Opuntia (Opuntia) is the largest genus belonging to the Cactaceae family. This genus includes about 190 species. Under natural conditions, Opuntia can be found in South and North America, not excluding the West Indies. Approximately half of all species are found in Mexico.
Aztec legend has it that the Aztec's main city, Tenochtitlan, was founded on the very spot where an eagle ate a snake while sitting on an opuntia.
On the coat of arms of Mexico you can see this very scene. In some species of opuntia the stems and fruits were used as food by the Indians. This cactus was also cultivated for its coloring agent, carmine. However, there are its species that are very aggressive neophytes, to destroy such opuntia, use biological preparations. Opuntia is cultivated at home in all countries, even in Australia.
Brief description of cultivation
- Flowering. In room culture, opuntia blooms very rarely.
- Brightness. The bush needs plenty of bright sunlight in the morning, but should be diffused in the afternoon.
- Temperature regime.
In spring-summer period - normal room temperature is suitable for the plant, in winter time the room should not be warmer than 5-7 degrees.
- Pouring. In warm seasons moisten the substrate moderately, and in winter months if the bush is dormant, it is not watered at all. Water the shrub by lower method (through the pallet).
- Air humidity.
Good at any humidity.
- Fertilizer. Fertilize the plant once every 30 days in March-September, a mineral complex with a reduced nitrogen content is suitable. From October to the beginning of spring it is not necessary to feed the cactus.
- Dormant period.
With the onset of autumn, reduce watering, stop fertilizing the substrate, and put the bush away in a rather cold place (5 to 7 degrees), where it will stay until March.
- Transplanting. As long as the bush is young, it is transplanted every year, while older specimens are subjected to this procedure once every 3 or 4 years (not more often). Replanting is done in the spring before the growing season begins.
By segments, and very rarely by seed.
- Pests. Mealybugs, scabworms, spider mites, root nematodes and whiteflies.
- Diseases. Phytophthora, wet stink rot, root rot pythiosis and gray rot.
Astonishing opuntia blooms!!! Delicious cactus!!! How to grow at home?
Properties of opuntia
Cactus opuntia is an evergreen perennial. This genus is represented by climbing or erect shrubs as well as by trees with articulate, succulent, flat-shaped shoots. On their surface there are small and large prickles and also gathered in bundles delicate thin bristles of hook-like shape, which are called glochidia. Succulent small leaflets are shilovoid in shape. Oriental flowers grow singly and may be tinged orange, yellow or deep red.
The fruit is a berry covered with a dense seed coat. The fruits are edible.
Home care for opuntia
The opuntia is a light loving plant, and it requires a large amount of bright light daily at all times of the year for normal growth and development. If the cactus has stood in the shade, it needs to be gradually accustomed to direct sunlight.
At normal room temperature, the flower grows and develops normally throughout almost the entire year.
But in winter it is recommended to put it in a cooler place (5 to 7 degrees). Keeping the opuntia in a warm place during the winter will cause it to stretch out painfully hard.
Pouring the opuntia
In the spring and summer time, moisten the substrate in the pot moderately. This is because, like other succulent plants, opuntia plants react badly to excessive moisture. In winter, if the bush is dormant and in a cool place, then watering should be discontinued until spring.
Wet the soil mixture only after it has dried completely. Water the opuntia using the bottom watering method. Prepare soft water first: it is left to stand for at least 24 hours and then mixed with citric acid (a few grains of acid per 1 litre of water). Pour the water into a deep container and dip the pot with the opuntia in it.
In normal watering, when water is poured under the root, droplets of moisture can get on the stem of the flower.
This causes the pores to become clogged and the breathing of the tissues to become impaired, resulting in cork growths forming on the surface of the stem.
The plant is undemanding to the humidity of the air. It can grow and develop normally even in a room with very dry air. Therefore the shrub does not need extra humidification neither on hot summer days nor in winter when the room air is too dry with heating units running.
Punzia should be systematically fertilized only during the growing season (March-September).
A nitrogen-reduced mineral complex should be applied to the substrate no more than once every 30 days.
This succulent does not tolerate transplanting well. That is why adult bushes are transplanted quite rarely, about once every three or four years. It is done in the spring time before the vegetation period begins. If there are buds on the bush, the transplanting will have to be postponed until next year.
Young cacti not yet three years old are transplanted regularly once a year.
Since the root system of such a plant is very weak, a wide and low pot should be chosen for its planting. A suitable soil mixture should consist of clay, sand, sod and leaf soil (2:1:2:4). It is also recommended to add a small amount of crushed charcoal, claydite or small pieces of brick to the substrate. Please note that humus should not be added to the mixture.
If you want, you can simply buy ready-made soil mixture for cacti at a specialist store.
Transplanting opuntia is done by the method of transferring, trying to keep the ground lump intact. The transplanted bush must not be watered during the first 7 days.
