7 Steps to Grow and Propagate Your Own Cacti

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Just a few living green accents throughout a home can help it feel more pulled-together, dimensional, and improve the indoor air quality, to boot. And if taking care of them is your concern, cacti are notoriously great for people who feel like they lack a green thumb. 

Not only are cacti easy to take care of, but they’re also extremely easy to multiply through propagation. We tapped Dani Draper, owner of Vine & Dandy Shop, a plant-heavy store located in Portland, Oregon, to get some insight from a pro. 

Here are some tips to put on your radar to ensure your cacti propagation process goes as smoothly as possible:

1. Pick the right kind of cactus to propagate.

“The easiest way to propagate cacti is from one that grows in sections or pads, like opuntia, or ones that grow pups,” which is essentially a mini-clone of the parent cactus. “While you can pull it off with various cacti types, why not start off easy?”

2. Start the process with the right light.

Cacti live for light, so spring is generally a good time to propagate them since it gives the offspring a long season of sunshine ahead. But it depends on where you live. “We have a big lack of sun in the autumn/winter here,” Draper said of the Pacific Northwest. The timing is more flexible if you live in a place with year-round sun or using lights to encourage growth indoors. 

3. Make sure the cutting scab heals first.

“Make sure the point of the break or cut scabs over before putting it in soil, otherwise, it will just rot instead,” she warned. The one single time cacti propagation was attempted in my home, it failed. I now know this is probably why! Draper went on to poetically add: “Succulents and cacti are like people in that they have to heal over their wound before they can focus their energy on new growth.”

4. Wait to water.

Once you have your scabbed-over cactus bit in soil, wait a few days to water it. This might feel counterintuitive, but this is a cactus we’re talking about here, not a rose bush. 

5. Then water it regularly.

After you’ve withheld water those first few days post-potting, you’ll want to ramp up the watering for a period of time. “Water regularly until roots form.” 

6. Once the roots are formed, just treat it like a cactus.

If you get as far as having the roots form and take hold, you’re pretty much in the clear. From that point on, just treat your baby plant like a regular cactus. “Let it dry out between waterings.”

7. Keep propagating.

Turns out, propagation is a part of a natural cycle for cacti that’s good for their overall health. “If you have a cactus or succulent growing the same few stalks for eternity, cutting them will push them to create more offshoots. It may look ugly for a short time, but ultimately will look better and be healthier in the long run.”