Opuntia cylindrica f. crestata
Opuntia cylindrica is native to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The crested form has garden origin.
Opuntia cylindrica f. crestata is a common shrubby cactus belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant has an erect and clumps forming habit and can reach up to 4 m in height. The roots are fibrous, taproot and deep, specialized to store water. The stem segments, called cladodes, are bright green, round to obovate, flattened and thick. In the crested form, the stem grows in the shape of a fan or wave and usually branches off from the base, taking on highly sought-after sculptural forms. The cladodes in the crested form are fused together and are unrecognizable. The areoles are woolly whitish and bear glochids. The glochids are short spines, barbered at the tip, extremely hurtful and a characteristic, only of the subfamily, Opuntioideae, of the family Cactaceae. In the normal form the blooming occurs from the late spring to the early summer and the blossoms are borne at the apex of the cladodes, but the crested form doesn’t bloom. The flowers are bell-shaped and brick red to orange in color. The fruits are globular berries, fleshy and green-yellow coloured.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but prefers partial shade during the summer. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The maximum resistance to cold is 3 °C so it is recommended not to expose the plant to lower temperatures. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. The soil should be a well-draining and porous soil, so you can use a standard cactus soil or a mix of fertile soil and sand. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. Irrigation is proportional to the size of the pot, the position and the season. In Spring and Autumn the plant can be watered with a glass of water every 7-10 days; in summer it can be watered every 3-5 days. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant is used to growing in poor soils, for this reason it does not need abundant fertilization, it is sufficient to fertilize once in spring and once in summer. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
The plant can be propagated exclusively by cuttings of offsets. By cutting you can use the offsets during the spring. Cut an offset and then let it dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. It is advisable to use rooting hormone at the base of the cut to energize root development. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C.
Opuntia was named after “Opunte”, the capital of Locride region in ancient Greece.
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