Growing Opuntia (Prickly Pear)

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t_mclellan

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Ok people, Its spring & some of you will be planting tasty things for your tortoises & some of you might even have the audacity to plant things just to look at!

Anyway, A while back I threatened to do a post on growing Opuntia or Prickly Pear Cactus from cuttings. This is How I do it. This will work with most cactus & succulents.

This is a cactus that grows in my neighbors yard.
As you can see they get big! This is 25+ years old & gets cut back every 2 years.

100_1489.jpg


Last fall it was trimmed & I took a small pickup truck load of cuttings that I am still feeding & giving away to this day.
Here are a few pads that I left on the ground just to see how they did. As you can see,
Mature 1 to 2 year old pads, Cut & just placed on the ground grow quite well.

100_2175.jpg


Yes those blooms are on cuttings laid there last fall!

When you take a cutting you need some special tools. Here is a photo of the multitude of gardening gizmo's you will need.

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Here it gets tricky! You need to put a glove on at least 1 of your hands & then pick up the scissors. When using the 1 glove method make absolutely sure that you hold the scissors in your OTHER hand!

Back to business here;
The first thing to do is locate the pad or pads you want to use for cuttings.
After that, Put your glove(s) on & grab the scissors.
Make the cut at the point where 1 pad grows off of another.

100_2196.jpg


Place the cuttings off the ground for a day or until the cut forms a callous.
This helps prevent the pad from rotting when placed in the soil.

100_2204.jpg


At this point there are many options. OK, Ok! So there are 2 good ones!

1) To "PLANT" your cutting in the yard. They do not need "CACTUS" soil.
Find a suitable location & make a small hole.
Place the cutting CALLOUS DOWN into the hole about 1/3 to 1/2 of the total length of the pad & gently press the dirt back around the cutting.

100_2205.jpg


I know, There wasn't a shovel in the "Gardening Gizmo" section!

100_2206.jpg


If you choose to plant in a pot, Find the largest pot / planter that you feel comfortable moving (Cuz you WILL!), Then put dirt in it & follow the steps above.

2) My favorite (apparently) Take the cutting(s) of your choice, Find a suitable location & throw them on the ground. Then walk away! The finished product looks a bit anticlimactic, But it works GREAT!

100_2210.jpg


This is what happens when you leave the cuttings on the ground for a few months.

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Both rooted examples have been trimmed for shipping.

Follow these simple instructions & then trim once a year or 2 years, Ignore it the rest of the time & in 20 some years you will have something like my neighbor's or bigger.

I hope this helps those of you who might have questions.

I DO NOT SELL OPUNTIA PAD's!
Seed trades are welcome, But it takes a lot of seeds!

If you need pads talk to Spikethebeast.
He usually has them.
If not 5lb.+of Chicory seed would get my attention!
Have a great summer & may your tortoises never need dentures!
 

jackrat

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The throw it on the ground method has always worked for me.Thats how I got my spineless started about 20 years ago.I chopped a bunch of it down a few years back and hauled it off and now there is a huge patch of it where I dumped it.
 

Cameron

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awesome info! what about winter? i live in Oklahoma and we have hot summers and cold winters. will they be ok planted outside during the winter or will i need to use a pot and bring them in?
 

dmmj

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I'm confused.
 

Itort

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Red Earth Exotics said:
awesome info! what about winter? i live in Oklahoma and we have hot summers and cold winters. will they be ok planted outside during the winter or will i need to use a pot and bring them in?
The prickly pear that shown here is Opuntia ficus-indicus which is a warm climate cactus. If planted outside in OK it would not survive the winter. The cactus that you would want to try is Opuntia humafusa or Opuntia polycantha. You may be able to collect and grow these from cactus found on farms and ranches (with landowners permission) in your area. This is how I got mine in Iowa and Minnesota. The culture is the same and torts relish them.
 

Candy

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I loved this thread. Thank you so much for posting so many play by play pictures and comments. It makes it almost blonde proof and that's what I need. :D
 

t_mclellan

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Thanks Itort;
I wondered when that question would come up.
With a little research anyone can find a variety of Opuntia that will grow where they live.
If you are lucky there will be a spineless variety suitable for you.
I grow 3 different spineless varieties here in South Florida.
The type in the photo's can grow as far north as central Georgia.
Another that is darker green & more slender growth. Will do the same.
The last 1 is originally from N.E. Arizona & very cold hardy! It is a slow grower down here. Although I did manage to get 1 cutting to grow in the garden. My climate is too wet in the summer & not cold enough in winter for this variety. Its a FIESTY cutting though!
I've posted this link in other threads but it might help most here.
Here are pert near all of the Opuntia varieties that exist. I suppose the saying "Something for everyone, ANYWHERE" could apply.

I doubt this is a complete list as it is kinda short!

http://www.desert-tropicals.com/Plants/Cactaceae/Opuntia.html
 

Jacqui

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:D About time you posted this! :D Thank you and it was wonderfully done. I think even I might be able to manage it now. :p
 

Cameron

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Itort said:
Red Earth Exotics said:
awesome info! what about winter? i live in Oklahoma and we have hot summers and cold winters. will they be ok planted outside during the winter or will i need to use a pot and bring them in?
The prickly pear that shown here is Opuntia ficus-indicus which is a warm climate cactus. If planted outside in OK it would not survive the winter. The cactus that you would want to try is Opuntia humafusa or Opuntia polycantha. You may be able to collect and grow these from cactus found on farms and ranches (with landowners permission) in your area. This is how I got mine in Iowa and Minnesota. The culture is the same and torts relish them.

