Advice on growing opuntia cactus

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Robert

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I'm planning on buying some cactus pads for my leopard tortoise. From what I see, I can pot one of the pads and grow my own. I admit I have a history of having a black thumb. I'm hoping to turn this around and begin to grow as much as I can for my tort. (Not just cactus, but I thought it might be a start.)

My question is: what is the technique for planting the opuntia pad?

What time of year, temperature, is a good time to start?

How much can I expect one pad to yield?

How quickly do they grow?

What is the best way to remove thorns? Is thorn removal necessary for a 3 year old leopard?


Thanks in advance for any advice.

Rob
 

Turtulas-Len

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Hello Rob, I grow several different kinds of the cold hardy opuntia and I plant year round outside in the ground and in pots, in fact I need to re-plant some seedling's tomorrow, I had about 30 seedlings in a tall pot that some how got turned over and they were spread all over the place.There is no wrong way to plant cactus,the only problems will be to much water(in winter) and or not enough sunlight.During the growing season I water to keep the soil moist, this produces many new growth pads that are spine-less and are fed to the small tortoises, The pads that I don't feed off that get large with spines are fed to the larger torts or planted to make new plants. I remove the spines with a small torch or by scraping with a knife.Most people don't like the cactus with spines but if you grow enough you will have plenty of young pads that can be fed off before they get spines and they can be grown in areas with very cold wet winters.After the plant is rooted it grows at quite a good rate. Len ---email me if you would like some of what I have, the only cost is shipping, the plants or pads are free.
 

SILVERSTAR

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I grow three dif kinds inside,its pretty hardy stuff,i live in cali and i can drive down the street and see cactus all over even in unoccupied lots where i pulled over and hacked of pads with fruit on em,and i got on variety from the hardware store of all places,JUS BE PATIENT when growing it bcuz i thought it was jus kinda dead but eventually sprouts will pop out even if it takes a while,my tort love fresh sprout from all three varietys.
 

jensgotfaith

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SILVERSTAR said:
I grow three dif kinds inside,its pretty hardy stuff,i live in cali and i can drive down the street and see cactus all over even in unoccupied lots where i pulled over and hacked of pads with fruit on em,and i got on variety from the hardware store of all places,JUS BE PATIENT when growing it bcuz i thought it was jus kinda dead but eventually sprouts will pop out even if it takes a while,my tort love fresh sprout from all three varietys.

Whereabouts did you find that unoccupied lot with them?
 

SILVERSTAR

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well the big pads variety had a whole mini jungle of trees in a lot on el camino where a building had burnt up and it was abandoned for a good four months it may be back in use now but still its not like they care,its not really even on there property its on a fence line on both sides but man its everywhere,i could even give you a brown paper bag full of the flat variety which is perfect bcuz it grows succulent little shutes out that my star is in love with,thats the route id go bcuz im still waitn for the big pad variety to sprout it takes forever,propogation is easy-you let the cut end dry completly at room temp inside the bag then plant and dont water hardly at all,mine started rooting super quick,i could get a whole brown bag of pads and meet at chevron if you really are in need.....

ITS GOOD TO HAVE AS MANY VARIETYS AS POSSIBLE IF YOU ASK ME THEY ALL MAKE SLIGHTY DIF FRUIT AND FLOWERS RIGHT? PM ME IF ANYONE NEEDS THE FLAT VARIETY AND THEY ARE IN SAC [email protected]
 

dmmj

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I have about a dozen different type of cacti, various sizes, and they are the easiest to grow once you know what you are doing, I have even had them grow into the rocks I had on one side of my house, right thru the rocks new buds and everything. Of course CT is a little different than CA, wait a week or two for the car to form on the bottom and then plant, they should grow no problem. I can't comment on the cold since in CA we don' really get that much cold weather, this year not withstanding.

also don't over water new plants that is one way to kill a cactus.
 

RV's mom

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we planted some 4 or 5 pads - growth is exponential. There is a lot of trimming that goes on. Older pads have an inner structure of tough fiber threads. I cut these across the fibers for easier consumption. the little pain-in-the-arse stickers I burn off with a blow torch, more for my ease of handling than RV's eating: I'm told it doesn't bother them. I prefer to feed as safe a food as possible. younger pads are tender and RV is rather piggy in eating these. I'm glad we have the pads up where she can't reach............. that way we'll always have food for her.

DSCN1532.jpg
 

Jessicap

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How tall and wide do these catus get? Are you able to keep them pruned to a managabel indoor size? You also mention cold weather harder - to what temp? I live in Wisconsin.
 

Cre8ruckas

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CtTortoise said:
I'm planning on buying some cactus pads for my leopard tortoise. From what I see, I can pot one of the pads and grow my own. I admit I have a history of having a black thumb. I'm hoping to turn this around and begin to grow as much as I can for my tort. (Not just cactus, but I thought it might be a start.)

My question is: what is the technique for planting the opuntia pad?

What time of year, temperature, is a good time to start?

How much can I expect one pad to yield?

How quickly do they grow?

What is the best way to remove thorns? Is thorn removal necessary for a 3 year old leopard?


Thanks in advance for any advice.

