How to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus – expert tips for more seasonal succulents

Houseplant professionals share their tried and tested ways for propagating a Thanksgiving cactus

small Thanksgiving cactus growing in containers close together
(Image credit: Orsolya Molnárová / Alamy Stock Photo)

Learning how to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus means you get more of your favorite plants for free. What could be better?

The main methods are propagation by cuttings - in soil or water - and propagation by division. If you've cared for your Thanksgiving cactus and have an already thriving plant, you might want instant results, meaning division would be the preferred option. 

Otherwise, have a look at the cuttings technique for a Thanksgiving cactus, which is the method preferred by some of our experts.

These new plants would make wonderful seasonal gift ideas, or simply add them to your own indoor garden.

Large, green Thanksgiving cactus not in blooming season

It's best to propagate your Thanksgiving cactus once the flowering period is over

(Image credit: MASC05 / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo)

Three methods for how to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus

When it comes to Thanksgiving cactus vs Christmas cactus, the propagation methods are fairly interchangeable. Whichever method you choose, the best time to propagate your plant is after it has finished blooming. 

Although spring/summer will give the best results, Autumn Hilliard-Knapp, plant expert at Perfect Plants, assures us that it is not necessary to only propagate them at these times. 

'The Thanksgiving cactus will successfully propagate throughout the year indoors,' she says. 

Autumn Hilliard-Knapp
Autumn Hilliard-Knapp

Autumn is a horticulture specialist and marketing professional at Perfect Plants Nursery. With four years of experience in the horticulture industry, she has developed a passion for helping people create beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces to enjoy. Her expertise in horticulture encompasses a broad range of activities, including plant care and selection, landscape design, and maintenance.

How to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus by division

pink Thanksgiving cactus flowers

Division is a good method if you have a plant which is outgrowing its pot

(Image credit: Евгения Матвеец / Moment / Getty Images)

Whilst this is a quick and effective method of propagation, it's important to note that it has the most impact on your plant.

Tom Knight, owner at, says: 'I don't like doing this as the charm of these plants are their full and bulky look and their arching stems as they mature. You'll lose this if you divide the plant.'

But if this isn't a concern for you, this method will give great results. Tom Su, garden and landscaping expert at Lawn Edging outlines his steps below:

  • Separate with care: Take care when lifting the plant from its container. Gently run your fingers through the roots and divide the root ball into smaller parts. Or just take off one small section. Healthy stems and substantial root systems are key to success.
  • Repot your plants: Place each new plant into a container of a good potting mix. Give them light water and leave in indirect sunlight until they root.
  • Add rooting hormone: Although it is optional, using a rooting hormone on the stem bottom speeds up rooting. (Try this rooting gel for cuttings from Walmart).
  • Aftercare: The cuttings and divided plants should be kept in bright indirect light. Lack of sufficient shade and too much direct sunlight will subject the plants to stress conditions.
  • Have patience: It may take two to four weeks for rooting to take place and then over a month before you notice any growth. 
Tom su headshot
Tom Su

Owner of Lawn Edging Australia, a brand synonymous with innovative and sustainable garden design solutions. With over two decades in the landscaping industry, Tom has transformed countless gardens, infusing them with a unique blend of aesthetic appeal and environmental consciousness.

How to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus in soil

propagating stems in an egg box

Porous and loamy is best for propagating Thanksgiving cactus

(Image credit: Focused Adventures / Alamy Stock Photo)

If you choose to propagate using cuttings you need to decide whether to use segment (or stem) cuttings or leaf cuttings. 'They're very similar, says Tom Knight. 'The main difference is how long the propagating material is.

'If you look at the Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus, it's easy to see they grow in chain-like strands, with each leaf being an inch or so long,' explains Tom. 'Segment cuttings will have several leaves joined together in a chain, whereas leaf cuttings are single leaves. Both will work well.'

Tom outlines his steps below:

  • Make your cut: Choose healthy, mature leaves or segments. Avoid any that have a flower bud at the end. Use a clean, sharp knife to make the cut. Allow the samples to dry and callus for a day or two.
  • Place in a pot: Lay the cut ends of the leaf segments on top of a well-draining potting mix, burying them slightly. They don't need to be deep, but the cutting has to have good contact with the potting mix. You can use a rooting hormone, but it's not essential.
  • Aftercare: Keep everything moist and warm. Roots should develop in a few weeks, and new plantlets will often emerge from the base of the segments or leaves a short time after.
Tom Knight head shot
Tom Knight

A houseplant enthusiast that has run for the last 10 years. A popular website for anyone looking for success with indoor gardening or help getting their houseplants to thrive.

How to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus in water

Thanksgiving cactus propagating in water

Enjoy watching the roots form in water

(Image credit: BIOSPHOTO / Alamy Stock Photo)

The method for how to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus in water is the same as in soil, except you add your cut samples in soil. It's also a well-used method for how to propagate a Christmas cactus.

Autumn Hilliard-Knapp, favors the water method: 'I personally prefer propagating plants in water because I don’t have to water them as often and I enjoy watching the roots grow,' she says.

'I've only ever done it in soil, but you could give water propagation a go too,' says Tom Knight. 'It will take a few weeks but once you see roots forming in the water, wait until a network of roots have grown, then move them into a potting mix to grow on.'

Tom Su believes that propagation in soil is generally more effective, but that water propagation can be successful, too. 

'Put the cut into a jar of water such that only the bottom part stays wet. After the roots form, transplant it into the soil. Carefully handle the new roots so as not to destroy them,' he advises.


When is the best time to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus?

'You'll see quicker results if you propagate a Thanksgiving cactus in spring or summer,' says Tom Knight, owner at

'However you can do it at any point in the year as long as you can provide warmth and good light levels.'

Can you put cactus cuttings straight into the soil?

'Cactus cuttings can be planted with ease directly in an open garden bed or in any type of container,' says Tom Knight, owner of 

'Make sure the soil is porous and loamy for it to dry off fast, and not allow water to stick to its surface. Place the cut ends about an inch into the soil and press down lightly to fill around it,' he says.

Can you grow Thanksgiving cactus from cuttings?

'Yes, you absolutely can grow full plants from cuttings, and I have done so several times over the years,' says Tom Knight, owner of 

'Top tip: put multiple cuttings in the same pot. This makes your plant fill out much faster than a single cutting.'

Propagating your Thanksgiving cactus is a job best saved for spring or summer. But if you're impatient for more plants now, it's still possible to have success throughout the year. 

Just be sure to keep caring for your cuttings to make sure they take root, and grow to become healthy plants.

Teresa Conway
Deputy Gardens Editor

Teresa was part of a team that launched Easy Gardens magazine two years ago and edited it for some time. Teresa has been a Gardens Editor at Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors and Living Etc magazine since 2020 and has developed close working relationships with top garden designers, and has been exposed to an array of rich garden content and expertise.