Spineless Opuntia--which variety, where to buy, best way to grow?

Jenna524

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I want to start growing some spineless opuntia for my Sulcata Tortoise. Any suggestions on which variety of opuntia to buy? Where are the best places to get it? And is it best in a pot or in the ground? Any other ideas?
Thanks!
 

NorCal tortoise guy

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Any verity works though I try to find the thornless ones. It grows all over the place around our neck of the woods start looking for it and you will start to notice it all around you. The best pads to start growing are the older ones that have a little time on them not to soft new pads though you can grow those as well. You might try asking the owners of a plant if you can take a few pads or just grab some from a plant growing on the side of a road that happens a lot in farm country. Also you can buy it at Hispanic grocery stores though they sell the young soft ones. It grows in pots or the ground. I would use a very big pot if you want to go that way. When you get your pads let the cut ends scab over then stick them in the ground. I like to water them when planting. Then you can more or less forget about them and they will grow. I try to water once a week or so after they get established.
 

Jenna524

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Any verity works though I try to find the thornless ones. It grows all over the place around our neck of the woods start looking for it and you will start to notice it all around you. The best pads to start growing are the older ones that have a little time on them not to soft new pads though you can grow those as well. You might try asking the owners of a plant if you can take a few pads or just grab some from a plant growing on the side of a road that happens a lot in farm country. Also you can buy it at Hispanic grocery stores though they sell the young soft ones. It grows in pots or the ground. I would use a very big pot if you want to go that way. When you get your pads let the cut ends scab over then stick them in the ground. I like to water them when planting. Then you can more or less forget about them and they will grow. I try to water once a week or so after they get established.
Thank you! This is good info. I'm excited to get started!
 

Maro2Bear

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Greetings. Yep, @NorCal tortoise guy nailed it pretty much. The only thing I do differently is i don’t water right away after planting. I usually wait a few weeks (or a thunderstorm) and then give a good watering. Let the pads go once planted and once you start seeing new growth you can start watering.

Here are two planters I started last year from a bunch of pads courtesy of Mr Ray in Florida @Ray--Opo . They have done well. We are just now warming up for Summer...so, they will take off growing again.

531E3EA2-B830-4DBE-943E-5679E504DECD.jpeg
 

Jenna524

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Greetings. Yep, @NorCal tortoise guy nailed it pretty much. The only thing I do differently is i don’t water right away after planting. I usually wait a few weeks (or a thunderstorm) and then give a good watering. Let the pads go once planted and once you start seeing new growth you can start watering.

Here are two planters I started last year from a bunch of pads courtesy of Mr Ray in Florida @Ray--Opo . They have done well. We are just now warming up for Summer...so, they will take off growing again.

View attachment 324102
This looks great! I’m thinking about starting in pots. Do you know what size pots you have? Also, have you already been using your cactus to feed the tortoise? How many pots like this do you think I would need to maintain feeding for one adult Sulcata?
 

Maro2Bear

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This looks great! I’m thinking about starting in pots. Do you know what size pots you have? Also, have you already been using your cactus to feed the tortoise? How many pots like this do you think I would need to maintain feeding for one adult Sulcata?

Those are about 12-14 inch pots or so. Yes....been breaking off new tender pads on some and feeding. You will see some chomp bites out of some. Our Sully knocked them over late last year & spent a good deal of time snacking on fresh pads. You can see that you can plant many pads in one container, doesnt have to be 1 for 1.

How much room do you have in your garden? If i lived where it doesnt freeze like CA I would plant a fence row full.

We also have a Mexican market close by. Cheap pads, i think $.99 per pound.

How many pots? Hard to say...just get started....
 

Tom

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Thank you! This is good info. I'm excited to get started!
Plant them somewhere in full hot sun. Avoid any shade or cover. I don't like to water them for a month after planting, bu then I water once or twice a week in summer. I make a basin at the base of each pad. I trickle water into the basin and fill it once or twice a week in the hot summer months.

There are many varieties. NorCal's advice of finding varieties that are already established and growing in your area will ensure success.
 

Ray--Opo

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Greetings. Yep, @NorCal tortoise guy nailed it pretty much. The only thing I do differently is i don’t water right away after planting. I usually wait a few weeks (or a thunderstorm) and then give a good watering. Let the pads go once planted and once you start seeing new growth you can start watering.

Here are two planters I started last year from a bunch of pads courtesy of Mr Ray in Florida @Ray--Opo . They have done well. We are just now warming up for Summer...so, they will take off growing again.

View attachment 324102
Looking great!
 

