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Cactus Planting?
April 7, 2010 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Planting this plant: How?

My mom picked this piece of a plant in January, brought it home, and stuck it in a glass of water, telling me she could plant it later. I thought she was nuts, but look; 3 months later, roots and blossoms!

So now what?

I don't know anything about this plant, except it was planted outside, and lived through a New York winter. I picked up a bag of "Cactus soil", mainly because it was on sale.

So questions: What is this? It's got microscopic thorns. Do I just stick it in a pot of the Cactus soil and leave it? Can I bury it deeper in the soil, or do I need some sort of support? Or just clear a spot in the yard and drop it in?
posted by Marky to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
 
Looks like a prickly pear.
posted by Ery at 7:41 AM on April 7, 2010


It is indeed some sort of prickly pear (Opuntia).
Put it in a pot of cactus compost with a few stones at the bottom; maybe mix in a little grit to help drainage. Bury it up to about the water level in your picture. Prop it up if it looks like it might fall over. Water very sparingly and not at all over the winter. Eventually it should develop a strong enough root system to support itself.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:44 AM on April 7, 2010


It's a prickly pear (opuntia) and should be able to survive New York winters. I grow them outside in London with no problem. They struggle more with damp than cold and if they get too wet can rot.

So yeah, just plant it, a couple of inches deep. The only problem you may encounter if you put it in the yard is that snails like them. Obviously it's a cactus so you don't need to water it very often.
posted by rhymer at 7:44 AM on April 7, 2010


Looks like a variety of prickly pear. Bury it enough soil to stand up, and it'll take off without much work on your part. Cactus soil is great, but even potting soil would have worked. Think ahead as far as pot size, because it's going to get much bigger. On the plus side, the young paddles make good eating, and the plant doesn't mind being regularly harvested. Just look up "nopales" for recipes.
posted by Gilbert at 7:45 AM on April 7, 2010


I have one of those that I actually bought in the produce section of my local grocery store. Though there are species that are native up into North Dakota/Saskatchewan. The 'blossoms' you are seeing are probably new pads that are growing due to the abundance of water.

to plant, I would just stick it in a pot deep enough that it stands up on its own.

Do not plant it in your yard, because they spread by seed and dropping pads, and can take over. I have read about someone finding a native one growing in their yard, and attempting to kill it by running the lawn mower over it, which just caused it to spread more because each piece grew into a new plant.

if you have a bed you could put it in, that would work. There are a couple houses around here (Iowa) that have them outdoors, and they make it through the winter just fine, but they tend to stick to the ground, because of the insulating effect of the snow cover.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:22 AM on April 7, 2010


Nopalito
posted by hortense at 8:37 AM on April 7, 2010


"I have read about someone finding a native one growing in their yard, and attempting to kill it by running the lawn mower over it, which just caused it to spread more because each piece grew into a new plant."
Not the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" effect!

Thanks everyone, going to pot this afternoon. 85 degrees outside!
posted by Marky at 10:12 AM on April 7, 2010


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