Prickly pear is one of the most interesting cacti you can grow in a pot. It pleases the eye with its unusual appearance. Spiny flat leaves are decorated with yellow flowers along the edges. Consider how to grow a plant at home.
Opuntia microdasys, or prickly pear is an unusual, very interesting plant. Its distinguishing feature is that it looks like a small bush, consisting of several flat stems. The plant tends to create top growths, so the stems look like a collection of numerous elements. It grows to about 40-60 cm in height. Individual elements of the stem reach a length of 6-15 cm and a width of 4-12 cm. This species has no spines, but there are numerous white or yellow (2-3 mm long) so-called glochids, collected in dense groups. Glochids are a special form of spines - very fragile hairy spines. They end in a sharp hook that quickly and painfully adheres to the skin, causing erythema and redness. small spikedifficult to remove.
Prickly pear (pictured) blooms with large, very beautiful, yellow flowers that appear at the top of its stems. Sometimes they tend to be much larger than a particular stem element.
The fruits of the plant are edible and are used in the food industry. Their characteristic sweet and slightly sour taste is a great addition to desserts, they can be added to salads or eaten just like that, previously peeled. However, it is difficult to obtain fruits at home. Small and red fruits appear at the top of the tallest elements of the stems.
Chemical composition and toxicity
The plant is a source of vitamins A, C, E, B 1, B 6, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and fiber. It includes sugars (glucose, galactose, arabinose, xylose, rhamnose), organic acids (tartaric acid, oxalic acid, succinic acid), flavonoids (quercetin, kaempferol), lactones, terpenes (for example, lupenone), alkaloids (mesculin, hordenine, tyramine) and betalans (betacantin, betajanin). Flowers and stems of the plant are used to make medicinal ointments and cosmetics. Decoctions of them help in the treatment of diseases of the liver and circulatory system.
Prickly pear preparations are well tolerated and non-toxic. The only adverse symptoms that have been noted after consumption are nausea, increased stool volume and frequency, mild diarrhea, and headache.
The cactus family represents more than 2000 species of plants. This great family also has prickly pear, numbering about 150 species. The vast majority of these plants originate from the Americas, with some being cultivated for their delicious fruits.
Many of them are huge. Popular varieties suitable for indoor growing, other than prickly pear, are:
- Prickly pear Berger is a tall succulent with a bright green stem. Egg-shaped leaves reach a length of up to 25 cm. Rare areoles are equipped with yellow long spines. Blooms profusely with orange-yellow bells.
- Prickly pear is a creeping cactus, consisting of small light green lobes up to 4 cm long. The surface of the plant is densely covered with thin, short needles. The flowers are wide open orange bells.
- Prickly pear is a low erect succulent with highly branched stems. It is characterized by a rounded rather than flattened shape of the lobes. The length of each share is only 2-3 cm. The plant is covered with very short whitish spines. Flowers - light yellow.
Microdasys Opuntia - growing requirements
Prickly pear needs the same conditions as most cacti. First of all - the plant does not like shade. It should stand in a clear place where it will receive the largest dose of sunlight. Perfect during the seasonthe temperature for it is 21-35 degrees Celsius.
Prickly pear should be provided with a suitable substrate. It can grow in standard potted flower soil, but will still do much better in specialized cactus soil. A small layer of drainage should be laid out at the bottom of the pots.
Prickly pear - home care
The plant does not need special care. The only thing you need to remember in caring for it is watering. Prickly pear is tolerant of temporary dryness of the substrate. She does not like excess moisture, because then she can begin to rot. It is best to water the flower when the substrate in the pot is already dry. Excess water left in the pot holder should be removed. In winter, watering is limited to the required minimum.
During the growing season, you can feed the plant every 2 weeks with cactus fertilizer at a dose less than half the recommended on the package. Thanks to this, the plant will develop better. Fertilizer can stimulate faster flowering of the plant. Feeding should be stopped one month before the scheduled rest period.
The plant is transplanted only when its roots fill the entire pot. The procedure is carried out in late spring. The succulent is transplanted into a pot larger than the previous one. The land for growing a plant should be like for cacti, that is, poor and airy - based on peat and sand. Proper drainage and bottom holes are very importantcontainer for draining excess water. When transplanting to the bottom of the container, you can place broken pieces of a ceramic pot, stones or coarse gravel.
When transplanting plants, be careful of spikes that can cause inflammation of the epidermis. All work must be done with gloves or cover the plant with hard paper.
In the case of prickly pear cactus, it is important to observe the temperature regime. If you do not provide the necessary conditions for the plant, it will most likely die next year. Gradually, the flower is preparing for the winter period - for this, the temperature is slowly reduced below 18 degrees Celsius. It's not difficult - the plant can stand in a cool bedroom or in an unheated hallway.
During wintering, prickly pear should not be fertilized. It should not be watered too often, on the contrary - at this time you should limit watering even more. In the spring, it is necessary to gradually increase the temperature in the room, and around March, move the flower to a permanent place. If the plant successfully survived the winter period, you will see its intensive growth and further flowering.
Prickly pear - reproduction
The best way to reproduce a plant is cutting it into separate parts that take root very quickly. The element intended for propagation is separated from the plant, the cut site is cleaned of milky juice and treated with crushed activated carbon and air-dried for 3-4 days. Then the cutting is placed (not muchdeepening) into a permeable and constantly moist substrate. In the future, the seedlings are kept in a bright place at a temperature of +20 ° C under the film. 2-3 weeks after they sprout roots, they can be transplanted into pots.
Now you know what care you need at home for prickly pear.