Spineless Opuntia growth inquiry

queen koopa

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Hey fellow tortoise peeps and cactus growers. I planted spineless opuntia April 2019. 2 in pots, 1 in the ground. The ground planted pad grew 1 additional pad within a couple months of planting, the 2 in pots as well, but one of the plantings grew 2 pads. Since then there has been no difference in the pads, they just purpled a bit until early March. All have the same sun exposure. Wondering what type of soil others plant these cactus in and what the rate growth is like? 😀
 

Zoeclare

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I'm interested to know this as well I planted one in a pot last year and haven't seen any growth at all, wondering if it's because the conditions aren't right here ( in the uk) maybe I should put it outside even though its chilly?
 

jaizei

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I use compost, coir/peat, and vermiculite/perlite to make a soilless mix. Sometimes when there is no noticeable growth, the pads are 'thickening' for subsequent growth.
 

Relic

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Hey fellow tortoise peeps and cactus growers. I planted spineless opuntia April 2019. 2 in pots, 1 in the ground. The ground planted pad grew 1 additional pad within a couple months of planting, the 2 in pots as well, but one of the plantings grew 2 pads. Since then there has been no difference in the pads, they just purpled a bit until early March. All have the same sun exposure. Wondering what type of soil others plant these cactus in and what the rate growth is like? 😀
I've got it growing all over the place - in pots, in the ground, and even loose pads stacked up waiting to be potted. It usually grows new pads in the spring, and that's usually the time of year I snap off some of the tender new pads and try and coax my tortoise into eating them, usually to no avail. It's a slow growing plant, but once it finally gets large, instead of 3 or 4 new pads each spring, you will have 30 or 40 new pads per plant. All of mine came from a single pad collected (stolen) from a monster specimen at a hotel across the street from Disneyland back in 1993.
 

Tom

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Hey fellow tortoise peeps and cactus growers. I planted spineless opuntia April 2019. 2 in pots, 1 in the ground. The ground planted pad grew 1 additional pad within a couple months of planting, the 2 in pots as well, but one of the plantings grew 2 pads. Since then there has been no difference in the pads, they just purpled a bit until early March. All have the same sun exposure. Wondering what type of soil others plant these cactus in and what the rate growth is like? 😀
I grow about 40 stands of 12 different types of opuntia. I'll share what I've learned.

  • In the past, I've taken 6 pads from the same parent plant, handled them all the same and panted them in the same dirt 3 feet apart in a row. Two will take off and explode with new growth, three will grow moderately and produce some tortoise food, and one will rot.
  • I've tried pots, planters, the ground, cactus soil in a bag, regular soil, potting soil, sandy dirt, native dirt, home made "cactus soil', vermiculite mixes, and also just dropping a pad flat on the ground somewhere. All of these worked most of the time and all of these failed a small percentage of the time. My take away from it all is this: Plant a bunch of them. Some will take off and do great, and some won't. You may never know why.
  • I see a higher rate of failure if the pads are watered earlier than about a month after planting. Leave them dry for a while, and then water them based on the weather. I water two or three times a week in our scorching hot summers. I don't water at all from about November through May or June.
  • They all go dormant in the fall and don't grow again until spring. This is why you've seen almost no growth. Tell me again in June what is going on. You should see a lot more activity. Cactus have a different method of growth and photosynthesis than other plants. Heat is needed for them to grow. This is why someone in the UK might have trouble. They need lots of sun and warm temperatures. Full sun from morning to dusk is best. A quick search turned up this explanation: https://cactuscare.com/photosynthesis/
  • Most varieties will attract cochineal bugs and "cactus bugs", and these cactus parasites can really slow production. Because I grow my cactus for tortoise food, and cactus have very shallow roots that suck up any moisture at the surface, I have not wanted to use any home remedies or insecticides to remove these problem bugs. No dish soap mixes, no alcohol, no flea spray, or anything else. I've also found no bug predators that will eat these bugs and survive on the cactus in our dry climates. What works for me is a weekly spraying to physically knock them off. This really works well if you keep after it. Get distracted or busy and skip a month or two, and their numbers are surprisingly high. Weekly removal with a "jet" type hose nozzle will keep their numbers very low. The cochineal bugs have a purple dye that will stain your skin and clothes. The cactus bugs have a strange, very strong, smell when you squish them. Its not entirely unpleasant, but its weird.
  • Planting new pads... This is what has worked best for me, and our climates are similar. I cut large pads that are at least a year or two old. I let the cut end scar over for two weeks. I find it best to lay the pads flat somewhere outdoors with shade and good ventilation during this scarring time. I've tried cutting, waiting a day or two, and planting, and more of them rotted this way. Two weeks or more seems to be the right amount of time for my area. I make a big basin and put the pad about one third to half way in the ground with the scarred end down in the middle of the basin. I leave it bone dry in the hot sun for a month. After a month, I water it depending on the season and the weather. More often in the hot summers with temps near or above 100 every day, and not at all in winter. To water I let a hose trickle into the basin until the basin is full. This isn't critical. You could also run a sprinkler in your cactus patch area, and this would work too. They WILL dry out, shrivel, and turn yellow if you don't water enough in summer, or if you let the bugs get out of control.
  • Beware of gophers! The little f***ers will tunnel in unseen, set up shop under your cactus and eat all the roots. If you kill the little bast**ds quickly, your cactus will grow new roots and recover just fine. I have to do this continually all year long. Makes great hawk or snake food. Look up the "Black Box" by the Victor company. Once you learn how to use it, nothing works better or more effectively. Ignore this advice at your cactus stand's peril! I've learned this lesson the hard way. Best to get rid of the gopher at the first sign of any mound anywhere on or near your property. Once they make a tunnel in to your cactus area, others will follow that path forever. Get them early, BEFORE they get anywhere near your cactus.
 

