Quick And Easy Steps: How To Propagate Cactus Pups

Just cut the babies away from the mother plant and grow them in the planters. If you want to try cactus propagation using the pups, follow our guide below for detailed instructions.

Propagating cactus is relatively easy. You can do it in several ways, such as seeds and stem cuttings. Compared to the two methods, cactus pup propagation is the easiest and most effective way to have a new cactus collection. However, many still do not know the correct method to propagate a cactus using the offset. That’s why we are here to provide a detailed explanation of the steps on how to propagate cactus pups in a fast and easy way.

Although it seems easy, there are some critical points to consider during propagation. In addition, plant owners must pay attention to the factors that support their growth to ensure they thrive.

What do you think they need? How to guarantee successful propagation and produce quality offspring? Find the answer in the following sections!

What Are Cactus Pups?

You may be wondering, what are cactus pups? Do they look like puppies, so they are called pups? Nope. The Cactus pup is a small part of a parent plant. Usually, they will grow in clusters at the base of cactus plants.

Meanwhile, some others develop on the stem, for example, Globular cacti.

Furthermore, these offsets can grow new cactus plants if you plant them in another pot. This method is known as cactus pup propagation. Hang on! We will talk about it later.

how to propagate cactus pups
Cactus With Pups

However, not all cacti produce pups. Only a few cacti species produce offspring, such as the barrel and rosette types. Suppose you have one of these, but they don’t have an offset. In that case, you need to stimulate its growth. How is that possible?

First, prepare the cactus that you have and a sharp knife that has been sanitized. Just rub alcohol on the cutting tool to eliminate pathogens. Then, cut your cactus at least 10 cm horizontally. To prevent rot, allow it to be callous for 2-3 days.

Next, water the cactus for the first 1-2 days. You can mist the soil surface to retain moisture. But remember not to overflow it unless you want the cactus to die. After a month, you will see new babies grow next to the cactus cut.

1. Why Is My Cactus Growing Little Balls?

Don’t worry if your cactus suddenly produces lots of small balls at the base. They are cactus babies! They are the result of asexual reproduction to produce new offspring. Sometimes, they can also grow on the parent plant’s stem.

In this case, you may check on the growth point, whether or not there is a wound on that part. The damage is likely to cause the growth of pups on the side part of your cactus. Furthermore, you can let it grow on your cactus or plant it in a new pot. Usually, it will take a few weeks for the little balls to grow their own roots.

2. What Happens If You Don’t Remove Cactus Pups?

Removing cactus offset is not mandatory. You can let the offshoots grow with the mother plant. However, we recommend cutting them and planting them in another pot. Too many baby plants will overcrowd the soil. Thus, it can make your cactus growth slow down.

With that being said, cutting is beneficial to offer more space to the existing plant. And, of course, growing new plants. If you choose to transfer the babies to a container, the best time to do it is between late spring to early summer.

You must cut them once they have reached 1.5-2 inches. Or make sure they are at least 1/5 of the size of the brood.

How to Propagate Cacti Using Pups

Besides cactus seeds and stems, you can grow new plants from the pups. In fact, it is the easiest to do as you don’t need to buy seeds. Just cut the babies away from the mother plant and grow them in the planters. If you want to try cactus propagation using the pups, follow the step-by-step guide below for detailed instructions.

Cactus With Pups
Man Propagated Cactus Pups At Greenhouse

1. Cut The Pups

Before propagating cacti, the first thing to do is to know how to cut the cactus pups. You must prepare a clean and sanitized cutting tool. It is vital to prevent cross-contamination of diseases, bacteria, or pathogens in your plant.

You can use rub alcohol to sanitize a sharp knife or shear. Also, ensure no parent plant parts are attached to the offset. If so, remove them, as they can trigger rot and inhibit the pup’s growth.

Once everything is set, take your prepared knife and position it at 45 degrees. This will make it easier for you to cut the offset. In addition, it will allow easy callus as the water is diverted to other parts of the cactus. Usually, this process will take about a month. Though it highly depends on the climate you live in.

Furthermore, the sulfur powder may be helpful as an additional preventive measure against microbial infection. You can apply it to the pup’s cut end. Once the pups’ texture has hardened, dry, and is accompanied by a whitish color, you can start to root them.

2. Rooting Cactus Offset

The next step is rooting the offset. You can plant it on dry soil covered in gravel. Another alternative is the combination of sand, perlite, and ground charcoal. Luckily, it doesn’t take too long for the offshoot to root. Only about a week until you see baby roots growing at the base.

Once you notice them, transfer the pups to a pot. Nonetheless, it only applies if your pups don’t have roots. Just jump to this stage if yours already has few roots.

3. Transferring To A Pot

This is the most important step in cactus propagation, transferring the pups to a new pot! You can begin by choosing the right size container. This cactus seed requires a slightly larger pot than its size as it will give the root space to be fully established.

But it doesn’t mean that a huge pot is better. A pot that is too big will actually harm the plant’s health. It holds more water than the plant needs, leading to root rot. In addition, such a pot also increases the risk of stunting.

Hence, it is crucial to buy the right one. In addition, purchase a plant container with drainage holes to allow water to quickly escape from the soil.

The next thing to consider is the potting mix. Instead of buying one, you can combine the perlite and compost with one to one ratio. Another alternative is a mix of pumice and peat. Now, you can plant the pups!

4. Planting Your Cactus Pups

You must remember that they are babies, despite having roots. Hence, gently plant them in the soil mix you have previously prepared. Ensure only 1/4 of it is planted in the soil while the rest poking on the surface. Then, firm the ground with your hands or a small shovel until they are stable and not wobbly.

