Growing opuntia cactus

SGT Fish

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So I had ordered a couple large pads from tortoisesupply.com and they were nice, but all the opuntia/prickly pear pads seem pretty pricey to feed to them all the time. I wanted something more sustainable. I was in Florida last week and figured it'd be a good time to get a plant. After passing up stealing some from a garden or the natural dunes, I found a large one at a garden center for 45 bucks that they sold me for 25 cuz it was marked wrong. It's pretty big and I'm kinda wondering if I should cut some of it and start a second plant. And how much I can safely cut off to feed frank. I'm even thinkino of starting a smaller pad in the dragon cage behind the plant. It has a desert uvb light and gets lots of sun. Any suggestions or opinions?
 

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ZEROPILOT

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You can cut off a pad and jam it into the ground 1/3 of the way deep and it will grow or you can place a pad partially submerged in an open jar of water and wait for roots to come out. Either way, it's hard NOTto grow it. It honestly is easier to grow it than to kill it.
You can cut off a section of a pad to feed it to your tortoise and it wont kill the whole pad, usually.
 

dmmj

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it's very easy to grow you have to try really really really really hard to kill it I mean really hard.
 

Careym13

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I've planted 3 of the pads I got from tortoisesupply and they have all taken root (in pots due to where I live). You could plant a couple that you ordered then wait for them to grow and you'll have your own supply of pads.
 

Yvonne G

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...or you can just lay a pad on top of moistened earth and wait. After a while roots will grow where the pad touches the eart.
 

Tom

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It's pretty big and I'm kinda wondering if I should cut some of it and start a second plant. And how much I can safely cut off to feed frank. I'm even thinkino of starting a smaller pad in the dragon cage behind the plant. It has a desert uvb light and gets lots of sun. Any suggestions or opinions?

I usually feed out the pads growing at the upper reaches of each "branch". I usually plant the pads closest to the base.

In your case I would feed out those three upper pads, plant the three lower pads, and leave the big base pad right where it is. I'd get some cactus potting soil and replant that big base pad in a much bigger pot too. This will give you four pots producing pads. Put them somewhere very sunny.

To replant:
1. Cut off a pad from the main plant.
2. Set the pad somewhere with very good ventilation, but not in direct sunlight, and let the freshly cut portion scar over for about two weeks. Outdoors works best for this and it doesn't matter if its hot as long as its not in direct sun.
3. Get your pots ready with dry cactus potting soil.
4. Stick each pad about 1/3 to 1/2 way into the dry cactus soil, in a vertical orientation, and then walk away.
5. Do not water for one month. Watering early will result in the pad rotting where it touches the ground.
6. After a month, when you do water, do so lightly. It does not need to be kept wet like a normal house plant. In hot summer weather, I water about once a week. I don't water them over winter at all. Let the soil dry out between waterings.


Out here we have this stuff growing feral all over the place. You can just stop on the side of the road and grab as much as you want. I have about 40 stands of 10 different varieties growing in several areas of my ranch. All summer long I chop off 5 gallon bucketfuls several times a week and still I have more than I can use. I cannot believe they wanted to charge you $45, or even $25 for that little plant. Once it gets established with new roots it will pop out new pads regularly. I just cut and cut and cut and more just keep on coming.
 

Turtulas-Len

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I don't think the plant you brought home from Florida will survive an Ohio winter outside. If you want some to grow planted in the ground that will survive your winters, I can send you some rooted plants and pads for the cost of shipping using a USPS ship anywhere box, they run around $13 or $17, depending on the box size. I grow way more opuntia than I can use.
 

AnimalLady

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Hell, I have a cactus plant that I wish would tone it down a bit. My father, sweet old man that he is... tried to trim it up and give it a shape, he threw all the pads that he cut over to the vacant lot next to us...needless to say, he created a huge big cactus monster plant. ugh.

I have seen pads just casually sitting on the ground growing sprouts. You can cut a few off and stick them in dirt a bit and just watch it grow!
 

Tom

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Next time you come to Florida stop by any nursery. They run between $5-$10 for an established and large plant in a plastic pot.

He got the one in this thread in FL and they wanted $45 for it, but he talked them down to $25.

Crazy, huh? So its not like this all over FL?
 

AnimalLady

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He got the one in this thread in FL and they wanted $45 for it, but he talked them down to $25.

Crazy, huh? So its not like this all over FL?

It is crazy, I'm in Miami, and Ed is right on. $5-$15 huge plants. For most people in my neighborhood, they consider the cactus a burden!
 

SGT Fish

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yea, i could have had it free but i wasnt sure how abundant it was in florida, i know how it is out west and may get some from my aunt in new mexico when she comes back to town or if i make another trip out there. I saw some on the beach dunes that i could have cut or pulled. i thought the price was high too but considering what people want for pads shipped to your house, i paid about what i would have paid for just pads. It was marked 15 bucks on one side and 45 on the other. when she said 45 i was like no thanks.

i know it this one wont grow outside. i will keep it in my kitchen this winter and then maybe a greenhouse after this year. My neighbor has some kind of similar cactus that grows close to the ground in his garden. possibly the cold hardy opuntia ive heard about? it has lots of the small and big spikes(ask me how i know) so i may plant some of that if it will survive the snow and freezing temps. I already fed my sulcata one of the top pads from my plant and he loved it, Im pretty glad cuz he didnt really care for the pieces i gave him before
 

Tom

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Most tortoises take a while to get used to new and unfamiliar foods. Many sulcatas have never even seen opuntia.

Glad your guy decided to try it. Soon it will be a favorite.
 

Prairie Mom

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So I had ordered a couple large pads from tortoisesupply.com and they were nice, but all the opuntia/prickly pear pads seem pretty pricey to feed to them all the time. I wanted something more sustainable. I was in Florida last week and figured it'd be a good time to get a plant. After passing up stealing some from a garden or the natural dunes, I found a large one at a garden center for 45 bucks that they sold me for 25 cuz it was marked wrong. It's pretty big and I'm kinda wondering if I should cut some of it and start a second plant. And how much I can safely cut off to feed frank. I'm even thinkino of starting a smaller pad in the dragon cage behind the plant. It has a desert uvb light and gets lots of sun. Any suggestions or opinions?
If yours keep doing well inside, I want to try this too!
 

SGT Fish

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ill update as i get progress. i just got a few flourescent light fictures out of the scrap bin at work (government waste and all haha) so im gonna get some bulbs and set up a little grow operations. i plan to replant the bigger pads in more pots like Tom suggested. frank seemed unsure about it at first but when i checked on him in the morning there was barely a trace of the pad left
 
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