Cutting cacti - how does it work?

Cutting cacti - how does it work?

Preparatory work for a successful cut

Pay special attention to the quality of the cutting tool so that a cactus with its succulent, fleshy shoots and leaves can survive pruning without damage. Furthermore, please take appropriate precautions with the following preparatory work so that you do not become a victim of the prickly plant reinforcement:

  • Have a scalpel or freshly sharpened knife ready to cut fleshy parts of the plant
  • Use a saw knife to cut woody shoots
  • Disinfect each blade with alcohol
  • Put on sturdy gloves made of leather or nitrile
  • Purchase charcoal ash from the garden center for wound treatment

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As dexterity is impaired with thick gloves, we recommend using barbecue or kitchen tongs to fix the shoots.

How to shorten a cactus properly

The best time to prune cacti is between March and July. With the following incision, any damage is repaired, the size is regulated and at the same time a renewed shoot is ensured:

  • Shorten a cactus that is too long or too big at the narrowest point
  • Make the cut at a slight angle so that the sap can run off freely
  • Ideally, cut back unbranched columnar cacti to the end of the stem
  • Cut away sick, putrid areas down to the light, undyed tissue

Then dust the cuts with the charcoal powder to minimize the flow of sap and to disinfect the area. If you are shortening diseased plant parts, please wipe the blade with an alcohol-soaked cloth after each cut.

The ideal cutting depth should be such that at least 1 to 2 sleeping eyes linger on the shoot or trunk. Where thorns or leaves thrive, there are usually buds capable of sprouting, without which further growth is not possible.


Cacti are not poisonous, so there is no need to worry about caring for them. However, the risk of injury from the often very sharp and powerful thorns should not be underestimated. Opuntia give us edible fruits and at the same time treat us with spines that cause painful injuries and inflammations on the skin.