A New Cactus Cutting Finds a Home

Planting cactus cuttings

Do you have a plant that you have wanted to add to your garden?  

I have wanted a certain cactus for my own landscape for a long time and earlier this week, I found myself bringing a cutting of my favorite cactus finally home.

A New Cactus Cutting Finds a Home

I was so excited that instead of putting it in the back of my car, I strapped it into the front seat for the ride home – I don’t recommend doing it that way for a cactus with thorns 🙂

In my work as a horticulturist, I have been fortunate to have picked up cuttings of certain cacti. Often, the cuttings result from pruning and it’s not unusual to see some left at the curb for trash pick up.

While I have planted a purple prickly cactus and a Mexican fence post from cuttings, I was still missing my favorite cacti in my garden.

'Monstrosus' (Lophocereus schottii 'Monstrosus')

I have often used totem pole cactus ‘Monstrosus’ (Lophocereus schottii ‘Monstrosus’) in my designs. I love its knobby shape and the fact that it is thornless.

What I don’t like about them is their price – a 1 1/2 ft. section can cost up to $40.

So you can imagine my reaction when I was visiting a client and came up upon this sight…

different types of cacti cuttings

Seeing so many different types of cacti cuttings, just ready for planting, made me almost hyperventilate.

There were beautiful cacti available – Agave americana ‘Variegata’, a unique species of prickly pear, Cereus peruvianus AND my favorite – Lophocereus shottii ‘Monstrosus’.

My client had received these cuttings from her next door neighbor who had just pruned back some of her cacti. It turned out the neighbor had a beautiful garden that has been featured in several magazines, including Phoenix Home & Garden.

I explained to my client where she could use the cuttings and explained the benefits of each one. When I mentioned that the Lophocereus was my favorite type of cacti, she offered to give me one.

Despite my desire for this type of cacti, I was hesitant to accept, but my client was insistent.

So, I picked out the smallest one and drove home.

New Cactus Cutting

On my way home, I thought about where I wanted to put my new cactus.

I finally decided on putting it in my front landscape in the large area to the side of the driveway.

Planting cactus cuttings

Planting cactus cuttings is extremely easy and the hole doesn’t have to be big.

Planting cactus cuttings

We planted my new cactus cutting so that the bottom 6 inches were buried.

Taking cuttings from cacti of all types is a fairly simple process, there are some guidelines that you need to follow.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about giving a cutting from our Mexican fence post cactus to our neighbor with step-by-step instructions that you can see here.

Our neighbor’s cactus has been in the ground for 2 years now and is growing so well – it’s formed two new ‘arms’.

I can hardly wait to see how my newest cactus grows!

How about you? Have you ever given or planted a cactus cutting?

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
10 replies
  1. Jean Campbell
    Jean Campbell says:

    Your new cactus will be in a great place as a conversation piece

    I grow jungle cacti which thrive better in our humidity. They root easily after you let them dry until a callus forms, then into potting mix they go. Every little piece that breaks off, big pieces too get salvaged for more plants.

  2. dryheatblog
    dryheatblog says:

    Nice find, and touching to see it buckled in!

    I've given and received cactus cuttings so many times over the last 2 decades, I lost track. Would have given even more, but my ex-neighbors were not connected to what they saw thrive…

    Just got a Klein Cholla cutting from a fellow garden volunteer…ready to plant!

  3. sandieaz
    sandieaz says:

    I too have desired the totem pole cactus and like you wanted one and I fell in love with these very unusual but beautiful cactus the first time I saw them.My story is; I was out for a walk one night near a field and a road, not near any homes,so it wasn`t anyone`s,in fact,it might have dropped off a trailer on the way to the dump. Well, it was too large to carry home, so I finished my walk and drove back to the place I saw it and brought it home. I left it to callas over,while I went for the cactus soil. I finally got to plant it and it was doing good and even started a bud about 1 month and a half after I found it. Then I don`t know what happened,but it started to die and I lost it. Maybe the reason it was headed for the dump is, it was diseased. So I`m totem poleless. There is a house in our neighborhood that has been empty that has one, but I feel like if I go get a cutting from that plant, that I would be stealing and then I`d feel guilty, so I`ll just have to figure out how to get one without stealing from someone else. Wish me luck finding one the RIGHT way.

  4. Liesl Henz
    Liesl Henz says:

    I understand that it’s a felony to cut down a cactus in AZ. Even if it’s in your property, you must obtain a permit 60 dats before cutting. Are you saying that you are allowed to trim them without a permit? And the cuttings are legal to give and take? I’m planning to visit AZ and I’m very interested in the gorgeous plant life. But I don’t want to end up arrested. I’m trying to determine the laws before my trip. Thank you

  5. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

    Hello Liesl,

    You can transplant or give away cacti on your own property. However, you are prohibited to destroy the cacti, even if it’s on property you own – “Landowners have the right to destroy or remove plants growing on their land, but 20 to 60 days prior to the destruction of any protected native plants, landowners are required to notify the Department. The landowner also has the right to sell or give away any plant growing on the land.”

    So, in answer to your question, you can purchase cactus from a nursery or be given one by the owner of the property where it originated.

    I hope this helps!

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