Most cacti and succulents can be easily propagated from stem or leaf cuttings, as explained below. For those cacti whose stems are formed of segments (e.g. prickly pears, Christmas cactus), always remove whole segments as cuttings – don’t split segments in half.
Succulents that form clumps, such as aloes, haworthias and agaves, should be divided by simply taking the plant out of its pot and splitting the rootball. Cacti that form numerous heads, such as many Mammillaria and Echinopsis can be divided, or cut off individual heads and use them as cuttings.
Kevin Smith, Gardeners’ World Magazine, explains how to create an attractive display using cactus plants, in our No Fuss video guide. Kevin explains why salad tongs are the tool of choice for handling cacti, which compost to use, and how to create a decorative mulch.
You Will Need
- Free-draining compost or cactus compost
- 7.5cm plastic pots
- Scissors, floral snips or secateurs
Choose a healthy piece of stem at least 10cm long and cut it off cleanly with snips. Use tongs when handling spiny cacti. For plants without stems, remove whole leaves by hand (don’t cut them off). Sit cuttings on a window sill and leave them until the cut surfaces have healed over.
Fill a 7cm or 9cm pot with cactus compost, then insert the base of each cutting to a depth of about 2cm, or deep enough that it stands upwards.
Water liberally, then place the pot on a warm windowsill, preferably not in direct sunlight. Do not place cactus or succulent cuttings in a propagator or cover them with a plastic bag.
Keep an eye on the cutting and water when the compost feels dry. Most cactus and succulent cuttings will root within a month, but it may take longer for new growth to appear.