70. Opuntia cactus.
Transplanting to a New Pot
Care for Opuntia during flowering
The house opuntia delights in its blossoms very rarely. Specialists still can't find an answer to why this is the case. One theory has it that this is because this cactus is a slow grower and another because it is impossible to recreate the conditions to which the opuntia is used to in nature indoors.
But sometimes buds are formed on the bush, nevertheless. And here it is important not to make any care mistakes that could make them fly off:
- Move the pot anywhere else and not even turn it;
- Repotting is forbidden;
- take care of your cactus as you would do before: water and fertilize according to the rules.
If even one of these points is neglected, the buds may drop off or they may become overgrown with vegetative shoots.
Care after flowering
After flowering, watering should be gradually reduced. Also, the bush is stopped feeding, and then it is moved to a cold room (5 to 7 degrees) where it will stay until spring arrives. At this time the cactus is not fed or watered.
Review of Garden Prickly Pear cactus, varieties with different flowering periods.
Opuntia growing in the home is easiest and fastest to propagate with cuttings. To do this, you will need to separate several segments from the adult shrub. They are left for 3-4 days in an upright position to dry. During this time, a strong film should appear in the place of the cut.
On rooting, cuttings are planted in moistened and disinfected sand in advance, and they should be sunk into the substrate for 30 mm.
From above, the cuttings are covered with a transparent cap (glass jar, cut plastic bottle, etc.). Provide systematic ventilation to the cuttings and moisten the sand if necessary. The optimum temperature for rooting is about 20 degrees, and you will need lower heating. When the cuttings are rooted, they are planted in individual small pots, using the same potting soil as for transplanting.
How to root the unpretentious fast-growing Opuntia (Opuntia) cactus? Propagation by cuttings
Growing from seed
Each opuntia seed is covered by a very dense, tough shell. So you have to scarify them to increase their germination: You have to "sand" them with a file or emery cloth to make them germinate. Scarification makes it easier for the seed to pass through the thick seed coat.
The prepared seed is dipped for 10 minutes in a solution of light pink potassium manganese. After that, it is sown into a pre-sterilized soil mixture, which includes river sand, crushed charcoal and leaf soil (2:1:2).
At the bottom of the container make sure to make a drainage layer of expanded clay.
Sowings top cover with glass or film, then put them in heat (about 20 degrees) and give them systematic airing. Remember to moisten the potting soil as soon as its surface has dried.
Grown-up seedlings should be unpacked into individual small pots, and then they are further cultivated for a couple of years. Choose a bright place, protected from direct sunlight, for the young cacti.
Once the bushes have grown up, plant them in an adult opuntia potting mix (see "Repotting").
Diseases and Pests of Opuntia
The indoor opuntia can have mealybugs, scabs, spider mites, nematodes and whiteflies. Adult whiteflies are not harmful to the plant, their larvae are dangerous. All these pests are suckers, which means they feed on the sap of the plant by sucking it out through small punctures.
To get rid of pests, the plant is treated with a solution of an acaricide such as Bancola, Actellic, Decis etc.
Before you start spraying the bush, you should protect the surface of the soil mixture from drips of the toxic chemical. The bush is sprayed again after 1-1.5 weeks.
The fact that the plant is infested with root nematodes is very difficult to understand. They can only be discovered during replanting: look closely at the roots; you can see bloats on their surface, which are formed as a result of nematode activity.
Take a very sharp knife and cut out the affected areas, taking a little of the healthy tissue. Then soak the root system for 10 minutes in very warm (45 to 50 degrees) water. Never get the root neck wet! Take the roots out of the water and wait until they are dry. Sprinkle crushed charcoal over the cut faces. Plant the flower in new disinfected potting soil.
This succulent plant is susceptible to diseases such as: phytophthora, wet stink guild, root rot and grey rot. All of these diseases are fungal. Pathogenic fungi may be present in the substrate, and their activation is observed under favorable conditions: systematic stagnation of moisture in the substrate or oversaturation of the soil mixture with nitrogen.
All diseased parts of the affected bush should be cut out, after which it should be treated with a solution of fungicide preparation, for example: Gamair, copper vitriol, Bordeaux liquid, Oxychoma, etc. Remember to keep safety in mind when working with pesticides.
Cactus opuntia / How to take care of cacti? / How to sprout opuntia?
Popuntia species photos and names
There are quite a few species and varieties of opuntia, with many of them being quite common in indoor culture. The ones that are most popular with florists will be described below.
Opuntia leucotricha (Opuntia leucotricha)
This tree-like cactus has stems consisting of segments, each of which reaches 10 to 20 centimeters in length. They have dense bristles on their surface as well as many yellow-colored glochidia. During flowering, flowers are formed on the bush, reaching about 80 mm across.
They are golden in color but their stigmas are green. The edible fruits have a pleasant smell.
Opuntia bergeriana (Opuntia bergeriana)
This perennial plant has a stem consisting of rich, pale green colored segments that reach 20 to 25 centimeters in length. The stems have few areoles, which are composed of prickles of varying size, which are either brownish-yellow or yellow in color. During flowering, numerous yellowish-orange flowers with green stigmas appear.
