Question: Cure OPUNTIA

Hi, I have an opuntia plant (for photos see link below) that grows very tall, despite being planted in a rather small pot, with the risk that it will break due to the increasing weight of the upper part, compared to the stems. Do you have any idea why it is not 'spreading out' but moving higher and higher?

Also I would have to repot and on this occasion I wanted to ask if it is worth cutting a part of it and making cuttings, in order to avoid it breaking (possibly at what point do you recommend?).

In the photo you will see in particular marked with red circles all new shoots born in the last month. He never made flowers.

If you have any advice for me to improve the plant, they are welcome.





Answer: Cure OPUNTIA

Dear Claudio,

opuntias are cacti originating from the American continent, now widespread in most of the warm climate areas of the world, including the Mediterranean area; the opuntias have a very particular development, their stem is made up of articles, called cladodes, typically circular in shape in most species; cladodes in Sicily are also called blades, and have a rounded shape, contrary to what happens to the stems of most plants, which have a cylindrical shape. The fact that your opuntia has such a strange development, which is noticeable even at a first brief glance of the plant, is not a good sign, and indicates an evident etiolation. Etiolation is the phenomenon whereby a plant tends to develop with excessive space between the internodes. The cladodes of your opuntia first grow cylindrical, and then widen, to form the classic flattened and rounded blade. This type of event occurs due to the lack of light, so your plant is receiving an inadequate amount of direct sunlight, most likely because it is grown indoors and not outdoors; in addition to being elongated, the stems have a consistency that is not suitable for supporting the upper stems, and therefore the plant needs support to remain standing. Consider that your plant should ideally live in a sunny place, in the open ground in the garden; not having an outdoor space, or living in an area where the winter climate is very humid and very cold, it is possible to grow an opuntia in pot, but it would be better to keep it on the terrace; first of all because the light it can receive from a window is always scarce compared to what it would receive outside in full sun; in addition to this, the climate present in the house, always close to 20 ° C, even in the middle of winter, does not help your plant, which certainly likes the succession of the seasons. So be prepared to keep it outdoors all year round, covering it with non-woven fabric in the very cold months, if you live in an area with severe winters; or you can place it in a very bright and not very heated stairwell, or in a protected area of ​​the terrace. Surely it is the case to save the plant by pruning it, in order to allow it to support itself; the cladodes that you will obtain from pruning can simply be buried for a few centimeters, so that they root and give rise to new plants. Young plants should also be placed in full sun.

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