Can Christmas Cactus be Rooted in Water?

The Christmas Cactus in California is a popular houseplant that is valued for its fascinating foliage and colorful blooms. Yes, it is possible to root Christmas Cactus in both soil and water. Some growers prefer to propagate Christmas Cacti in water because they like to witness the roots take hold in real time through transparent containers.

Rooting Christmas Cacti in water provides a fascinating insight into the world of plants and how they grow, giving us a greater appreciation for nature. The good news is that it’s relatively easy to root Christmas Cactus in water as long as you have the right tools. Let’s take a look.

The Tools You Will Need

Success with rooting Christmas Cactus in California requires access to the following tools:

  • A small kitchen knife or a sharp scalpel (the latter is better for making incisions)
  • A clear container, such as a small jar or a vase, that can hold water and provide adequate growing space for cuttings and their roots

Taking Cuttings from a Healthy Christmas Cactus

Your goal is to take healthy cuttings from a mature plant to improve your odds of success. Taking cuttings from a juvenile plant will be too stressful, and it may struggle to grow roots.

Use a sterile knife or scalpel to collect a short cutting from the stem tip that consists of a minimum of two to five stem segments (flattened leaf sections). A cutting with at least two segments should be able to root. Take as many stem cuttings as possible to maximize the chances of successful propagation.

Now, wait for the cuttings to heal by placing them in a cool, dry place for at least 48 hours. This would allow the cuttings to heal properly. Please do not keep the cuttings in direct sunlight because they are susceptible. Avoiding the sunlight will help you avoid stem rot.

Root the Cuttings in the Water

Once you have allowed the cuttings to heal, it is time to move to the next stage of the process: rooting in water.

Take an empty container that you have chosen and fill its bottom with pebbles, stones, or perlite. Make sure that the stones are about 2.5 inches deep. Now fill the container its rises just above the stones.

Now it’s time to submerge the Christmas Cactus in water. The best way to do this is to place the cutting into the water with the cut end downwards until at least two nodes are fully submerged. For best results, we recommend rooting at least four cuttings in a single container.

Now position the container in a spot that receives plenty of bright, indirect sunlight for a few days until the roots develop. Once the roots develop, continue waiting for another six to eight weeks until the roots reach an appreciable size (or as big as the cutting).

Monitor the Water levels

Closely monitor the water level and add more to ensure that the nodes are submerged. The container will lose water to the surroundings through evaporation. It doesn’t help that the cutting will absorb much of the water. This is why you will need to top the container with fresh water as necessary.

It is imperative to keep the water healthy at all times. If you notice the formation of algae, you will have to dump the container and refill it with clean water. The container’s humidity will help the cuttings to form roots without the risk of rotting.

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve satisfied your curiosity about seeing the rooting process take place in real-time, you have two options: allowing the cuttings to grow in water or repotting them in a high-quality potting mix.

It isn’t recommended to grow the cutting in water because the Christmas Cactus will struggle to absorb nutrients from the water.

The potting mix should ideally contain a little bit of sand and compost.

The next step takes you through the process of planting the rooted cuttings.

How to Plant the Cuttings in a Pot

Now that the cuttings have successfully formed roots, you may want to move them to a planting pot. The cutting will need adequate space to start growing. Make sure that that cutting’s new home isn’t too small or big.

Fill up the container with one part perlite and three parts of compost. The primary goal of the perlite is to improve soil drainage so that the potting mix doesn’t hold on to excess water. The potting mix should be kept moist for an extended period of time, and the ambient air should be kept at a temperature between 60°F and 70°F.

As long as you maintain the ideal conditions, your Christmas Cactus will grow at a relatively fast pace and bloom during the holiday season.

How Long Does It Take for Cuttings to Form Roots?

The cuttings may take anywhere from two to six weeks for the roots to form properly. Once you notice that the roots are beginning to form, it is time to transplant them to a new where the cactus can properly grow.

During the rooting process, you have to maintain a good balance of sunlight and water – not too much and not too little. Rooting a Christmas Cactus isn’t difficult, but it will require a bit of experimentation, and you should expect to fail the first few times. If so, don’t be afraid of starting over.

Can I Grow Christmas Cactus in Water?

 Rooting Christmas Cactus cuttings is one thing, but growing them in water is much different. Technically, you can grow a Christmas Cactus in water, but you will need to take several precautions to ensure your success with this approach.
You will also need to ensure that the plant is provided with clean water at all times, along with the right combination of nutrients. A pest infestation and algal outbreak could be devastating for your plants.

For this reason, you should remove the plant once every two to three weeks to wash the roots. Discard any dead roots and foliage because they could lead to greater problems later on. You should also clear the stem of the plant of any dust. Provide the plant with a fresh nutrient solution once every two months.

With that said, growing Christmas Cacti in water provides a number of benefits. For one, you can control the nutrient and water levels more accurately, which can lead to healthier plants.

Note that repotting will become essential once the roots have filled the inner container. This may happen in about two to three years. You typically won’t have to repot the Christmas Cactus until this happens.

Quick Guide to Rooting Cacti in WaterDetails
Take a fresh cutting from a mature plant using sterile toolsEnsure that the cutting has at least two to five stem cuttings
Fill a clear container with water and at least 2.5” of stones/pebblesEnsure that the water level is just above the stones
Place the cutting in a clear containerEnsure that the nodes are fully submerged
Position the container under bright, indirect sunlightMonitor the water for quality control and top up as necessary

9GreenBox - Red Christmas Cactus Plant - Zygocactus - 4" Pot

Wrapping Up – Can Christmas Cactus Be Rooted in Water?

So there you have it; you can root Christmas Cactus in water if you take healthy cuttings from a mature plant. Once you’ve mastered rooting Christmas Cactus cuttings, the rest of the process should be straightforward.

You must keep the cutting in clean water and place them under bright, indirect sunlight for at least two weeks. If you do everything right, you should notice the formation of roots in about two to six weeks. Always monitor the water for signs of algae and refill the container if you see signs of contamination.

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