Zygocactus blooms: “Simply limit sunlight exposure by covering your plant with a cardboard box at 4 pm every day without missing for continued darkness of at least 12 hours.”
Related: 3 Ways To Decorate For The Holidays With Succulents
Ready to get propagating? Follow our easy steps below.
1. Notice how the limbs of your Christmas cactus grow in segments. To take a good cutting, you want to make sure there are at least two of these sections to start a new plant. Find the piece you wish to propagate and twist at a joint to remove from the mother plant.
2. Next leave your cutting on a plate or windowsill with diffused sunlight (like a rainforest) to scab over for no more than one day before planting. This stops the stem from sucking up too much moisture from soil and rotting.
3. Once your cutting has dried on the cut end, place in a small pot with a mixture of moist peat moss and loose well-draining soil, says Thomson. About a quarter of your cutting should be beneath the surface. Place your cutting in a well-lit window but avoid direct sunlight, as this will scorch the little guy. Since your peat moss was already moist before planting, no need to water right away. The rule of thumb is to let the soil go almost completely dry between watering. A good way to check this out is sticking your finger in the soil about an inch deep. If it’s dry, it’s safe to water.
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4. Cover the cutting with a jar or milk container to generate humidity and simulate rainforest conditions. After two to three weeks your propagated Christmas cactus will show signs of new growth in the form of leave spurs. Happy holidays!