Cactus type Cuttings:
Congratulations on your purchase of cacti Cuttings, and/or Potted Plant
SAFETY Warning: Always wear Gloves when handling cactus!!! They have spines, they poke, stab, cut, pierce, and hurt when they come in sharp contact with skin!!!! If you want soft plants, check out our Succulents!!!
Now comes the fun part of getting them to root, grow and thrive!
A lot of different factors play into the length of time it takes for these guys to begin rooting. Time of season, soil type, location, heat, and amount of sunlight are all factors to consider.
Cacti, like the vast majority of all other plants, will root best in warm temps and warm soil. Obviously spring and summer are the optimum seasons for getting these guys to grow, but indoors where you can control these factors, will help you as well.
Rooting your Cactus Cuttings
So your cutting/s have arrived. The bottom end should be dry and calloused. Sometimes we use a little sulfur on the end to help with drying and to protect it from any infection. The sulfur may turn a few colors. It’s okay. Just check to make sure the end is dry! If it is, you’re ready to go to the next step. If still wet for some reason, keep dry and allow it to sit in the shade for a few days, or even prop it up so the end faces the warm sun to help out. ** Be careful though of leaving it directly on it’s side in hot sustained sun as they can burn while on their sides.
If the end feels mushy/rotted (rarely will this happen in shipping) , you will need to cut the rotted section off. Make sure you cut into nice healthy cactus. You want to get rid of anything that’s not healthy! Then allow to dry in a shady dry area as noted above, a few days if warm, a week or so if not. You can also put some rubbing alcohol on a paper towel and wipe the ends to sterilize and or remove surface mold etc.
OK, you now have a dry calloused cutting end ready to plant. Soil is important for a number of reasons.
One, it needs to be porous/well draining soil, whether by adding sand, gravel, pummice, perlite, or other medium. Your soil needs to drain/dry quicker than your average houseplant soil or you risk your tricho/cacti rotting at it’s base. Wet, soggy soil kills succulents and cactus more than anything! If the soil is wet, it doesn’t need to be watered!
Two, your soil is both the home of your tricho/cactus, and it’s major source of nourishment! You’ve invested in these plants so spend a little more and purchase/create a quality soil for your cactus investment to thrive in. Ask your local nursery/gardening center for some basic cactus soil mix and you are ready to go/grow, or make your own. Google to learn how. You can later add fertilizer, worm castings, whatever you want to feed your cactus with, but wait to do this until it’s rooted and ready to take in the food!
Ok, so now you have your dry cactus cut, some proper soil (doesn’t need to be dry soil, a little moisture is just fine, just not wet, you shouldn’t be able to squeeze water out. **if your conditions are cooler/humid, go with DRY Soil), a pot with ***drainage holes***, and now you will scoop out a few inches of soil and gently place her into the soil, 2-3” down is fine. If you have a heavy or long cut, you may need to support with a stick or something. Place in a dry and shady spot for the next 3-4 weeks as you wait for roots to begin appearing. At this time, you can carefully check for root growth by gently pulling your cactus out and inspecting, either she’s started, or you have to wait patiently for another few weeks. If it looks rotted (shouldn’t), cut and start over. It's important to monitor your cutting during these 3-4 weeks, you are looking for any discoloration coming up from the bottom, the sooner you catch a problem with rot, the less you have to cut away and the quicker you can start again.
An alternative to vertical planting is laying your cactus horizontally on the ground or in a large pot if your cuts are small enough. The advantages of this is if you find your cactus pieces already broken and on the ground (check for roots along the section facing the ground), or if you have a large unattractive piece you want just to propagate from. Planting horizontally also provides more surface area for roots to form which in the end, will be a major factor in producing growth, as well as growth in multiple areas along it’s length!
If roots have begun, you can now begin watering gently, and make sure to wait for soil to dry a bit between each watering, remember, soggy sustained soil kills cactus! My experience with watering is I let it go all the way to the bottom so as to get the cactus roots to grow deeply vs staying shallow and near the surface.
Now your cactus are ready for some full sun, or you can experiment on their location.We have cactus in hot baking sun that are thriving if watered consistently. Color and growth are effected by lack of water. We also have many in partial shade, and some giants that have grown long and tall up along the sides of some trees, never getting full sun at all. This is up to you where you grow yours, but if you see them bending/reaching for the sun, you need to move them as this isn’t a good thing. Also, SLOWLY ACCLIMATE your recently rooted Tricho into bright, full, hot sun. They can sunburn just like you and I!
Other Notes of Interest
If you want to propagate (start new cuttings) from your cactus, just do as stated at the beginning. Take a clean knife or saw and cut off a piece/pieces and let dry and start the cycle over. You should get multiple new tips forming at the top of the cut in a few weeks! If your plant falls over and snaps, don’t stress out, just start over and turn into a new cutting!
Sometimes cactus will get a black spot or area on the tip or along it’s side. Sometimes these are caused by bruising, being poked by other cactus, etc. Sometimes they just appear. Lots of forums discussing this, sometimes it even looks like a little drip is coming out of it which usually is dry to the touch. Don’t panic! These black spots will turn into regular little scars in a few weeks/months and will grow down as new growth grows from the top. The key here is understanding the difference between these black spots versus real black rotted sections. Rotted cactus you can push your finger into. If your cactus gets damaged on the side and doesn’t heal properly, you will need to cut the dead section out. Your cactus should heal just fine, but the black/orange gooey flesh needs to go!
Flowers!!! Some are larger than others. Smaller cactus tend to have smaller flowers. Your first flowers will appear as small balls of white fur. Don’t knock them off! These balls will soon turn into flowers. Cereus and Trichocereus tend to have giant white/yellow flowers that bees and hummingbirds will go crazy over! We feed our flowers to our tortoises. They love them too! Sometimes your cactus will also produce fruit and seed pods, which are cool too!
Your columnar catus should grow at least a foot a year! Some may grow more, others less, obviously lots of factors involved here! Within each type of cactus species there will be variation. For example,different types of Trichocereus also grow differently in size and spine length, as well as color and shape. The rarer Bridgesii tend to always be on the skinnier side of the more commonly traded and collected San Pedro with their spines being randomly longer than the SP’s. Peruvian Torches have lots of long spines. Bic Macs are..Big and fat! San Pedros vary as well, some cuts are fat logs, others are skinnier. No two are alike! None are perfect, but that’s life!
Don't hesitate to email us with questions and or suggestions to our Cutting page, we're always open to learning new things and providing a better product to our customers.