jaizei

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I grow about 40 stands of 12 different types of opuntia. I'll share what I've learned.

  • Most varieties will attract cochineal bugs and "cactus bugs", and these cactus parasites can really slow production. Because I grow my cactus for tortoise food, and cactus have very shallow roots that suck up any moisture at the surface, I have not wanted to use any home remedies or insecticides to remove these problem bugs. No dish soap mixes, no alcohol, no flea spray, or anything else. I've also found no bug predators that will eat these bugs and survive on the cactus in our dry climates. What works for me is a weekly spraying to physically knock them off. This really works well if you keep after it. Get distracted or busy and skip a month or two, and their numbers are surprisingly high. Weekly removal with a "jet" type hose nozzle will keep their numbers very low. The cochineal bugs have a purple dye that will stain your skin and clothes. The cactus bugs have a strange, very strong, smell when you squish them. Its not entirely unpleasant, but its weird.

Have you ever tried diatomaceous earth, applied with the wet method? Non toxic, applied wet minimizes inhalation risk. and eventually when it reaches the ground, I'd imagine the minerals in it would be beneficial if anything.
 

Tom

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Have you ever tried diatomaceous earth, applied with the wet method? Non toxic, applied wet minimizes inhalation risk. and eventually when it reaches the ground, I'd imagine the minerals in it would be beneficial if anything.
I have not. Have you? Does it work? I hate those damn bugs!!! I have some food grade DE sitting around. I tried it on the ants this summer. It did nothing.
 

queen koopa

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I grow about 40 stands of 12 different types of opuntia. I'll share what I've learned.

