Waterwise Botanicals Opuntia Care Guide

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I may be a "Cac-tee" but water me! I like water, but just make sure the soil gets dry in between. Hold off during cold months.

 

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Plant me outside - except for hard-freeze months. Scoop hole just deep enough to set, or lean-in, and leave me there! Don't tuck soil in, but leave an air-gap. I will start growing roots right in the air, down in the soil space! 

 


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Plant me in the winter - I don't mind the cold, but may not get on with a lot of wetness. Put me in a pot just deep enough to lean, or stay in place, leaving air-gap around base. Keep me in a patio or overhang with good light, but remaining fairly dry, and I will explode with roots when the warmth comes!

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Why do I wrinkle? Why do I blush? Because I am COLD HARDY. I have to empty myself of unnecessary water before winter - or when it freezes, I would EXPLODE! So don't try to water me back up when it's cold. I can be very beautiful with purple tints and coloration in winter. This is because my pigments gather as I expel water. Sometimes it's the whole paddle, sometimes purple polka-dots!

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Porcupines and Paddle Cactus

So pretty...

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...it hurts!

Different than all other cacti, the opuntia family has barbed thorns that make them difficult to pull out.

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Aereoles - little fuzzy (dot) tissue where all glochids, thorns, flowerbuds and new growth arise.

Glochids are tiny little bristles that detach easily and irritate your skin. Tweezers are good! Some opuntias appear to have no thorns, but all have some glochids...(another unique opuntia characteristic.)

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Simple kitchen tongs are the best tool! Heavy rubberized gloves - yes! (Most leather gloves will not stop thorns and glochids.) Use twisted newspaper or a piece of garden hose to handle larger plants.

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