How to Root Christmas Cactus Plants


Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) is a popular houseplant providing beautiful winter flowers. This epiphyte cactus lives in rainforest branches in Brazil when in its natural habitat. Red, purple, orange, pink and cream colored flowers appear on the ends of flattened, joined stems that drape over the edge of its container. Christmas cactus flowers in the winter after exposure to cooler temperatures and low-level light during the winter.

Step 1

Wash a small container with soapy water. Rinse with one part bleach and nine parts water. This sterilizes the container so that it does not harbor plant disease or insect pests. Drill drainage holes in the bottom of the container if there are none present.

Step 2

Fill the container with moist vermiculite. This provides good-drainage and holds tiny pockets of air for the developing roots.

Step 3

Remove a piece of the stem containing at least two sections with a sharp knife in June. This is the time when the Christmas cactus is focused on growing roots, not above ground pieces.

Step 4

Slide the first stem section into the vermiculite with the cut-side downward. Spray the soil whenever it starts to dry out to keep it moist.

Step 5

Place the cutting in a warm area out of direct sunlight. Check for root formation after the second week. Gently tug on the cutting, and if it resists the tug, then roots are forming.

Step 6

Transplant to a larger container six to eight weeks after root formation. Plant the rooted Christmas cactus plant in a mixture of one part potting soil, two parts peat moss and one part sand.

Tips and Warnings

  • Root rot is a common aliment of Christmas cactus. It occurs when the cactus is over-watered, and the soil drains poorly. Replant the Christmas cactus in sandy soil if you notice any root rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Small container
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Bleach
  • Drill
  • Vermiculite
  • Christmas cactus
  • Sharp knife
  • Spray bottle
  • Larger container
  • Potting soil
  • Peat moss
  • Sand


  • Clemson University Cooperative Extension: Christmas Cactus
  • University of Illinois Extension: Christmas Cactus Care
Keywords: Christmas cactus rooting, rooting cactus plants, Schlumbergera bridgesii

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.