Cacti experts, help!
November 19, 2009 8:15 AM   Subscribe

I have some questions about cacti. First, can you help me identify the awesome cactus my boss' husband gave me? It looks exactly like this one (though that's someone else's photo).

Second, can you recommend how to take and transplant a cutting from it? I've read some guides and know to let it callous over before potting it, but I'm not sure how or where to cut - it's larger than this one, with lots of branches and paddles and bulbous bits. Should I just try to get most of a node? And when I pot it, should I bury it or just put an inch or so into the soil? Is half sand and half soil the right mix to use? I've read a lot of different opinions. Ditto on whether to water it after repotting or not. Basically, all cacti tips are welcome.

posted by peachfuzz to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When I take cuttings from my cacti, I make a clean cut where a paddle or a branch connects into the rest of the plant. I leave the cutting sitting out on the counter for a couple of days to let the cut seal. When it is time to plant, I just put about a 1/3 of the cutting into the soil, leaving 2/3s sticking up. I give a little water at that point to just moisten the area and encourage the plant to start rooting.

I don't know what's best as far as a sand/soil mix and frequently just buy a bag of soil mixed for cacti and other succulents. I water my cacti about once a month when they're inside in the winter. Once we're well past the last of the spring freezes, I move them all out onto my sunny patio until fall arrives. I don't water them at all then. I just let the rain do it. After a particularly heavy storm, I do check them to make sure there's no standing water in their pots. When they're in, I cluster them around the sunny windows. The only exception is my big one that's now too large to move easily. He's in a corner and seems to have adjusted well enough.
posted by onhazier at 8:38 AM on November 19, 2009

Seconding the cut in obvious places - in my experience cuttings grow very easily.

I'm a fan of prickly pears (Opuntia) as you can grow most of them outside almost anywhere. I've got half a dozen that live outside year round very happily in London.
posted by rhymer at 8:52 AM on November 19, 2009

I wish I could help identify your cute new baby, but I can't, sorry, I've never seen one before.

My tried-and-tested scientific method of cacti/succulent propogation is this: wait til a storm/strong wind/stray child knocks the pot over or drops a branch on a plant in a garden bed, breaking off bits. Gather the broken bits, get some rubbishy dirt from the garden (NOT healthy rich soil, find the lousy stuff with no goodness in it whatsoever - I'm serious! I swear by it!), chuck it in a pot, shove the plant bit into it, give it a light watering... and I have a pretty good success rate, around 90% I reckon.

If I had your new baby, I'd gently re-pot it in early spring (so the plant is buried in the soil to the same level it was before, don't bury it any deeper or shallower than it was in its last home) and leave it alone. I'd also wait a year to see if it self-propagates by new plants appearing around it (like aloe vera does) before I started chopping bits off.

My thumb is so un-green it's almost red, but cacti and succulents are usually lovely forgiving creatures, and if I can establish and maintain a cool garden full of freaky weird plants that fascinate passers-by, anyone can. Good luck.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:48 PM on November 19, 2009

« Older The Dare Essentials   |   Deleting spyware Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.