  • In the past, I've taken 6 pads from the same parent plant, handled them all the same and panted them in the same dirt 3 feet apart in a row. Two will take off and explode with new growth, three will grow moderately and produce some tortoise food, and one will rot.
  • I've tried pots, planters, the ground, cactus soil in a bag, regular soil, potting soil, sandy dirt, native dirt, home made "cactus soil', vermiculite mixes, and also just dropping a pad flat on the ground somewhere. All of these worked most of the time and all of these failed a small percentage of the time. My take away from it all is this: Plant a bunch of them. Some will take off and do great, and some won't. You may never know why.
  • I see a higher rate of failure if the pads are watered earlier than about a month after planting. Leave them dry for a while, and then water them based on the weather. I water two or three times a week in our scorching hot summers. I don't water at all from about November through May or June.
  • They all go dormant in the fall and don't grow again until spring. This is why you've seen almost no growth. Tell me again in June what is going on. You should see a lot more activity. Cactus have a different method of growth and photosynthesis than other plants. Heat is needed for them to grow. This is why someone in the UK might have trouble. They need lots of sun and warm temperatures. Full sun from morning to dusk is best. A quick search turned up this explanation: https://cactuscare.com/photosynthesis/
  • Most varieties will attract cochineal bugs and "cactus bugs", and these cactus parasites can really slow production. Because I grow my cactus for tortoise food, and cactus have very shallow roots that suck up any moisture at the surface, I have not wanted to use any home remedies or insecticides to remove these problem bugs. No dish soap mixes, no alcohol, no flea spray, or anything else. I've also found no bug predators that will eat these bugs and survive on the cactus in our dry climates. What works for me is a weekly spraying to physically knock them off. This really works well if you keep after it. Get distracted or busy and skip a month or two, and their numbers are surprisingly high. Weekly removal with a "jet" type hose nozzle will keep their numbers very low. The cochineal bugs have a purple dye that will stain your skin and clothes. The cactus bugs have a strange, very strong, smell when you squish them. Its not entirely unpleasant, but its weird.
  • Planting new pads... This is what has worked best for me, and our climates are similar. I cut large pads that are at least a year or two old. I let the cut end scar over for two weeks. I find it best to lay the pads flat somewhere outdoors with shade and good ventilation during this scarring time. I've tried cutting, waiting a day or two, and planting, and more of them rotted this way. Two weeks or more seems to be the right amount of time for my area. I make a big basin and put the pad about one third to half way in the ground with the scarred end down in the middle of the basin. I leave it bone dry in the hot sun for a month. After a month, I water it depending on the season and the weather. More often in the hot summers with temps near or above 100 every day, and not at all in winter. To water I let a hose trickle into the basin until the basin is full. This isn't critical. You could also run a sprinkler in your cactus patch area, and this would work too. They WILL dry out, shrivel, and turn yellow if you don't water enough in summer, or if you let the bugs get out of control.
  • Beware of gophers! The little f***ers will tunnel in unseen, set up shop under your cactus and eat all the roots. If you kill the little bast**ds quickly, your cactus will grow new roots and recover just fine. I have to do this continually all year long. Makes great hawk or snake food. Look up the "Black Box" by the Victor company. Once you learn how to use it, nothing works better or more effectively. Ignore this advice at your cactus stand's peril! I've learned this lesson the hard way. Best to get rid of the gopher at the first sign of any mound anywhere on or near your property. Once they make a tunnel in to your cactus area, others will follow that path forever. Get them early, BEFORE they get anywhere near your cactus.
This is great! Thanks so much. I don’t have gophers, my problems are rabbits. People in the neighborhood have their cactus growing outside their yard fences and I see the root damage. I have a lower population Of rabbits due to dogs, cats, and a pellet gun.... but they only eat my grass for now. I do have rats though. I live in a neighborhood that borders open desert, so they could be desert or some city rat. Bet they will cactus...... I would love to feed them to my snake but I feel they would be diseased.... you know any way to tell? I look into that black box.
 

queen koopa

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I have not. Have you? Does it work? I hate those damn bugs!!! I have some food grade DE sitting around. I tried it on the ants this summer. It did nothing.
Yeah ants just prance around in the stuff and no decrease in numbers in my experience. Been trying DE for squash bugs and caterpillars but I still have a huge problem with all in the summer. Squash bugs I started physically picking them off and throwing in a bucket with some soapy water in.
 

Tom

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This is great! Thanks so much. I don’t have gophers, my problems are rabbits. People in the neighborhood have their cactus growing outside their yard fences and I see the root damage. I have a lower population Of rabbits due to dogs, cats, and a pellet gun.... but they only eat my grass for now. I do have rats though. I live in a neighborhood that borders open desert, so they could be desert or some city rat. Bet they will cactus...... I would love to feed them to my snake but I feel they would be diseased.... you know any way to tell? I look into that black box.
We have rabbits too. They are only a problem for freshly planted and young cactus pads. I make circles of 24" tall chicken wire around newly planted pads and this easily keeps them out. They don't try too hard.

I don't think rats will mess with your cactus. They don't here. I wouldn't worry about disease with the rats. Your snake can't catch most mammal diseases and freezing will kill off anything. I wouldn't feed them out because of the potential for a neighbor to be using poison.
 

