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Thread: Starting Unknown Opuntia Pads

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    allegedhuman's Avatar
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    Starting Unknown Opuntia Pads

    I got a few pads of an unknown "Mexican cactus" from my dad's co-worker to grow. I thought I would try cutting one if the pad into smaller sections so that each segment would have a cut side and then a normal "sealed" edge of the pad with the plan to place the cut edge in the soil once the cut has dried and then hopefully get many more plants out of one pad. I plan to start some of the pads by just placing the pad in the soil w/o messing with it like recommended by my Dad ("just shove the end in the dirt and be done with it..."). Does this type of segmenting work with an Opuntia or would I just be mutilating a pad and get no more plants out of it than just letting it be? I figured it was worth a test since I have a few pads to play around with but if anyone else had previous experince or advice I would love to hear it. Thanks

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    agentrdy's Avatar
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    Yeah, it works to cut the pads up but just make sure they're fairly mature and not little shoots or anything. It's funny because Opuntia species are invasive in Australia for (partly) that very reason: apparently, mowing them down or trying to chop them apart only results in tons of little pieces, all of which can start to root. Also, I'm sure you know this already but spring-summer is the best time to try and root them. They shouldn't need a whole lot of care.

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    rco911's Avatar
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    ... ive even rooted a seed pod! Geez. Kinda hard to kill these things off. There is this huuuuge Opuntia growing at one of the adobes near or in Sonoma, CA. The adobe/mission let me collect 1 seed pod, and I was planning to dry it to get the seeds. Instead I wondered if it would root, and -- it did...!! Crazy...

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    allegedhuman's Avatar
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    Hah, that is pretty neat that even the seed pod rooted. Thanks for the advice everyone.

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    Captain Hamata's Avatar
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    I planted some Opuntia last fall in our yard. Just watch out for the needles- they're wicked painful. Despite wearing gloves I still managed to get some on my hands.
    Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say 'Hey man, I love you this many dollars worth. -Michael Scott, The Office

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    allegedhuman's Avatar
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    I agree with the gloves idea. Nice rawhide gloves and long sleeves are a must. I have some eastern prickly pear plants outdoors which don't *look* like they have needles but they sure do have some wicked little slivers that love to jump onto my pant legs and you never see them but you sure feel them. Now on these opuntia pads they have absolutely no needles on them right now. I though maybe they were de-needled before they gave them to me but my Dad said no...maybe they lost them for winter since indoors in Michigan is not exactly an ideal climate for them? Now since I have first posted the thread a few weeks ago the pads are forming little bud thingies at their tips...Maybe future flowers? And then on the pads they have white threads forming all over, I though spikes but they are flexible so maybe if they are spikes they have a while to go yet before they become evil. I agree that winter is not the ideal time to try to start cactus but based on there changes I am thinking these guys may doing all right.

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    Captain Hamata's Avatar
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    Here's my planting I did.



    I planted them last September or October. The picture was taken a few weeks ago and looks kind of drab with everything dormant. I'll be happy when the Opuntias fill out and flower. I saw a neat planting in someone's yard when I was driving around once.
    Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say 'Hey man, I love you this many dollars worth. -Michael Scott, The Office

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    agentrdy's Avatar
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    I'm also aiming to get my Opuntia to fill out--how fast do they grow? How many pads should each plant make a year and how long to flowering?

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