Jenna524

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Any verity works though I try to find the thornless ones. It grows all over the place around our neck of the woods start looking for it and you will start to notice it all around you. The best pads to start growing are the older ones that have a little time on them not to soft new pads though you can grow those as well. You might try asking the owners of a plant if you can take a few pads or just grab some from a plant growing on the side of a road that happens a lot in farm country. Also you can buy it at Hispanic grocery stores though they sell the young soft ones. It grows in pots or the ground. I would use a very big pot if you want to go that way. When you get your pads let the cut ends scab over then stick them in the ground. I like to water them when planting. Then you can more or less forget about them and they will grow. I try to water once a week or so after they get established.
 

Jenna524

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I went out and got some cactus pads at our local grocery store. I'm hoping that they will work. I plan to go out and find someone willing to let me cut some from their growing cactus, but that may not be right away. I'd be interested in seeing how the two different types grow. Do you think the scab over the cut from the store bought leaf is sufficient? Or should I re-cut the end, and let it scab over again? What do you think?
 

Jenna524

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Also, while the store-bought cactus leaf doesn't have huge spikes, it does have the hairy, silvery thread-like thorn. Is this normal for the spineless cactus?
 

jaizei

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I went out and got some cactus pads at our local grocery store. I'm hoping that they will work. I plan to go out and find someone willing to let me cut some from their growing cactus, but that may not be right away. I'd be interested in seeing how the two different types grow. Do you think the scab over the cut from the store bought leaf is sufficient? Or should I re-cut the end, and let it scab over again? What do you think?
Also, while the store-bought cactus leaf doesn't have huge spikes, it does have the hairy, silvery thread-like thorn. Is this normal for the spineless cactus?


The store bought cactus being 'scabbed' already means you can plant it sooner. Its normal for there to be some of the smaller hair like spines, there are very few completely spineless cactus.

If you can, try to get thicker pads; thinner pads may take some time thickening up before you see any new growth.
 

Jenna524

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The store bought cactus being 'scabbed' already means you can plant it sooner. Its normal for there to be some of the smaller hair like spines, there are very few completely spineless cactus.

If you can, try to get thicker pads; thinner pads may take some time thickening up before you see any new growth.
That’s good to know. I’ll try to be patient then, since these cactus leaves are semi-thin. Thanks for the advice!
 

Maro2Bear

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I went out and got some cactus pads at our local grocery store. I'm hoping that they will work. I plan to go out and find someone willing to let me cut some from their growing cactus, but that may not be right away. I'd be interested in seeing how the two different types grow. Do you think the scab over the cut from the store bought leaf is sufficient? Or should I re-cut the end, and let it scab over again? What do you think?

No reason to recut at all. A scab is a scab. Those from the store can be planted up today. I would suggest placing your pots outside (of course) but not in direct hot sunshine. Place in a bright, but not sunny area. Once planted, wait a week or two - water. Wait & you should see growth. Then water regularly to encourage growth.
 

Jenna524

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So I've had the grocery store bought cactus planted in the pot for about a week. And the darker cactus pads are from a kind neighbor who let me take some cuttings from their cactus--after letting them callous for almost a week, I planted the darker ones yesterday. I have tried to keep them both in the sun, and minimal watering (I've read that I shouldn't water for the first month). But I'm worried that keeping them dry and hot is killing them! Any advice on how to start these up better than I have done so far. Today I moved them to a spot with less direct sun. (The previous spot had a good 6 hours of direct hot sun). Should I water them more? Are they already too sunburned to live? Any advice on saving them is appreciated.
 

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Ray--Opo

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Mine where started from pads at the store and friends donation. These are about 4 years old. This section did great, the other section right along the same fence line has hardly grown. I have horrible sandy fill dirt. The only thing I can figure why the other section is not doing well. Is because it is about 5' away from a septic field run. I never water, just what mother nature gives. So far my theory is not to fertile dirt is the answer. 20210413_113939.jpg
 

Ray--Opo

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Mine where started from pads at the store and friends donation. These are about 4 years old. This section did great, the other section right along the same fence line has hardly grown. I have horrible sandy fill dirt. The only thing I can figure why the other section is not doing well. Is because it is about 5' away from a septic field run. I never water, just what mother nature gives. So far my theory is not to fertile dirt is the answer. View attachment 324650
Also the cactus don't get the morning sun but once the sun gets above the roof line. They are in the sun all day.
I really think they like sandy soil opposed to nice black dirt you get at the store. Just my thought.😁
 

Ray--Opo

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Here is the other section planted at the same time. Now that Opo is getting bigger they probably won't get a chance to grow. He keeps eating the new growth. 20210508_144052.jpg
 
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