Furthermore, don’t forget that cactus is a desert plant that needs sunlight. So, putting the pot in an area with sun exposure is a must. Instead of excessive light like the mature cacti, these pups love bright indirect light. And as a new plant, ensuring moist soil is essential.

You can do it by watering the ground about five days after planting to avoid root rot and other fungal infections.

What Kind of Potting Soil Mix Is for Cactus Puppies?

Cacti don’t like too much water. When you overflow it with water, the stem will be watery and mushy before rotting. Therefore, determining which potting mix works for cacti is vital. This drought-tolerant plant loves well-drained soil.

So, we recommend buying potting soil specifically for cacti.

Potting Soil Mix Is for Cactus Puppies
Potting Soil Mix Is for Cactus Puppies

However, experts will usually make their own soil mixture. Here are a few tips to make your own potting mix like a pro at home:

  • Moist the soil. You can do this by misting the surface to make it wet. But remember, don’t spray too much! Water trapped in the ground for too long can trigger fungal growth. Especially as a newly planted plant, your pups are susceptible to such troubles. You can choose pumice to make the soil dry faster.
  • Put the pot in bright indirect sunlight. It will help the soil dry easily and improve air circulation. Besides, such light intensity is favorable for stimulating root growth.

When Should You Plant Your Cactus Puppy?

Late spring to early summer is the best time to plant cactus puppies, as it is their active growing season. During these months, the sun is plenty. Thus temperatures get warm. Meanwhile, the humidity is rising, around 40% or higher.

You can plant the cactus puppy at night when the temperature reaches 60°F or more. The temperatures are favorable to encourage root growth.

Cactus Propagation From Cuttings
Cactus Propagation From Cuttings

However, it must be taken into account that the pup must dry prior to planting. Wet cut-end can lead to fungal infection and diseases, as this baby plant is prone to health issues. You also have to look at the climatic conditions where you live.

It is better to grow them indoors to avoid overflowing the pot with water if it is rainy. In contrast, the arid climate makes your cactus demand more water. You can mist them once in a while during the hot summer.

How Often Should You Water Cactus Pups?

Like agave or other desert plants, cacti don’t need a lot of water. However, it still requires moist soil to thrive. Especially if you grow the pups. Hence, watering is necessary to lock the humidity. You can offer water once per one or two weeks, particularly in their growing season.

How Often Should You Water Cactus Pups
How Often Should You Water Cactus Pups

Usually, it happens in the summer. Then, reduce the watering schedule to once a month during winter because they enter dormancy.

Despite being a hardy plant, letting it thirst is unwise. Your cactus may begin to dry out if it is not given water for too long. In addition, we don’t recommend watering the newly planted pup right after planting. This is because they are still adapting to the new growing environment.

In addition, it increases the risk of fungal diseases. Therefore, it is better to water the pup about five days after planting.

How Long Do Cactus Pups Take To Root?

The key to growing cacti from pups is patience. Why? Because it takes 4-6 weeks until the puppies grow roots. So long, isn’t it? However, it will be worth it once you manage to transfer it to the pot. During this growth process, make sure your pups are getting adequate nutrients.

how to propagate cactus pups
How Long Do Cactus Pups Take To Root

Apart from the potting mix, you can give all-purpose fertilizers once a year. Choose the one with low nitrogen content and water soluble for easy absorption into the soil. Then, dissolve a quarter of the strength to avoid fertilizer burn.

In some cases, over fertilizing causes the parent plant to produce uncontrollable puppies and split.

Final Thoughts

Propagating a cactus from pups is the best and easiest way to produce new plants. You only need to cut, root, and plant them in a new plant container. However, factors like growing conditions, how to propagate cactus pups, selection of pots, and potting mix play essential roles in ensuring healthy plants.


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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Should you remove cactus pups?

Cactus pups generally grow in clusters on the mother plant. You can remove the puppy to make them look neat and solid. It is optional. However, it’s a different case if you notice the pups grow on the dying mother. It is better to propagate them by taking the puppy.

How do you take a puppy from a cactus?

To remove cactus pups, you must ensure the cutting tools are clean and sanitized. It is crucial to prevent disease. You can rub it with alcohol. Or if you have a 10% bleach solution, it will work too!

Then, position a sharp knife about 45 degrees to the pup and cut it. Such a cut will allow the mother plant to divert the water from the cutting part. Thus, it won’t rot and harm your cactus.

What does an overwatered cactus look like?

Unlike other plants that love water, cacti don’t need it frequently. Instead, too much water is detrimental to this desert species. You will start noticing browning stems which can later turn black.

This symptom will be followed by mushy and watery stems. And worse, your plant will die quickly. So, it is better to provide only 1/2 or 1/4 cup of water per 1-2 weeks. Don’t worry. They are adaptable to drought and can store water on their fleshy stems.

Can you replant cactus pups?

You can easily regrow your cactus pup by taking it from the mother plant. To do this, you’ll need a sharp knife or shear. Make sure to sanitize it before cutting to prevent cross-contamination. After that, plant the cactus cuttings in the soil. The roots will grow from the pups’ cut-end and present you with a new plant.

How can you make your baby cactus grow faster?

The key to accelerating your baby cactus’s growth is providing the growing conditions it loves. Like desert plants in general, cacti love to soak under the sun. Thus, bright direct sunlight is crucial. Despite tolerating extreme drought, cactus pups need water too.

Offer 1/2 cup of watering per week in the hottest months, around July and August. Next, you can water it in 1/4 cup per week or two weeks. To boost the growth, fertilize your cactus with diluted all-purpose fertilizers 2-3 times a year. Add it in any season as long as it’s not winter and not frost.

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