I love cacti

09.11.17

I’ve had big love for cacti since working in my Aunt’s garden centre nearly 18 years ago, and lots of gorgeous Palm Spring homes shared on Pinterest and Instagram has been responsible for another spike in popularity for these sculptural plants. I had high hopes for my very own mega cactus garden when we moved, but I had to park those dreams once I discovered how much established plants actually cost these days. Pretty astronomical unfortunately!

I was so excited to spot these ‘Mother in Law’s Tongues’ and ‘Columnar Cacti’ in a seconds pile (literally a pile) at a local garden centre today, I snapped up a handful for a steal so I could test out my propagating skills before committing to some more serious purchases.

You can propagate columnar cacti by slicing pieces with a sharp knife, you then leave to callous over and then plant. Here are (very) detailed instructions I came across after doing a bit of research. It’s very wordy, but the process isn’t at all difficult:

  1. Disinfect the blade of a sharp knife using a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. Lay the knife on a flat surface. Allow the blade dry completely before using it.
  2. Select a piece of columnar cactus to root (around 20cm in length is a good size). Put on gloves to protect your hands. Steady the top of the columnar cactus with one hand. Sever the cutting using the disinfected knife. Cut at a 45-degree angle without sawing the flesh of the plant.
  3. Place the cutting upside down in an empty pot so that the cut end is exposed to the air. Set it in a warm, dry spot out of direct sunlight. Allow the end of the cutting to dry out for at least three days, or until the wound heals and takes on a hard, whitish appearance.
  4. Fill the bottom half of a pot with succulent potting mix (or a good mix of sand and regular potting mix).  Make sure one-third to one-half the length of the cutting is below the edge of the pot.
  5. Hold the cutting upright while filling in around the edges with more potting mix. Shake the pot slightly to settle the soil. Gently firm the mixture around the cutting. Add more, as needed, to fill the pot close to the top.
  6. Water the columnar cactus cutting two days after potting it. Drizzle water onto the growing mixture until it feels slightly damp. Maintain light dampness in the growing mixture, but allow it to dry out slightly in the top inch before applying more water.
  7. Set the potted columnar cactus cutting where it will receive very bright but indirect light Shelter the cutting from direct sunlight, which can cause the flesh to dehydrate and make it likely the cutting will die.
  8. Check for roots four weeks after planting. Firmly hold the base of the cactus, and gently try to lift it; if the cutting does not move, it has produced roots.
  9. Transplant the columnar cactus cutting into a permanent pot filled with succulent potting mix or directly into a sunny garden bed four weeks after it has rooted. Water it sparingly.

Wish me luck! I’ll let you know how I go, I’m aiming for a Columnar Cacti forest at the front of the house within a year.

Briar x

PS. Spot Baby Raff ; )

1 comment

  • Mike

    I’ve never grown any cacti larger than the potted varieties but my understanding is that they are fairly straightforward—just go easy with the water and all should go well.
    Spotted the little bugger! Much more fun than finding Waldo.🙂

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