Today I am going to explain how you can clone your Christmas cactus. “But Dr O”, you might ask, “don’t we need a fully equipped laboratory and a set of pipettes and a lot of other expensive biotechnology stuff to do this?”
“Not in this case”, I would answer, “because we are cloning a plant and plants are so amazing that in fact they clone themselves all the time in nature – without using expensive equipment at all!”
They are able do this by sending runners, small shoot-like structures, along the soil. The runner eventually roots and becomes a new plant, which is genetically identical to the first one and thus is, per definition, a clone. Good examples for self-cloning are strawberry runners or lily bulbs.
So, how can you clone your Christmas cactus, or scientifically speaking, your Schlumbergera (this makes me imagine a smurf cactus, since the German word for smurf is “Schlumpf”…)?
The green bits on the Christmas cactus are not leaves, but modified stem segments, also known as cladodes. If you break off a few of these segments and put them into soil, they will develop roots and eventually grow into a full new plant. Mr Brownthumb has written a nice article about how to do this.
How about that as a New Year’s Resolution: Grow a whole clone army of Christmas Cacti for next Xmas? Muhahahaha!