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Family of cactus. Opuntia represent a whole subfamily of Opuntia. Some of its representatives are not at all the same as it is usually customary to represent prickly pears, but, nevertheless, there are general signs by which prickly pear, no matter how it looks, can always be distinguished. First of all, this is the presence of the smallest thorns (glochidia), which not everyone can notice yet, but he will feel well when the palms, after contact, violently begin to prick and itch.
Glochidia easily fly off the cactus and, most likely, have a protective function in nature. Some people, precisely because of the presence of glochidia in representatives of the genus of prickly pears, cannot keep them at home.
In terms of the convenience of maintenance and ease of cultivation, it is best for growing in an apartment White-spiny prickly pear - its glochidia do not crumble when touched, and this is not unimportant.
Unfortunately, most representatives of the genus of prickly pears are not very suitable for growing at home. Firstly, due to the fact that they grow to a huge size, and secondly, because of their small decorative appeal. Many prickly pears never bloom in apartments, since they may bloom when they grow to certain limits, which is not realistic in apartments. Therefore, when choosing prickly pear, it is better to give preference to small species. Be careful if you have children - they can touch a clinging cactus, and you will take out the splinters for a long time while crying loudly. Glochidia easily dig into the skin, and it can be very difficult to remove them, and it also hurts.
Types of prickly pears
- Opuntia cylindrical Opuntia cilindrica - it is not always recognized as a prickly pear, wondering what kind of plant it is. It has cylindrical stems, at first single, then branching with age. It grows rapidly and reaches 1.5 - 1.8 m in height. It blooms with wide pink flowers.
- Red-red prickly pear Opuntia rufida - its stems are covered with bunches of rusty-red glochidia.
- Opuntia clad Opuntia vestita - with a cylindrical stem covered with fluffy hairs. It blooms with small red flowers.
- Opuntia small-haired Opuntia microdasys - its articulated stems are covered with bundles of hooked light glochidia. It blooms with large yellow flowers. Variety White prickly pear Opuntia microdasys albinospina - white glochidia that do not crumble from touch. This prickly pear easily blooms in the house with yellow flowers. In addition, the small size of this cactus makes it easy to keep it in the apartment.
- Opuntia dark prickly Opuntia phaeacantha - its oval flat, jointed stems are covered with brownish-yellow glochidia, and long thin spines.
Opuntia monacantha fma monstrosa
Opuntia microdasys var. albata
Temperature: Normal in summer. In winter, a period of rest is ideally needed. In nature, it passes dry at a temperature of 7-10 ° C, at least 5 ° C, if possible, adhere to the same regime. If you have a glazed balcony, then prickly pears can be left there up to the maximum temperature (+ 2 ° C), well wrapped up the roots and in complete dryness, if the balcony is insulated, cacti may well hibernate until the end of January, and then start a new growth on the windowsill in home.
By the way: staying in the fresh air around the clock throughout the summer period, especially hardens and strengthens cacti, increases resistance to diseases and pests.
Lighting: Opuntia love a lot of light, but you need to get used to the spring sun gradually. Without sufficient lighting, the plants stretch out and lose their decorative appeal. The stems lean towards the light, they even roll the pot on its side.
Watering: Moderately in spring and summer, only after the soil is completely dry, after a few days. From autumn or even in summer, with a cold snap, watering is reduced, very rare, up to a slight wrinkling. In winter, depending on the temperature.
Fertilization: Only during the growing season with a special fertilizer for cacti, according to the scheme: in full dosage once every two weeks or in half weekly.
Air humidity: Opuntia are resistant to dry air. But spraying it regularly with warm water from a very fine spray bottle won't hurt on hot summer days. In natural conditions, there is often morning dew, but contact with water when spraying or watering leads to the formation of salt deposits and plugging of the cactus stem.
Transfer: Soil - 1 part of sod land, 1 part of leaf, 1 part of fine gravel, you can Akadama or brick chips. For adult cacti and old ones, the sod soil is 2 parts. Young plants are transplanted annually or in a year, old ones in a year or two.
When transplanting prickly pears, you need to be careful, as their rudimentary leaves, as well as individual segments of the stem, can break off.
Important: old plants with large long shoots need to be fixed very firmly in the pot. You can take a wide clay pot, or a plastic one with a wide bottom (not narrowed at the bottom) and put a large river stone on the bottom instead of drainage. The stems can be tied with a nylon thread or decorative tape to a bamboo support.
Reproduction: Seeds and cuttings (separate segments). For more information about the features of various modes of maintenance, transplantation and reproduction, see the section Cacti.
The disadvantage of growing large prickly pears is not only that they need a lot of space, but rather that it is difficult to provide a large cactus with sufficient sunlight, especially in winter.