How to propagate cacti and succulents

There is nothing more exciting than producing more plants from the ones you have already in your collection. Well OK maybe not as exciting as buying new plants haha! but there is something extra rewarding about propagating these plants yourself from seed, or cuttings.

To watch them grow over the years is truly so rewarding, and such a fun part of the hobby.

Here I explain what methods I have successfully used over the years to propagate my cacti and succulent plants and I hope you find the tips useful. .

I have added many videos to this page which will show you the different methods of how I propagate these incredible plants, from growing from seeds, to taking cuttings, so take a peek after you have a read..

cactus seedlings

these are my babies Coryphantha borwigii which I sowed using the bagged method mentioned below and this is them as 6 month old cactus seedlings

 

Growing from Seed

There is nothing more rewarding that growing your own cacti and succulents from seed, from the very first process of sowing the seed, to watching them sprout and grow into cute little miniatures of their adults. It really is the most wonderful thing, watching the seedlings grow over the following months and years it is amazing.

There are many different ways to grow cacti and succulents from seed and every grower will have his or her own preferred method but here is mine which I have found successful.

Here is a short video I made showing you the fruit of different cactus seed pods

If you can provide additional heat and grow lights then seed can be sown at any time of the year, but if you haven’t it is best to wait until the Spring until you sow your seeds when it is naturally warmer and the days are longer, as to get seeds to sprout you need a minimum temperature of about   70-80f.

Here is a video below I have made showing you how to pollinate cactus flowers to produce seeds.

 

Out of all the methods of sowing seeds that I have tried over the years, by far the most successful and easiest has been growing them via the bagged method,

Although this does take a bit of preperation this is by far the best as its as easy as just sterilizing the pots, the soil and the water before sowing the seeds,

Once the seeds are sown then immediately place the pots into a air tight transparent zip lock bag as this will keep them in a totally sterile environment until the young seedlings are large enough to come out of the bags, usually anything from 3 months -18 months depending on the type of cactus or succulent seedlings you have.

When you have sown the seed, in this stirile environment they they can take care of themselves, for a good few months BUT it is very important not to open the bag for at least 3 months..

Here is a very easy to follow step by step video I have made  that explains in detail how you can grow Cacti from seed using this method.

 

Here is another very easy to follow step by step video I have made showing you how you can grow Aloe from seed, this video can apply to ALL succulent seeds regardless of the type of succulent seed you have.

 

Cuttings

This is the most easiest and quickest way to get more plants from your own or other peoples plants proving of course the ‘other’ people know you are taking them haha.

Cleistocactus winteri

cuttings of Cleistocactus winteri

When taking cuttings of cacti and succulents it is very different to taking cuttings of other non succulent plants where you just simply snip the cutting and place into soil or water to root.

With cacti and succulents when the cutting has been taken because they store water in their stems, leaves and roots, this makes them very prone to rotting by fungi and bacteria entering the cut surfaces if the cutting is placed directly into soil.

When a cutting of a Cactus or succulent has been taken, it is paramount that the cut part has completely healed over and formed a scab called a ‘callus’ this can take anything from a couple of days to a few months if a very large cactus depending on the size of the cut part of the cutting.

I always prefer to dust over the cut part with sulphur powder as this prevents fungal spores forming before the cutting has had a chance to heal over and it will form a callus, so I recommend sulphur powder if you can get your hands on it,

Yellow Sulphur powder

Yellow Sulphur powder

Cuttings are only recommended to be taken during Spring or Summer, and unless an emergency cutting has to be done to save a plant then it is not recommended to take cuttings during the Winter months.

Once the cutting has fully callused and is planted, keep the cutting in a warm and well bright spot and lightly mist the very surface of the soil every few days to encourage the cutting to send out roots, you will know when a cutting has taken root when the cutting fills out and or shows signs of new growth, where you can then water the cutting as normal.

Some growers like to provide bottom heat by the use of a heat pad or propagator to speed up rooting, this is a very good idea although I have never had to use that method and I have always had success with the method previously mentioned and in the videos.

There are many methods of taking cuttings for all the different types of cacti and succulents but here are a few videos that I have made on taking cuttings of Cacti for propagation and you can watch them below

How to take cuttings of Epiphyllum cacti

How to pot up and root cuttings of Epiphyllum cacti

How to save a cactus from rot and take cuttings

How to grow a Dragonfruit cactus from a cutting

How to tell when an Epiphyllum cutting has taken root

How to pot up and support a very tall Cactus cutting

How to pot up and support a columnar cactus

How to tell when a Columnar cutting has taken root

 

Leaf propagation

This has to be one of the most easiest and fun ways to propagate a lot of the succulents.

All you need to do is pull/cut off a leaf or segment and depending on the size of the leaf leave the leaf to ‘callus’ over for 2-7 days and then place into a well drained potting mix, making sure to keep the soil medium in the pot only just lightly moist.

Although this is not 100% necessary as many leaf segments will send out roots regardless if the soil medium is kept moist, but personally I find that keeping the top of the soil just lightly moist encourages rooting faster.

Sedum morganianum propagation

Leaf propagation of my Sedum morganianum

Keep the leaf segment in a warm and bright spot, two ways that you will know when it has taken root is when you see signs of new tiny growth from the bottom of the leaf or segment, where the leaf comes into contact with the soil, and another sign that it may have rooted is that the cutting starts to plump up as it takes water in through the newly established root system..

Here is a video I made on How to propagate succulents the easy way

How to propagate Christmas/Thanksgiving Cactus Schlumbergera

How to propagate Crassula ovata Money/ Jade plant

 

Offsets 

Offsets are little ‘pups’ or ‘babies’ that grow around the Mother plant such as in the Echinopsis, Rebutias, Chamaecereus and Mammillaria varieties of cacti, or grow from the base of the Mother plant such as Aloe’s Haworthia’s, Agave’s, and Gasteria.

offsets of chamaecereus and Rebutia cacti

Offsets of my Chamaecereus and Rebutia cacti

Offsets can easily become detached from the parent plant and potted up into their own individual pots as most of these will quite often have roots already on them, however like with all cacti and succulent cuttings, I would still recommend waiting a few days before placing into soil to allow any damage to ‘callus’ over that may have occurred while removing the offshoot from the parent however gently it may have came away from the main plant.

Crassula falcata 'propeller plant' plantlet growing at the base of the Mother plant

This is my Crassula falcata ‘propeller plant’ offset growing at the base of the Mother plant

Plantlets

There are some plants that readily produce plantlets such as the very popular houseplant Chlorophytum comosun aka Spider plant. but when it comes to cacti and succulents, then there is one also very popular plant commonly known as the ‘Mother of Thousands’.There are a few different varieties of these plantlet bearing Kalanchoe’s, the most popular being Kalanchoe daigremontiana (see photo below)

Kalanchoe daigremontiana Mother of thousands

My Kalanchoe daigremontiana Mother of thousands plant and plantlets on its leaf edges

These plants produce many tiny plantlets all along the edges of their leaves, these easily become detached from the leaves that they grow around and will often already have tiny roots on them. These plantlets can be potted up straight away, placing them gently on top of a well drained soil medium, keeping the top of the soil lightly moist.

Here is a video I have made on how you can propagate the Mother of Thousands plant.

Wishing you all an abundance of happy growing guy’s and hope that you found the tips and videos helpful 🙂