One of the most popular types of homegrown, you can safely call prickly Pear. This is a very large family, which has more than 300! Different kind. Of course, about all not going to tell, but about the most often encountered homes to mention is worth.
Cactus is very attractive for its unusual shape of stems that look like “ears”. And although the birthplace of the plant is America, prickly Pear feels quite good in almost every corner of the world. In addition, if your region winters are not too harsh, and the thermometer does not fall below 10 degrees below zero, the cactus can be planted even in the open ground in the garden or, for example, in a flower bed.
In addition, in this article you will learn how to properly care for Prickly Pear, what are its useful properties, the sick cactus and how to multiply, and most importantly – what kinds of the most popular for cultivation. Let’s get started!
Prickly pear is not only a cactus but also a very useful plant. It contains a huge amount of useful elements and vitamins. For example, stems contain amino acids, protein, starch and more. From the vitamin group, it can be noted the presence of vitamins A, B(1,2,3) and C.
Not only the stems contain a lot of useful things, but also the fruits of Prickly Pear. They are tasty, juicy and rich in phosphorus, magnesium, protein, and calcium, as well as glucose.
Thanks to all this, from Prickly Pear, produce many drugs that help fight different diseases, such as disorders of the Central nervous system, cardiovascular disease, diabetes. In addition, with the help of Prickly pear, people who are the successful struggle with excess weight, skin diseases, rheumatism, etc.
In addition to drugs, from prickly Pear make glue, oil (something like sunflower or olive), detergents and cleaners, as well as various cosmetics, which by the way, is not so cheap.
Opuntia Microdasys plants usually grow up to 50 cm Form the cactus the traditional, and the stems have a slightly dark green color. Against this background, very good look Golden thorns. The flowers are usually medium in size and have a bright yellow color.
Bunny ears cactus
Prickly pear garden Its name, this type was due to the fact that it can be safely planted outdoors, without fear of winter frosts. Cactus is able to tolerate temperatures up to minus 30-35 degrees but under a good layer of snow. If your region winters are not snowy but frosty, it is desirable to cover the plant with a film.
Also, this type is known as — Prickly pear. The plant grows quite high. The shape of the stems is typical for Prickly Pear. The plant blooms profusely and then leaves a lot of tasty and juicy fruits, a little pear and strawberry flavor.
Also quite a popular view, which has a slightly different shape. Stems are more elongated, light green with long spines. Blooms quite strongly. The flowers themselves are medium in size, red.
The most remarkable feature of this species is its long hairs (spines) of white color. The plant is quite densely dotted with them from here and the name went – white-haired. Cactus blooms small, bright yellow flowers that exude a very pleasant smell, and after flowering, you can eat delicious fruits.
This type is often called the classic and believes that it went from all the others. Plants grow up to 4-5 meters in height, but it is in the natural habitat. At home, it is difficult to achieve such results. Stems are the green, standard form, with a small number of thorns. Cactus blooms large yellow flowers.
This species has the most atypical form among the cacti presented here. The stem is long a little fat, grow up. In the future, the cactus grows quite strongly. Flowers in subulata small pale pink, and during flowering they are quite a lot.
Another type, which greatly expands, forming a whole Bush. Unlike subulata, the form of the cactus is traditional for Prickly Pear. Stems are often dotted with thorns and have a light green color. During flowering, the plant emits a lot of flowers of medium size, which can be of different colors – from bright pink to red.
Gosselin also growing and forms clumps. It blooms with bright yellow flowers, large sizes, which smell very nice. Depending on the variety, the stems can be of two colors – green and bluish. In fact, there are no blue cacti, it’s all about the plaque that forms on the surface. It has a characteristic color, which only gives a more exotic look to the cactus.
The cactus loves the light, especially when it a lot. The best option would be a window sill, located in the South or South-East. It is also worth noting that just under the sun cactus is better not to put, so it is not burned. To the bright sun, it should be taught gradually.
As for the winter period, the additional lighting is not necessary, the plant is perfect without it.
Watering the plant should be warm water, you can even be boiled, but it is not necessary. In the warmer months, the cactus should be watered often, not allowing the ground to dry out. Usually once a week i.e. 4 times in a month. However, if the street is very hot, and the soil dries quickly enough, the plant should be watered every 5-6 days.
In winter and at rest, watering should be minimal. Usually 1 time per month, maximum 2. The water is warm, 20-30 degrees, but its amount should be 3-5 tablespoons.
Summer also will not be superfluous spraying from a spray gun.
As for the temperature, the prickly Pear feels very well at a temperature of 25-35 heat. If we talk about the winter, at this time it is better to remove the cactus to where the temperature will be 8-12 degrees. Also, the development is positively affected by temperature changes, as in natural conditions this happens quite often.
Humidity does not matter, prickly Pear very well tolerates both high and low humidity.
In most cases, the cactus grows very well in normal soil intended for cacti, but this is more true of plants under the age of five. For more “grown-up” cacti, it is recommended to use land with a high content of sand and clay. Also, a plus will be the addition of compost and a little ash. Peat is better not to use.
And do not forget about crushed stone or crushed brick chips, which should be mixed with the ground.
Feeding should be performed during active growth – it is usually spring. But fertilizers can be applied from the beginning of spring to the beginning of autumn. The best option will be fertilizers containing calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, but nitrogen should be a minimum amount, as it adversely affects the development of the cactus, and sometimes even leads to the death of the plant. Feeding should be done once a week or 10 days, not more often.