Tom

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Yeah ants just prance around in the stuff and no decrease in numbers in my experience. Been trying DE for squash bugs and caterpillars but I still have a huge problem with all in the summer. Squash bugs I started physically picking them off and throwing in a bucket with some soapy water in.
I made sure the ground and area was totally dry and I dumped the stuff right into and onto their holes. I watched for a week or two, and the ants just kept coming and going as usual. Walking right on it. Over time either the wind, foot traffic, or the ants moved it all out of the way and the white areas slowly dissipated, but no change in the ants behavior or population that I could see.
 

Turtulas-Len

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Like @Tom I grow different types of opuntia. If I did it like him what I grow wouldn't do as well as his because the types I grow are different than his. My soil is clay, sea shells, and rocks mostly and the types I grow do well in it along with the wet conditions we get throughout the year, winter and summer. Last fall I had a couple hatchling hermann tortoises to care for over winter when very little grows here. So to get small new growth cactus pads for them I put some mature pads in water and just set them on a kitchen counter. Picture 1 cactus 3 23 2020.jpg Picture cactus 2 3 23 2020.jpg They even root while in the water. Some cactus types grow quicker than others. I have killed many plants over the years trying different types of cactus just to see if they can survive our winters.
 

queen koopa

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Started this thread on March 23rd. We have had 2 rains since then (odd for us) and how I have new growth on all my cactus!!! Still going to make a cactus patch with Toms method. I’m excited.
 

queen koopa

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More rain! I am happy with my potted opuntia growth. Here they are at the beginning of April and then today. Got my large cactus bed started today as well.
8DDBCCE5-38D2-4102-9CEF-1C8BA4E6B206.jpeg 5E68C54E-5692-4BCD-ACC6-5BAC6E5B1887.jpeg F33C3D66-7B8E-4DD0-829E-2FB4B18E9F16.jpeg ECF77D93-A112-4CBF-8916-30FC30E23799.jpeg
 

queen koopa

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Another question, is there an opinion on when to pick off pads for planting? Should all or most of the glochids things fall off before picking the pad?
 

Relic

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Glochids are the spines that stick you and make you go find the tweezers your wife has forbidden you to use. Those little green thingys are actually the cactus leaves which only last a short time - the pads are the stem. I usually wait until the new pads have gotten fairly large - mid to late summer - before I snap them off and plant. But that's just me...
 

queen koopa

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Glochids are the spines that stick you and make you go find the tweezers your wife has forbidden you to use. Those little green thingys are actually the cactus leaves which only last a short time - the pads are the stem. I usually wait until the new pads have gotten fairly large - mid to late summer - before I snap them off and plant. But that's just me...
Oh thank you much. 👍🏼

So do you not put the tweezers back in their designated spot? 😂😂 funny your wife has forbidden you to use...
 

Tom

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Another question, is there an opinion on when to pick off pads for planting? Should all or most of the glochids things fall off before picking the pad?
I prefer to use pads that are at least one year old for planting. Two years or more is better. I bet you can find some around you. If not, I'll send you some large tough mature pads for planting if you like. Postage is around $25. No charge for the pads.
 

queen koopa

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I abandoned my plan to ask a person in my neighborhood because after several slow drives and walks by, Ive noticed not 1 weed in the front, back, or side yard. I think out here if there is no weeds in the yard ever then they use weed killer. I would definitely be down to pay the shipping! How do I go about this? Thank you!

I used to order them online from Amazon from a place in Texas, but my last order was altered by Amazon. Not sure where they came from but pads were the size of my palm! Psh! Quit ordering because I don’t know what I’m gonna get now.
 

Tom

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I abandoned my plan to ask a person in my neighborhood because after several slow drives and walks by, Ive noticed not 1 weed in the front, back, or side yard. I think out here if there is no weeds in the yard ever then they use weed killer. I would definitely be down to pay the shipping! How do I go about this? Thank you!

I used to order them online from Amazon from a place in Texas, but my last order was altered by Amazon. Not sure where they came from but pads were the size of my palm! Psh! Quit ordering because I don’t know what I’m gonna get now.
You can PayPal me or send a check. I use those big flat rate boxes and just stuff as many in there as I can. Takes 3-4 days to get to you. Send me your number in a private message and we can text. I'll just need a name and a shipping address.
 
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