Opuntia fulgida f. crested
O. fulgida is native to Arizona, Mexico Northeast and Mexico Northwest. The crested form has garden origin
O. fulgida is a tree-like succulent belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant develops a trunk from which form several branches and the shrub can reach up to 4 m tall. The branches are light green and covered with silver-yellow spines. Blooming occurs in summer and blossom are borne at the joint tips. The flowers are white and pink with purple strike and produce fleshy, spineless, pale green, edible fruit. The crested form usually grows in the shape of a fan, branches at the base and has smaller size. The stem is made of convoluted folds.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 3°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. 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. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done only by cutting, to not lose the mutation of the crested form. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting 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. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C.
Opuntia was named after “Opunte”, the capital of Locride region in ancient Greece. The crested form is a natural mutation that occurred in the O. fulgida population and that was selected and propagated vegetatively.
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