Grafting Cactus

For cactus enthusiasts, the technique of grafting cactus is more than indicated, not only because it is an interesting technique in itself, but because of the spectacular result it gives us, mixing types of feet and grafts of various shapes and colors .

We will also see the advantages that grafting cactus has for our plants.

Grafted Cactus
Grafted Cactus


What is a graft?

A graft is the union of two different plants, here graft cactus, which will join forming a new plant. There are two different parts;

– the foot or pattern of the graft or graft , which will have its roots thus giving sustenance and consistency to the grafted plant on top.

– the graft, the plant that we incorporate into the foot , where it will be welded and united so as to develop together, as a single plant.

Cacti are very easy to graft between species and do not usually give problems if we follow the technique and we do it with care and hygiene. In general, it is sought that there is a kinship between them, belonging both to the same family and gender. However, for the rest of succulent plants, the patterns and grafts must be compatible with each other.

The technique of grafting cactus is an easy way to reproduce plants , although it is also used to form new plant species.

What do we get when grafting cactus?

With the technique of grafting you can get plants, new, different, spectacular and unique and also with a faster growth.

When grafting cactus, we can get:

  1. Unique plants of very colorful shapes and colors. Colors, orange, yellow, red, pink, etc., giving life with the foot or base that synthesizes the chlorophyll, to types of cactus that would die to be able to do it.
  2. Save the life of a cactus that has rottenness in the foot, by excess of irrigation generally and that cutting the stem and grafting it on a healthy foot, have new life.
  3. Procure faster growth, grafting on a vigorous foot, those slow-growing species.
  4. They can graft, on feet of greater resistance to the rot of the roots or to the colder climate, those delicate species.
  5. A unique plant or example.
  6. For the multiplication of species that are difficult to grow, obtaining a resistant and easily cultivated foot.

Grafted Cactus
Grafted Cactus

Which feet carry grafts, pattern or base plant, should we use?

The species most used to graft cactus are:

  • Hylocereus undatus, etc. since they have a rapid growth and support more humid soils. They are short-lived, about 5 years old.
  • Trichocereus; pachanoi, spachianus, since being columnar cactus they go well and adapt to cold climates and dry substrate in winter.
  • Trichocereus; macrogonus, fulvianus or pasacana, since these have a very fast growth and are very vigorous.
  • Echinopsis; pachanoi, bridgesii, macrogonus, peruvianus, these are feet that can hold a graft for a long time on them.
  • Echinopsis multiplex, etc., since they are easy to grow, producing many shoots.
  • Eriocereus jusbertii, of great use of a time to this part by its ease of cultivation and therefore the fast obtaining of feet. It does not have too many thorns and it grows on any type of soil, but the best thing is that it is moist and rich. It supports the cold well, low temperatures.

Other feet or patterns to graft cactus.

  • Myrtillocactus geometrizans, fast growing columnar cactus.
  • Pereskiopsis is not a typical cactus, it has large leaves and it grows like a shrub. Especially indicated for micrografts.
  • Opuntias, also adapt well to the graft, especially the opuntia bergeriana.

Grafted Cactus
Grafted Cactus

When to graft cactus?

So that grafting cactus is a success, we must consider the best time for it and this is in spring and early summer. At this time the foot is growing, it is more vigorous, it heals earlier and it joins better.

In case of need, we could also get up until the beginning of autumn. You could even lengthen something else, if we consider warmer conditions, in a greenhouse.

Winter is clearly a time inadvisable to make cactus grafts, basically because we need the foot to be growing.

Grafted Cactus
Grafted Cactus

What do we need to successfully graft cactus?

We must first consider the family / species of the cactus to be grafted.

We must consider the size, this is the foot should be at least equal in diameter to the graft.

Ideally, the foot should be larger in diameter / section (wider) than the graft.

We must consider the age of the foot or graft carrier, it must not be very old or woody as it penalizes the foot / graft union, as it must not be very young since it must support the grafted cactus.

The tools or tools and tools that we will need are:

Fine cutting knife, clean and in good condition (blade, cutter, scalpel, etc …)

Cotton, absorbent paper.

Plastic kitchen film, large elastic bands or latex tapes, garters or thick thread.

Ethyl alcohol (96º)

To graft cactus!

The process of grafting cactus, divided into a series of steps that we will relate below:

1.- One week before the grafting, we will water and fertilize the plant a little more than usual, so that it is hydrated and more comfortable to do.

2.- Disinfect the blade or cutter with 96º ethyl alcohol.

3.- Cut the foot of the base cactus. Make a clean cut, without irregularities.

4.- Trim / round the edges of the foot, so that when drying or healing, do not pull and bend, which could disengage or detach the graft. This will leave the foot prepared to receive the graft.

Detail of foot cut and grafted cactus
Detail of foot cut and grafted cactus

5.- We make a clean cut of the cactus to be grafted (always with a section equal to or less than that of the foot, base or pattern).

6.- You have to act quickly and do not let the foot and graft cuts dry. Join them quickly.

7.- Check that the surfaces to be joined are clean and without irregularities.

Last steps to graft cactus.

8.-For the foot-graft union to be reliable, we must consider the following; the graft, its vascular bundles, must be placed on the vascular bundles of the foot, which cross the cactus vertically.

The vascular bundles are responsible for transporting the sap, essential to feed the graft. Therefore, for a ben coupling foot / graft, these should not be coaxial, this is to have the same axis.

The graft should be colored slightly to the right or left , so that the bundles or vascular rings of the foot / graft are intercrossed .

See how the vascular rings should be displaced

This will be very important to graft cactus, in grafts of adult plants. If they were young, it would not be so fundamental, since the young plant does not have the vascular rings clearly visible.

See the circular rings of foot and graft
See the circular rings of foot and graft

9.- Unite firmly, without excessive pressure, but avoiding air, unbound areas or impurities.

See vascular ring and defective cut
See vascular ring and defective cut

10.- Attach the foot / graft union with plastic film (if the graft is small) or elastic bands or thick thread …

Basic steps in cactus grafting
Basic steps in cactus grafting

11.- Once the graft is properly secured, it should remain in a warm place in the shade for at least a week. After these 7 or 10 days, depends on each union and the environment in which it is made, you can remove the rubber or film, since the graft will be welded.

12.- Once the process of grafting cactus has been completed, the union has already been welded, you will be able to put it in the sun, but not too long, since the grafted plant is weaker at that time.

Toxic and dangerous succulent plants

Cactus seedlings