How Many Cuttings to I need from my Christmas Cactus?

macthayer(z9a NV)January 14, 2008

I received a beautiful Christmas Cactus for Christmas. Immediately I noticed that some of the stems had been broken off in transport. Not one to lose an opportunity to propagate, I dipped them in a rooting compound and put them in a special gel for rooting plants (it's great stuff). I now have four cuttings that are growing roots! My question is, do I need to take more cuttings in order to eventually end up with a fairly large plant, or can I just plant these and have them put up more shoots later? Will it grow into a larger plant in this fashion? I know it sounds like a dumb question but I have no idea how these plants normally propagate. Thanks for any help!

MacThayer

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

wellllll ...

you have a big plant.. how is it planted????

and you have 4 extras .... plant one separate.. and three into one pot.. and see what you come up with .... experiment ...

also .. i think they would have rooted if you just stuck them in some medium ... dad has been abusing them for years and has had great luck .. lol ...

his plants .... under lights in a zone 5 basement ... do not bulk up readily .... as single plants... so if you want a giant plant in a big pot... you might be further ahead by planting multiples ...

you do know how to make them flower i hope .... it has something to do with light cycles... not dis-similar to poinsettia .... i trust you can follow up on that ... in other words... in zone 5.. i THINK they have to be 'forced' to bloom at Xmas .... go figure.. i will take the blooms whenever they want to provide them ...

ken

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 3:22PM
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macthayer(z9a NV)

Hi Ken. Thanks for the advice! Yes, I probably could have just stuck them in some medium and waited, but I found this "clear gel stuff" and it's just fascinating to me to watch the roots grow. It's like watching seedling sprout. Hey, I've got another root! I guess it's a gardener's thing. Anyway, the big plant is about, oh, I'd say 14 or 16 inches in diameter, and what I found interesting is that all of the shoots looked equal distance apart, as if they had been purposely placed in that arrangement. That is what made me wonder if you had to take more cutting to make a bigger plant. But surely they must propagate somehow on their own in the wild! I guess I'll have to investigate that.

I do like your idea of experimentation -- 3 cuttings in one pot, one in another and see what happens. I love to experiment.

But as far as getting them to bloom again on cue, I just have too much to do to play around with length of day and all that just to have blooms at Christmas. I'll happily take them when they come.

Thanks again!

Sherrill (MacThayer)

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 6:37PM
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msalex28a

Where did you find that gel stuff?
Alexandra

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 6:04PM
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macthayer(z9a NV)

Hi Alexandra,
I found the gel in a catalog from the "Kinsman Company". It's called Gel-2-Root, and it was still there in the Christmas Catalog so I'm sure they still carry it. They have a web site, and that is: www.kinsmangarden.com
It comes in 6 packs and bottles. I have both. I start the rooting process in the small "cubes" by dipping the cutting in a rooting hormone and then putting it into the gel through a hole I've poked in the top. However, after a while you will need to add more gel, which means gently peeling up one corner and adding gel from the bottle, and then smoothing it out with your finger. Alternatively, I have used cups with saran wrap over the top, and that worked just fine too.
MacThayer

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 6:46PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You'll have to let us know how the transplanting goes, when it's time to do that.

Xmas cacti reproduce by seeds in the wild. Our fancy hybrids must be reproduced by cuttings, though. The seeds won't produce the same luscious plants that cloning does.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 2:28PM
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macthayer(z9a NV)

Ah Ha! So that's why all of the branches of the plant look like they're equal distance apart, as if they were placed in that arrangement! It's because THEY WERE. So I have to clone the mother plant. I think I'll let it grow some more before I start hacking it apart. As of right now, the roots are doing wonderfully well on two of the cuttings, and kind of so-so on the others, but they all continue to grow. They have all gone through the "wilt and then recover" phase, so I know they're taking up nutrients via the roots. I'll let you know when they are actually growing in a soil-like medium.
MacThayer

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 8:22PM
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msalex28a

Any luck yet?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 10:39PM
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macthayer(z9a NV)

Well, they're not dead yet, so I suppose that's some form of success. I have 6 cuttings going, but noticed they didn't seem to be doing so well. So I un-potted them and I think I found the culprit -- the soil was too moist. Most of my lovely roots had rotted away! So I remixed the soil, added a lot more perlite for drainage, re-dipped the cuttings in rooting hormone, and drenched them in a soil drench that is supposed to stop damping off disease. So we'll see if they make it. If not, the "Mother Plant" is doing absolutely beautifully, and I feel confident that what I learn from doing this will help me to propagate her properly down the road. And, Oh Yes, one additional section fell off while I was watering the Mother Plant the other day, so it is now in gel awaiting root development. I am nothing if not persistent! MacThayer

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 3:49PM
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msalex28a

Are they six single cuttings or 6 with several attached?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 9:00AM
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macthayer(z9a NV)

6 with 1 or more sections attached (and at least 2 sections underground). I was seeing top growth on 3 of them, but when that stopped -- they didn't die, just stopped growing -- that's when I became suspicious and checked the roots.
MacThayer

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 12:37PM
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macthayer(z9a NV)

Hi. Well, the bad news is that my cuttings died. They just continued to shrivel up and lose "bulk", so I pulled them out and sure enough, they were rotting. The good news is I have two new cuttings that are doing nicely! Lessons learned! LOL! I won't make the same mistake (of potting in soil without adequate drainage) again. What's so wonderful about gardening is you always get to have a second chance (or third, or forth -- or however many you can stand!) MacThayer

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 2:17PM
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msalex28a

What will you use for soil next time?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:23PM
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macthayer(z9a NV)

This time I used a mix of a light light soil -less mixture -- about 2/3 of that, with about 1/3 of additional drainage (perlite). Plus a dash of fertilizer. It still seemed a bit "heavy" as the soil-less mixture contains peat which holds water. Next time I think I will switch the mix: 1/3 of the soil-less mixture to 2/3 drainage, and use some stuff I have that does so well to improve the drainage in my bonsai. What do you think of this? MacThayer

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:48PM
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