Cutting cactus: The right time to cut your cactusIf your concern is multiplying cactus, do not worry because there are many ways to propagate this plant. One example is through cutting cactus.

But take note, there are specific examples of cactus that are perfect for cuttings. A few are prickly pearls or sometimes called Opuntia, Columnar cacti, Pincushion, and Globular cacti.

Cactus is a non-demanding plant that does not need so much attention and care because enough watering, good quality soil, and sunlight are sufficient for them to survive.

Its low maintenance quality does not lessen the appeal it provides in your own home. Most plant lovers use this as a design on a table or furniture because of its attractive forms, eye-catching shapes, and unique flowers.

Now, maybe most of you are hesitant in cutting cactus because you do not have enough knowledge or skill in doing it, or you are unsure if the cactus is ready for cutting. With that said, the following information will equip you with knowledge about cutting cactus and how to succeed in doing it.


Right Time to Cut Your Cactus

The following will inform you about the signs that it is the right time to cut cactus.

  1. One of the main reasons for cutting cactus is for propagation. You can replant the cactus cuttings to produce a new cactus plant. In this way, gardeners can grow their collections of cacti without buying another cactus. Please take note, when cutting for propagation, the right time is when the cactus has matured pads.
  2. It would help if you also cut it when the size of the cactus plant is inappropriate with its pot. Cutting is done to control its size and to maintain its appropriate height for its container.
  3. Cutting cactus is also done, significantly if some parts are damaged, it has unhealthy branch/es, or there are dead flower stalks after the flowering season. Please do not cut the cactus before the blooming season so that you can witness the cactus showing off its beautiful flowers.
  4. When you notice the signs of stem rotting in your plant, it is also the right time to cut the cactus. There are two ways of stem rotting, the first one is from top to bottom, and the other one is vice versa which is bottom to top. It is essential to immediately cut back the damaged parts to prevent the rot from spreading.
  5. Even if cacti have spines that serve as their defense mechanism, it will not wholly defend them from harmful and chemical-resistant pests. With that, if other ways do not work and pest exterminators are having a hard time dealing with it, then it is the right time to identify and cut the affected parts to save your cactus plant.


Pieces of Advice in Cuttings Cactus

Look at the following tips and safety precautions, as these may help you successfully cut cactus and prevent any damage to your cactus plant.

  • Make sure to use the cutting tools appropriate to the size of your cactus plant, some gardeners use a blade or cutter for small cacti, and some use a saw for tall or giant cacti. Moreover, ensure that the tool you will use is sharp and free from dirt or stain; that is why you need to disinfect them.
  • Wear protective gloves to guard your hands against the sharp spines of the cactus. You can also use a tong to hold your cactus plant.
  • Always be careful in cutting to avoid any damage to your plant.
  • Ensure to take the cactus cutting at an angle. In this way, the mother cactus cannot hold or collect all the water that may cause overwatering and triggers root rot.
  • Put powdered charcoal in the cuts to control the sap coming from the cactus plant.


How to Cut your Cactus

Cutting cactus is an uneasy task wherein it requires extra effort and patience. You also need to acquire an ample amount of knowledge about this process to be successful. But worry no more, adhere to the following detailed procedure about cutting cactus and prepare the needed materials. 


  • Gloves
  • cutting tool (scissor, large blade or cutter for small cactus, saw for giant cactus)
  • Tongs


Cutting Opuntia or Padded Cactus

  1. Identify the pads you are going to cut– you need to first examine your cactus plant before cutting it. Carefully pick the mature pads that you are going to detach. Take note, when cutting cactus, you need to prune the whole pad, meaning, do not cut just sections of the pad.
  2. Cut the pads located at a safe angle– this means you can begin cutting in the outer parts where you can safely cut them. Remove the part of the joints which is between the segments.
  3. Detached only the needed pads– if your objective in cutting is to remove the damaged parts, only cut the healthy pads that may block your way to reach the damaged pads. On the other hand, if your purpose is for propagation, cut only the needed places and avoid too many cuts because it may harm the cactus plant.

Once done cutting the cactus, separate the damaged parts from the healthy cuttings. 


Cutting Columnar Cactus

  1. Start by choosing the section/s to be cut away.
  2. Hold the section to be cut with tongs.
  3. Cut the stem in a slanting way and at a 45 degrees angle.
  4. Ensure that the cut will let the water slip to save the plant from root rot when watering.
  5. When your goal is to cut the damaged part of the cactus because of stem rotting or pest infestation, you can dispose of the damaged stems and separate them from the cuttings used for propagation.


Ways where you can use your cuttings

Cactus cuttings should not be disposed of immediately because they have many purposes except those damaged or pest-infested cuttings. You can replant the detached offsets once they mature.

The pads from the padded cactus or stems from the columnar cactus can form callouses after several days to produce a new cactus plant.

Moreover, if your goal is to remove the dead leaves or flower stalks after the blooming season, do not put them in the trash because you can use them as compost to the soil.

Detaching requires a lot of time and energy still, the satisfaction it gives is priceless because you can save your plant from various problems that may cause harm to them.

Always remember, even if cacti are very low-maintenance plants, they also need your care and attention.

Also, please note that cutting cactus is not about damaging the striking forms they possess, but to aid them to thrive, survive and multiply.


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