How to Take Cuttings of Epiphytic Cacti

Rhipsalis Micrantha cuttings spread out to dry

Today I'm going to show you how to take cuttings of epiphytic cacti, specifically rhipsalis micrantha.  This lesson applies to Christmas cacti, dragonfruit, night blooming cacti, orchid cacti and any other epiphytic cacti that you have to work with.  This is seriously one of the easiest and most rewarding projects for a beginning gardener, since rainforest cacti can handle just about anything.  I've rooted many in regular potting soil, in orchid bark and have even left my christmas cactus under some pine needles all winter to find that they made it!  Epiphytic cacti are a diverse group, including epiphyllums (orchid cacti), christmas and easter cacti, rhipsalis, dragonfruit and many more drastically different plants.  As you can see in the photo below, even species in the same genus can bear little resemblance to one another!  I've included some other rhipsalis in my collection to give you an idea of the variety involved.

I don't even know what kind this is, but its putting out a ton of flowerbuds!

Step 1.  Take the Cuttings
My hanging basket of rhipsalis micrantha was getting to be so overgrown that it was difficult to take it down for watering!  I used a clean pair of pruners to remove the old stems where its gotten congested, leaving the new growth to fill in.  To the left is a photo of all the cuttings I took!  After taking all of those cuttings my hanging basket still has a huge amount of growth, so I'll be taking cuttings throughout the year to keep it from getting too heavy.  Growing out of the centerpiece is an easter cactus that I rooted two years ago using only 3 inch long segments.  Now it has four bright red flower buds, growing in nothing but bark with occasional watering!

Step 2.  Leave Out to Dry
This is so that the clipped ends heal and scab over, which discourages pests and rot.


Step 3.  Dip in Rooting Hormone if Desired
Though not really necessary, this may give the cuttings a head start by promoting root growth at the cut ends.  I've found that most rooting takes place in between the segments anyways, especially when its warm and humid.  I used the rooting hormone in only one container, just to see if it makes any difference.  I'll be sure to include an update to this post when I get results!

Step 4.  Insert Cuttings Into Soil
Fill the pots almost to the top with potting soil.  Then poke the cuttings into the dirt, just deep enough to keep them from toppling over.  You can fill up the pot with as many as you want!  I use potting soil just to encourage rooting.  When you repot the cuttings you can use an epiphytic blend of your choice.  I like to use a blend of potting soil and orchid bark.

Step 5.  Cover Lightly With More Soil
This helps to stabilize the cuttings and gives the roots something to cling to.  Don't worry about the stems rotting too much, since we're not going to drown them in moisture anyways.




Step 6.  Water Deeply 
And then relax!  Roots should form in a couple of weeks, and you'll get new growth in a month or two.  Later on you may choose to repot in a well draining mix for epiphytes but its not necessary as long as you don't over-water them.  I personally water my epiphytic cacti about once a week.



Here is a photo of the hanging basket after the pruning, just to give you an idea of how prolific it is.
I placed the remainder of the cuttings at the base of my fiddle leaf fig tree, since they'll look gorgeous trailing over the edge of the pot.  


I know that many of you don't own epiphytic cacti, but the next time you get an Easter cactus as a present, hopefully this provides you with some inspiration.  Many of you guys down south can even grow these outdoors so in my mind there's no excuse not to give these lush beauties a shot!
Here's a link to my Rhipsalis Plant Profile from earlier this year.

8 comments:

  1. I will definitely check back when I get an epiphytic cactus.

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  2. I love propagating plants via cuttings. I have different color of chrismas cactus. They either came from my friends' plants' cuttings, or be used as cuttings to pass along to my friends.

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  3. I really enjoy propogating, especially easy plants like succulents. This is an interesting one, indeed. I like the appearance. You'll have LOTS of plants from those cuttings! I found some Christmas Cactus that was tossed out, and wasn't fairing so well. I don't think I can save it, although I'm trying. You never know!

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  4. What a great collection! Very informative post. I should ask you why one of my Christmas cactus (one blooms red, and one blooms white) in the same bowl...the leaves turned red (the one that flowers white). The other one has green leaves just as always! Wonder why? Any ideas??? You know what...I will go get a pic and post it on my blog for you to see! Thanks...
    Julie

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  5. I have this cactus plant - been taking it for granted too long until most of the plant died until I'm just left with one pot.

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  6. Good info in this post. I have a few different types of this cactus. I have no idea of their names however. All were given to me as cuttings by fellow gardening friends. I hope mine will grow like yours. I think I need to get some hanging pots for them.

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  7. Great info. on taking cuttings from the cacti. It's always beneficial to hear what works for other gardeners. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. The one you said you don`t know the name with tons of flowerbuds is: Rhipsalis pilocarpa. I have one; it's big and has many branches.. but since i have it, 8-10years I never seen it making flowers :(

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