How to Divide a Christmas Cactus

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Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper

  • Knife or hand trowel

  • Small pots

  • Pea gravel or small stones

  • Succulent potting soil

Under the right conditions a Christmas cactus will flower.

The decorative succulent known as the Christmas cactus is readily available in garden centers as an attractive, hardy houseplant that can withstand slight neglect in regular watering. As the plant grows, it produces multiple stems from the soil featuring broad, flat leaves which stack on top of one another and branch, making the cactus plant look full. To keep the plant from becoming too overgrown, you'll need to divide a Christmas cactus every four to five years.

Step 1

Spread out newspaper to cover your work area. Support the base of your Christmas cactus with one hand and pull the pot from the roots with the other hand.

Step 2

Use your fingers to work excess soil loose from around the roots of your plant. Note how the root system contains large white roots, each of which directly connects to individual stems above.

Step 3

Slip a knife or hand trowel between stems near the center of the plant at the soil level to divide the plant into two halves. Move the knife downward to slice through the smaller roots that may be tangled together.

Step 4

Continue to divide each half of the plant down the center, repeating the process until your individual sections hold three or four of the large, white roots. Gather together as many small pots as needed for the number of divisions you end up with.

Step 5

Cover the bottom of each pot with a 1/2-inch of pea gravel or small stones. Fill the pots halfway with succulent soil. Set each cactus into the individual pots.

Step 6

Hold the cactus so the base of the plant rests a 1/4-inch below the upper edge of the pot. Add more soil under and around the roots of the cactus to secure it and cover the roots. Continue until each Christmas cactus division has been planted.

Step 7

Set the divisions into a bright room away from direct sunlight. Water the soil to moisten it thoroughly and repeat watering each week. When new growth appears, move the pots to a sunny area.

references & resources

Amma Marfo

Amma Marfo is a higher education professional and writer. Presently, she shares her writing expertise in the Office of Student Activities and Multicultural Programs at Emmanuel College in Boston.