Prickly Pear Cactus Propagation

rearlpettway

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Prickly Pear Cactus Propagation ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1408669337.928882.jpg ImageUploadedByTortoise Forum1408669354.638601.jpg

From a very old cactus, cut a pad that is at least six months old, the older the pad the faster you will get new pads, flowers and fruit. Allow the cut part of the the pad to form a callous. This will take a week or two in warm weather but longer when the air is moist. Be sure to allow more time rather than less, to avoid rot. Sit the pad upright while it forms callous so that it will not curl.
When planting the pad, settle it upright only about an inch deep in a mixture of equal parts of soil and sand. We have found that any soil that drains well works fine. Planting the pad too deeply will encourage rot. Water the pad. Let the soil dry between future waterings. Wait several months before beginning to harvest either pads or fruit, or future harvests will lessened. Generally, the second or third pad to form will bear flowers and fruit, but a pad from an older plant may flower and set fruit sooner than a section from a younger, immature pad.
Remember to plant the oldest pad that you can find. The pads from the grocery store are harvested for human consumption and are young and tender and aren't old enough.
If you prefer more flowers and fruits, give the plants a no-nitrogen fertilizer once a month, even through the winter. During this dormant period, the plants require a bright situation and enough water only to keep the pads from shriveling. The cactus will bloom and set fruit from early spring through the summer, depending on the variety. Each pad can support numerous flowers, each yielding one fruit. Up to 30 blooms have been counted on mature pads, but 8 to 16 is a good number to allow for development of good-sized fruits. The fruits are ripe enough to harvest when the glochids fall off. Twist, rather than pull, the fruit from the pad to avoid tearing it.
These pads were harvested from a plant that is over 30 years old.
These were planted in May 2014.


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DeanS

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Prickly Pear Cactus Propagation View attachment 92899 View attachment 92900

...give the plants a no-nitrogen fertilizer once a month, even through the winter...

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This is a BAD idea! Any fertilizer will damage the cacti...never mind the flowers and fruit! It's the pads that are important and your animals more so! If you fertilize monthly, there's no way to keep the chemicals out of the tortoise... it takes better than a month for the chemicals to work their way out of the plant...
 

rearlpettway

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This is a BAD idea! Any fertilizer will damage the cacti...never mind the flowers and fruit! It's the pads that are important and your animals more so! If you fertilize monthly, there's no way to keep the chemicals out of the tortoise... it takes better than a month for the chemicals to work their way out of the plant...

Ok, thanks.


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rearlpettway

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DeanS,
We don't allow our tortoise to eat the cactus pad from the plant. We wait 3 months after the last fertilization before we cut and feed a pad or fruit from the cactus. About 3 or 4 years ago I subjected cactus pad and fruit to mass spec. analysis and there was no significant harmful compounds found in the pad or fruit tissue.


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rearlpettway

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To clarify my last comment.
We subject the cactus pad and fruit to mass spec. 3 months after the last application of fertilizer.


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Yvonne G

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Just a note about fertilizer: Cacti are pretty sensitive and if you think the ground needs fertilizers, use at half or less dose than what the directions call for. And only fertilize when the cacti are actively growing.
 

rearlpettway

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DeanS Reminded of some thing that we did.
If you fertilize you need to wait 3 months after the last application of fertilizer before you feed the pads or fruit to your tortoise.


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Jabuticaba

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Fertilize with processed plant matter, some people call it tortoise poo. o_O To do it right you need at least one large tortoise though.
Haha. Thanks for the tip! I have 2 small torts. I use compost tea or fish tank water for my plants.


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Tom

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Rodney. I love this post but there is one thing I have to disagree with. I don't think newly planted pads should be watered right away. For me, even in my ridiculously super dry climate, this will cause them to rot. I wait one month after planting to water them and then I water once or twice a week in our hot dry summers and no water at all over winter for any outdoor cactus.

Your thread has given me two new things to try out though: 1. I always lay the pads flat to let the cut part "scar" over and sometimes they do curl. I am going to try keeping some upright to see if that help prevent curling. 2. I always plant the pads 1/3 to 1/2 in the ground. I've never tried only putting one inch in the ground and I'm curious to see how well that will work here for me.

Thank you for this informative thread and the new ideas. :)
 

turtlemanfla88

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Thank you all that is what great we all help each other and the tortoises reap the benefits. I raise some different types of Oputia Prickly Pear cactus and once a month in the spring and summer I used my kids rabbit manure it will not burn like other animal manures that you have to age before using. Grandpa turtle 144 thanks about coffee grounds.
 

Jabuticaba

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HA! I do that too! Got a 135 gallon tank in my entry way. :)
If you have South American fish species, they usually require low pH, which is ideal for cacti.


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