Rob



is this what your looking for?>>>

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000TJ5X68/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
 

Tom

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1. Let the fresh cut end scar over for at least a couple of weeks. I waited 3-4 months before with no problem. Then get some cactus mix from the store and don't add any water. Bury the bottom of your scarred over pad 1/2 to 1/3 deep, standing upright, and put it somewhere in the sun. Do not water it for at least one month. In the hot summer sun, watering every week or two is enough for most people, once the pad is established.

2. If you are doing it indoors any time of year is good. Outdoors, I do it anytime that the ground is dry. Basically just not in the rainy season, like right now.

3. The yield varies wildly depending on a whole lot of factors. Some pads take off like wildfire and others just sit there and do nothing for a while, even though they are sitting side by side, planted identically, in the same dirt, at the same time.

4. See #3.

5. If you grow the "spineless" variety, there are no thorns, only tiny little hair like spines called glocchids. They are pretty irritating if you get them in your hands, so I handle my pads with thick rubber gloves. They don't seem to bother the torts though. I usually rub the spines off with my thick rubber gloves under running water, but you can also singe the glocchids off with some fire.
 

Robert

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If I am keeping cut pads to feed my tort should they be stored in the fridge or out in the open?

How long does a cut pad last before it goes bad?

Thanks again everyone. Really good stuff.

CtTortoise said:
If I am keeping cut pads to feed my tort should they be stored in the fridge or out in the open?

How long does a cut pad last before it goes bad?

Thanks again everyone. Really good stuff.

Is there any portion of the cactus which cannot be fed to my tort?

(my biggest concern about growing my own food for her is that I am accidentally going to feed her something that is bad for her!)
 

russianhenry

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We have cactus everywhere here in San Antonio, actually going out to get some right now.
 

SILVERSTAR

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and yes i keep mine indoor jessicap,but if you want them to really do some growing better get a light or a window may never produce enuff cactus to feed a tort.
 

Tom

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CtTortoise said:
If I am keeping cut pads to feed my tort should they be stored in the fridge or out in the open?

How long does a cut pad last before it goes bad?

Thanks again everyone. Really good stuff.

CtTortoise said:
If I am keeping cut pads to feed my tort should they be stored in the fridge or out in the open?

How long does a cut pad last before it goes bad?

Thanks again everyone. Really good stuff.

Is there any portion of the cactus which cannot be fed to my tort?

(my biggest concern about growing my own food for her is that I am accidentally going to feed her something that is bad for her!)



You don't need to refrigerate it, but you can. I've had pads sitting outside for months on end and then fed them out or planted them. Even in the 100+ degree summers here. When they go bad, they either shrivel up or turn black and rot. You will know for sure if it happens. There are are really only the pads and the fruits, as far as "parts" go. The pads down near the base of a large plant are very tough and fibrous, but not toxic. Most people feed out the new pads up top and the fruits when they happen to show up. There is no part of the entire cactus that would be bad for them.
 

jensgotfaith

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sharkstar said:
we planted some 4 or 5 pads - growth is exponential. There is a lot of trimming that goes on. Older pads have an inner structure of tough fiber threads. I cut these across the fibers for easier consumption. the little pain-in-the-arse stickers I burn off with a blow torch, more for my ease of handling than RV's eating: I'm told it doesn't bother them. I prefer to feed as safe a food as possible. younger pads are tender and RV is rather piggy in eating these. I'm glad we have the pads up where she can't reach............. that way we'll always have food for her.

DSCN1532.jpg

Holy cow- how old are those? They look great!
 

RV's mom

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jensgotfaith said:
sharkstar said:
we planted some 4 or 5 pads - growth is exponential. There is a lot of trimming that goes on. Older pads have an inner structure of tough fiber threads. I cut these across the fibers for easier consumption. the little pain-in-the-arse stickers I burn off with a blow torch, more for my ease of handling than RV's eating: I'm told it doesn't bother them. I prefer to feed as safe a food as possible. younger pads are tender and RV is rather piggy in eating these. I'm glad we have the pads up where she can't reach............. that way we'll always have food for her.

DSCN1532.jpg

Holy cow- how old are those? They look great!


I'm guessing 8 years old. Each pad segment translates out to a year (they have new growth each year) RV is only 10 and we bought them from theresa c at turtle cafe.... what seems a long time ago. We need to trim them up as they will toss of pads in every which way direction, and if they get too much water, they get top heavy and splinter and fall. No problem, as we just trim off the pads and either just leave them at the base of the cactus for 'storage' (and they seem to last just forever), or feed them to RV.

teri
 

cueboy007

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What type of cactus is this? They have a trunk at base? Do all opuntia grow into a trunk?
 

Yvonne G

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Yes. That original pad that you plant will eventually thicken and form a "trunk" to support the rest of the plant as it gets bigger.
 

Jessicap

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Yvonne G

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That looks like Opuntia Santa Margarita. It has some pretty nasty spines, but it is edible. Its a lower growing shrub-type plant than the one that Sharkstar is growing. Also, it has a blue/grey color to the pad rather than green. Its a very pretty opuntia. I have one in my collecition.
 
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