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How to Grow Cactus Cuttings

Cactus offer a variety of shapes and color to the indoor garden. The blooms provide brilliant contrast to the shades of green normally associated with cacti. One of the easiest plants to care for, cactus also make a good plant to propagate for anyone who enjoys them and wants more for the garden. It is very easy to grow cactus cuttings from any of the succulents already growing, whether it is removing a pad or cutting a section from the host cactus.

Put on gloves or use tongs to remove plantlets or cuttings from the host cactus plant. Apply sulfur powder to the exposed flesh of the cutting to keep bacteria from infecting the cactus cutting.

Place the cuttings in a warm area and allow them to form a callus over the flesh where the cut was made. This takes one day to two weeks depending on the size of the exposed flesh of the cactus. The cutting must not be planted directly into soil until the cut end has dried and formed a callus. The callus keeps soil moisture from penetrating the cutting and causing it to rot.

Fill the growing tray with the potting soil after the cutting has formed a good callus. Moisten the soil but do not let it get soggy. Place two tbsp. of the rooting compound on to a paper plate. Dipping the cuttings into the powder on the plate keeps any unknown diseases from spreading to the entire bottle of rooting hormone.

Dip the cactus cutting in the rooting hormone and place into the growing tray or pot. Make sure the cactus cutting is deep enough that it does not fall over. Place the cactus cuttings in a warm sunny location. Filtered light or a shady location causes the cuttings to be thin as they grow.

Do not water the cactus cutting until you see new growth from the top of the cactus. This may take several weeks. If you are not sure, put on gloves and gently tug on the cutting. Resistance means the roots have started to form. The new cactus will start to "plump up" and grow when a healthy root system has developed. Once roots have formed, care for the new cactus plant as you would any other succulent.


Cut the host cactus at an angle when removing a section for propagation. The slant cut allows rain water to roll off instead of collecting on the cut and causing the mother plant to rot. Activated charcoal may be substituted for the sulfur powder when protecting the new cutting.

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