Opuntia microdasys cv. Contorta
Opuntia microdasys subvar. albiflora
Opuntia microdasys var. albispina
Opuntia microdasys var. laevior
Opuntia microdasys var. minor
Opuntia microdasys f. minor
O. microdasys is native to Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southwest where the plant grows in sandy to loamy calcareous soils and can spread up to 2100 m of altitude.
O. microdasys is a rare succulent belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant develops a trunk from which form several branches and the shrub can reach up to 1 m tall. The plant has a creeping habit and sometime an erect habit. The stem segments are flat, oblong, light green and spineless. The areoles are many, large, round covered with numerous yellow bristles-like glochids. these bristles are extremely sharp and dangerous. Blooming occurs in late spring to early summer and blossom are borne at the joint tips. The flowers are, cup-shaped, yellow with red hues and produce fleshy, spineless, dark red, fruit. This 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 by cutting or by seed. 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. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
Opuntia was named after “Opunte”, the capital of Locride region in ancient Greece.
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