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Opuntia - failure to thrive

Posted by hexalm 8 (My Page) on
Mon, May 28, 12 at 16:32

Hi all, just looking for thoughts on this prickly pear I rooted from a pad a couple of years ago. This was one of my first plant successes (particularly from cuttings--although how can you go wrong with rooting Opuntia?), so I want it to be more successful.

Also while I'm at it, any idea what variety it is? Not sure I have a positive ID from the garden where I found the original pad (I swear it was just sitting in the walkway!). I found it at the U of Washington’s medicinal herb garden, and managed to go back yesterday, but was somewhat confused by the info I got there. The only actual Opuntia labeled was O. phaeacantha (tulip prickly pear), but the specimen by the label had pretty wicked-looking spikes, where mine has only tubercles (which fall off) and glochids.

Do young pads/plants just not grow spines? I couldn’t confirm this via googling, but I saw some suggestion that this was the case.

[O. phaeacantha:]

There were other plants there (confusingly, growing under a label for Wyethia) which look like they might be volunteers that were removed from the older-looking spiny plants, if they’re the same variety and if age and spininess are related.

[The other Opuntia plants:]

Anyway, the pad I found it rooted pretty quickly and the same year, put out the large pad you can see here (it came in slightly etiolated since it was in a north-facing window at the time, but has fleshed out since):

Last year I repotted into a gritty mix, and subsequently it put out only the tiny pad at the top, and that's the last thing it did. Seemed to have stopped prematurely during growth, though I don't think I changed anything drastically. I believe at the time, it was in medium brightness indirect light (between two southern windows).

After writing this post, it seems more obvious to me that it probably wants more sun, and more consistent watering (but of course, only when dry).

Any other thoughts?

Here is a link that might be useful: Full image page


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Opuntia - failure to thrive

Probably wants more water and more fertiliser, possibly more root space as well (easy with the gritty mix).

I put a bunch of succulents in gritty mix last year, treated them normally, and most of them did nothing. This year I've been throwing rainwater on them nearly every day and leaving them to stand in water, and they're growing marvellously. (In big pots, for the most part. The mix I use perches about a centimetre of water, so having a bunch of dead space between roots and pot bottom allows water to fall right out of the rootzone.)

The gritty mix I use is grittier than the recipe given here (it has one part perlite in it), but it's cool and humid in the UK and also the perlite lightens the pot a little.


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