Somebody gave me this cactus that had become too crowded for their pot.
It has a lot of projections that must have reminded some taxonomist of an
important part of the female anatony.
If it's OK to divide, any special precautions? (Aside from not getting pricked)
To handle prickly cactus, take a double sheet of paper towel. Fold it
over to create a strip about 2-3 inches wide. Wrap the strip around the
cactus, handling the cactus through the strip.
The following is based on my experience with zygocactus (Christmas
cactus) and epiphyllum (orchid cactus). Both are tropical cacti instead
of desert cacti. They have flat shoots instead of the round shoots of
Mammillaria. The zygocactus is history, done in by a sudden winter
freeze. I have renewed two epiphyllum about every 4th year for about
the last 14 years.
Cut a shoot from the parent plant. Dust the cut with rooting hormone
powder (available at most nurseries and some hardware stores). Allow
the cut to dry in the shade for 2-3 days.
In the meantime, make a mix of 2/3 coarse sand and 1/3 peat moss. (I
use washed plaster sand from a building supply yard.) DO NOT ADD ANY
NUTRIENTS. Wet the mix and use it to fill a plastic pot 1/2 full; the
pot must have drain holes in the bottom.
When the cut end of the shoot has dried a few days, stand the shoot up
in the pot. Pack more wet mix around it. The mix should be packed
quite firmly. You might need to stake the shoot to keep it upright.
Keep the mix slightly moist. Do not get it thoroughly wet or allow it
to become thoroughly dry.
Wait about 3 months. If the shoot does not look completely dead after
three months -- if it has not rotted and fallen over -- turn the pot
upside down and tap it to get the mix out in a single mass. Look for
roots. If there are no roots, carefully insert the mix and shoot back
into the pot; and wait another 3 months.
If a good root ball has formed, pot the cactus in a larger pot with the
same mix fortified with a small amount of bone meal.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
Cut however many stems you want to propagate. Use a sharp, clean knife.
Allow the cut to dry for a few days in a dry, but not too warm place.
It does not need any rooting powder or antifungal powder on the cut
surface if the cut was clean. When dry, push the cut end gently onto
clean dry sharp sand (coarse sand) until it is a few mm deep. If
necessary, support it with a few thin sticks such as toothpicks. Leave
in a cool place with good light (not direct sunlight if possible) for a
couple of months.
At the end of that time have a look to see if roots have formed. If
not, leave for another couple of months. If they have formed, pot up in
"cactus compost", or very free-draining soil with added grit. Water
very sparingly, and leave in good light in a warm place.
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