Thanks, just what I needed! :D
 

t_mclellan

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Jacqui said:
:D About time you posted this! :D Thank you and it was wonderfully done. I think even I might be able to manage it now. :p

Jacqui; Did you catch the "Trimmed for shipping" comment?
That's right! These are heading your way!
There are some nice rooted sections & as many assorted pads as I can fit in the box.
Thanks for everything & I hope the kids enjoy the cactus!
 

Jacqui

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Those are mine?!! Thank you thank you! I have been so eager and excited to get my leaves, you would think it's a tortoise expected. :rolleyes: Then here ya go and even have some well started for me. Very unexpected and way beyond being nice. I was just given another Leopard on Easter and have been told he loves these leaves, so I better get a supply growing huh?

Jacqui

t_mclellan said:
Jacqui said:
:D About time you posted this! :D Thank you and it was wonderfully done. I think even I might be able to manage it now. :p

Jacqui; Did you catch the "Trimmed for shipping" comment?
That's right! These are heading your way!
There are some nice rooted sections & as many assorted pads as I can fit in the box.
Thanks for everything & I hope the kids enjoy the cactus!
 

t_mclellan

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So what your saying is; You need more, & I need a bigger box!
Anyway, I'm sending you 2 of the 3 types I have. The Arizona type I have I know is very cold tolerant but is slow growing!
It has only produced 1 pad in a year.
Try some of both in the ground & pots. See what happens.
Both of these will do well in Savanna Ga. No telling out where you are.

Type 1 very common.
100_2215.jpg


Type 2 Still common but not as common as type 1.
100_2214.jpg


Both of these were planted as cuttings last fall & have been trimmed several times.
They are 3' (type 1) & 4' (Type 2).
Type 1 has broad heavy pads & type 2 has more slender, Deep green pads.
 

Gus

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I was wondering why my dun grow Prickly Pear
 

t_mclellan

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Dmmj;
RE: Growing Opuntia (Prickly Pear)
"I'm confused."
?? About what??
Gus;
RE: Growing Opuntia (Prickly Pear)
"I was wondering why my dun grow Prickly Pear "

?????
 

Gus

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Sorry to confused you, what I mean is I have never see my Opuntia grow flower & Prickly Pear show in the picture.



t_mclellan said:
Dmmj;
RE: Growing Opuntia (Prickly Pear)
"I'm confused."
?? About what??
Gus;
RE: Growing Opuntia (Prickly Pear)
"I was wondering why my dun grow Prickly Pear "

?????
 

t_mclellan

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Hi Gus;
Your Opuntia is most likely just young or from cuttings that were not from a mature plant.
I have planted some cuttings that came from large plants that were not old enough to flower. Also cuttings that were new growth on flowering mature plants.

What I have seen with mine is:
1) If the original plant is immature, The cuttings will not flower until after the original starts flowering. Sometimes as long as 2 years after.
2) If the original plant is mature & flowers, Large cuttings of old & new growth, Several pads in length, will flower the first year.
3) Single pad cuttings from a mature flowering Opuntia rarely flower in the first year.
They will most often flower the second year.

Another thing, When trimming, Do not cut off all the new growth.
Mine seem to grow better when at least 1 new pad is allowed to continue on each arm of the cactus. I only cut all new growth on an arm if I just don't want the plant growing that way.

Be patient!

I hope this helps.
 

Gus

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Hi thanks at least now I know what happen :)

t_mclellan said:
Hi Gus;
Your Opuntia is most likely just young or from cuttings that were not from a mature plant.
I have planted some cuttings that came from large plants that were not old enough to flower. Also cuttings that were new growth on flowering mature plants.

What I have seen with mine is:
1) If the original plant is immature, The cuttings will not flower until after the original starts flowering. Sometimes as long as 2 years after.
2) If the original plant is mature & flowers, Large cuttings of old & new growth, Several pads in length, will flower the first year.
3) Single pad cuttings from a mature flowering Opuntia rarely flower in the first year.
They will most often flower the second year.

Another thing, When trimming, Do not cut off all the new growth.
Mine seem to grow better when at least 1 new pad is allowed to continue on each arm of the cactus. I only cut all new growth on an arm if I just don't want the plant growing that way.

Be patient!

I hope this helps.
 

Gus

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Hi t_mclellan

This morning I manage to get a large cutting of Mature Opuntia which have been flowering from a farmer hope that when time to come it will start flowering with Prickly Pear.
 

t_mclellan

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Gus said:
Hi t_mclellan

This morning I manage to get a large cutting of Mature Opuntia which have been flowering from a farmer hope that when time to come it will start flowering with Prickly Pear.

If your cutting is 2 or 3 pads long & has flowers / fruit on it now, It will most likely continue to produce this year!
 

Gus

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Yes it has it :p hooray

t_mclellan said:
Gus said:
Hi t_mclellan

This morning I manage to get a large cutting of Mature Opuntia which have been flowering from a farmer hope that when time to come it will start flowering with Prickly Pear.

If your cutting is 2 or 3 pads long & has flowers / fruit on it now, It will most likely continue to produce this year!
 
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