But from fertilization during rest, it is better to refuse, because at this time the plant is better not to disturb, and you can only harm.
The process of transplantation is simple, and it should be carried out every 2-3 years, because during this time the soil wears out and it needs to be replaced, and in the old earth, the cactus will not grow.
For transplantation you will need:
- Drainage (expanded clay, crushed stone, crushed brick).
In a new pot, at the bottom of the drainage layer, is poured, 3-4 cm thick. Then, the top layer of soil is poured. The soil can be used ready, if the plant is not yet 5 years old, or prepare the mixture yourself. To do this in proportions 1:1:1:1:1:2, mix earth, sand, clay, crushed brick, ash, and compost. Be sure to mix everything well.
So, now we should remove the cactus from the old pot. To do this, gently turn the plant and knock on the bottom of the pot. Once you do, shake off the root system from the old ground and check the roots themselves. Rotten should be removed, otherwise, they can cause the development of diseases in the future. After this, place cactus in a new pot and fill his soil, but not until the end of – 1-2 centimeters leave.
That’s basically all. After transplantation, it will be possible to perform watering with warm water.
Period of rest
From the end of October to the end of February, the Prickly Pear, like many other cacti, comes a period of rest. At this time, try not to touch or disturb the plant. Watering should be minimal, it is written above. In any case, do not turn, do not move and do not tolerate the plant, as during this period it is very sensitive and in case of the slightest stress, it will adversely affect the flowering.
If we talk about the flowering of the cactus, it occurs in the spring. Usually, this time falls on mayor even June, but it happens less often. The first flowers appear only on the third, and sometimes even in the fifth year, so do not be nervous once again, if your “Eeyore” has not blossomed.
However, some even after this period, the flowers do not appear and then they begin to look for information about how you can make the plant bloom. The Answer Is “Nothing.” The only way to make your pet flourish is to follow all the rules of caring for him. If the plant does not bloom – then you are doing something wrong.
If you suddenly want to multiply prickly Pear, you can do it in two ways:
This method is not too popular, because it is quite problematic. Not all seeds germinate, and sometimes even so that none at all. We have previously written about how to grow cacti from seeds, so, the principle is exactly the same, but there is one difference. In prickly Pear seeds, there is a fairly dense shell, so they should first be rubbed on a file or sandpaper, and then soaked in potassium permanganate.
And then everything as usual. In the greenhouse, the earth is poured, there are holes and seeds are planted. After that, you need to wait for germination. The first transplant is performed in 3 months. More details are written in our separate article.
The most preferred method, which is much more effective than the previous one. There is nothing complicated in cuttings. First of all, take a well-sharpened knife and choose any healthy process on the stem. Then, it should be cut, and then placed in an upright position in a place where he could dry a little. Usually – it is 3-4 days until the cut-off will not appear film.
Further, the dried stalk should be planted in a container with wet sand, to a depth of 5-6 cm. The container itself must be covered with cling film and periodically allowed to ventilate, as well as sometimes watered. As soon as the seedling has roots, it should be transplanted. How to do this, you can read above.
Diseases and pests
Like any other cactus, Prickly Pear is also prone to various diseases and pests. But before we begin the story of diseases and pests, it is worth noting that most diseases appear with the help of the owners themselves.
This is all due to improper care, too frequent or Vice versa insufficient watering, lack of feeding or transplantation, and much more. Cactus though unpretentious plant, but still, need to take care of him as befits.
The most common pests of Prickly Pear are nematodes, mealybug, aphids, and spider mites. Consider how you can deal with them and how to detect them.
Basically, nematodes attack the roots, so you can see them only when transplanting plants and then not always. The roots should be carefully and thoroughly examined, and if you notice them compaction or something like an outgrowth – it’s nematodes. To deal with them easily, for this damaged roots are cut slightly above the growths, and then, the root system should be placed in hot water (50-55 degrees) for 10-15 minutes.
Next, the roots should be dried and planted in new soil.
Mealybug is easy to detect – it is white and leaves behind a white plaque. To get rid of it, use alcohol to remove all traces of it and treat the pest itself. It is important, from the RAID should not remain a trace.
Then, spray the cactus with a soap solution and leave so for 10 minutes, and then rinse with warm water. If there are too many insects, then use a special drug.
Spider mite and aphid
These pests are also worth fighting immediately. To do this, the plant should be sprayed with a special drug, in two stages. The break between the stages should be from 7 to 10 days, no more.
If we talk about diseases, the Prickly Pear is exposed to diseases of various fungi and rot.
Basically, the appearance of fungi is associated with frequent watering and incorrectly selected fertilizers, namely with high nitrogen content. If you suddenly notice the appearance of brown or brown spots, lethargy of stems, their curvature or rotting small areas – this is all due to the appearance of rot and nitrogen saturation.
To combat these diseases, as a rule, cut off the damaged areas of the stems, sprinkled with ash, and then treated with a special drug. Also, for greater efficiency, especially if the plant is oversaturated with moisture, the cactus is transplanted into a new pot with new soil, and the first watering is carried out not earlier than 3-4 days.
But there is one disease from which the plant can not be saved – it is dry rot. It so happened that the first symptoms of the disease appear too late when the plant is already beginning to slowly dry up. The only thing that can be done is to multiply the cactus with the help of cuttings, so as not to lose it at all.