They abundantly cover the bush.
Opuntia major (Opuntia basilaris), or Opuntia major
This species is a bush-like cactus whose stems are very long and branching. They include pale red or greenish-blue segments, which are 8-20 centimeters long. The depressed light brown areoles have pubescence as well as few needles. Flowers can be colored in various shades from deep red to pink.
This plant has varieties: nana and cordata.
Opuntia gosseliniana (Opuntia gosseliniana)
This bush-like cactus eventually forms a not very large clump, which includes thin segments. These segments are colored pale red in young bushes and greenish gray in adults. The soft needles tend to grow from areoles located at the top of the bush. The color of the flowers is yellow.
There is a santa rita variety: the edges of the rounded segments have a blue tint, with a dark purple pattern around the areoles.
Opuntia longispina, or Opuntia longispina
This is a stalking, shrub-like perennial plant. Its stems consist of small, slightly flattened globular-shaped segments, 30 to 40 mm long, and they are gathered in chains.
This plant has brown areoles and glochidia that are red in color, as are the marginal needles. It also has a thin, long central spine.
The red or orange flowers are wide open.
Opuntia curassavica (Opuntia curassavica)
The shoots of this perennial bush-like plant are hanging and include greenish narrow segments that break off easily and are 20-50 mm long. The short-haired small areoles have light-colored needles.
Opuntia fragilis (Opuntia fragilis)
This bushy plant has shoots composed of easily broken-off segments, which are 20 to 30 mm long and are nearly flat or round. Small areoles are located 0.
8 to 1.2 cm apart. They have white pubescence, the glochidia are light yellow, and there are also 4 brownish-yellow needles about 30 mm long, which are placed crosswise. The yellowish flowers have green stigmas.
Opuntia microdasys (Opuntia microdasys)
The branched stem is about 0.
5 m long. It consists of small, rounded, dark green-shaped segments. Each areole is white with a large number of golden glochidia. The inside of the flowers is yellow-golden, the column being whitish in color.
Opuntia indica (Opuntia ficus-indica), or Indian ficus
The stems of this bush-like cactus are erect and with time they become woody, branching strongly in the upper part.
The shoots are composed of greenish-gray oval-shaped segments with a small number of areoles, decorated with light yellow glochidia that fall off easily, and white single needles. The color of the flowers is deep red. The pear-shaped fruits are edible and are green, pale red or yellow. The flesh is translucent white with a pleasant sweet taste and has large seeds.
Opuntia scheerii (Opuntia scheerii)
This cactus is characterized by strong branching.
The bluish-green segments reach 15-30 centimeters in length. The stems are ornamented with a large number of densely arranged areoles, which include glochidia of a brown shade, needle-like, not long (about 10 mm) prickles, and also shield-shaped hairs. The flowers are yellowish, and their pistil is green. As they fade, they change their color to salmon pink.
Opuntia compressa (Opuntia compressa)
The stalks are composed of rich green, round-shaped segments.
The plant may have no needles at all, or they are at the top of the stems. Opuntia: Planting (renewal)
Purposes of Opuntia
Purpose of Opuntia
A plant such as Opuntia has medicinal virtues in each of its parts. Its leaves and fruits contain the following beneficial components: glucose, phosphorus, protein, calcium and magnesium; the shoots: protein, vitamin C, starch and sugar; the flowers: valuable amino acids. This cactus also contains vitamins such as: B1, B2, B3, A and C. It also contains insoluble and soluble fiber.
Opunzia-based remedies are used in:
- respiratory diseases;
- sugar diabetes;
- diseases of the mouth and teeth;
- nervous system problems;
- musculoskeletal diseases;
- diseases of the digestive system;
- disorders of the metabolism in the body;
- diseases of the cardiovascular system;
It is also used as a restorative, to rid the body of toxins and detox, and for skin and hair care. This plant is used in the treatment of inflammation of the outer skin, cystitis, diarrhea, measles, obesity, prostatitis, rheumatism, various wounds, etc. It is used to make glue, food coloring, oil, pectin, detergents and deodorants. Oil prepared from edible opuntia has in its composition a large amount of fatty acids, vitamin E and other valuable components that combat premature aging of the skin.
This oil is used in high-priced facial creams, scalp and curls care, aromatherapy as well.
A small number of people have an individual intolerance to opuntia. It causes reddish spots on the body, headache, vomiting and nausea during the first 30 minutes after taking this opuntia-based remedy. Stop taking opuntia as soon as these symptoms appear.
The plant itself and the preparations made from it should not be taken for acute cystitis and hemorrhoids.
As opuntia is an exotic herb, you should consult a qualified specialist before trying its fruits or any preparations made from it.
CACTUS OPUNTS! edible fruits and healthful properties! КАК СОБИРАТЬ!