Ask a Question forum→How do I start a new cactus plant?

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Southern California
BobinAVCA
May 8, 2020 1:20 PM CST
I have what I think is an "Old Man Cactus". Please correct me if I'm mistaken. So I've had it for 2 years and it's doing quite well. In the last month or two it started branching out at the top. Can I cut those off and start new plants? I'm assuming I can but I would like to know exactly how to do it so I don't kill it.
See the attached image. Thanks for any help you can offer!

Thumb of 2020-05-08/BobinAVCA/3d2e13

Name: Kim
Black Hills, SD (Zone 5a)
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KFredenburg
May 8, 2020 1:29 PM CST
Welcome! Bobin!

Yes, you can propagate by (cleanly) cutting off parts of your cactus. I would recommend using yard snippers/scissors for this, to get a clean cut. Lol not that you probably would use anything else.

I myself have two baby cactus parts that I cut off from an almost dead golden barrel cactus.

The cut-off cactus part(s) should be left to dry out for about 2 days or so, and then lightly placed in dirt. Once they/it get/gets roots, fully plant it in soil.

Good luck, and let us know how it turns out!
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 8, 2020 1:41 PM CST
Welcome!

Your cactus is a Prickly Pear. The best parts for rooting are whole mature pads. The best cutting impliment is a sharp knife as scissors and pruners pinch to cut so damage a lot of tissue. Let the parts dry for at least a week.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Southern California
BobinAVCA
May 8, 2020 2:33 PM CST
My cactus is not a Prickly Pear. It looks nothing like a Prickly Pear.
Name: Kim
Black Hills, SD (Zone 5a)
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KFredenburg
May 8, 2020 2:45 PM CST
It looks like Bunny Ears (Opuntia microdasys) to me. I am definitely no expert though, and Daisy is.

(Edited to say) and actually, bunny ears is a type of prickly pear according to the database.
Love is patient and love is kind. Always be loving and kind to one another.
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Let’s talk about Animal Fun Facts, Birds, Trees/Shrubs, or Oleanders!
[Last edited by KFredenburg - May 8, 2020 2:48 PM (+)]
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Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

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plantladylin
May 8, 2020 2:50 PM CST
"Prickly Pear" is a common name for a few different Opuntia species, including O. microdasys. https://garden.org/plants/sear...
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 8, 2020 2:52 PM CST
The plant is a prickly pear (Opuntia sp. or related, not O. microdasys). Here is an example of what it could be:

[Last edited by Baja_Costero - May 8, 2020 3:53 PM (+)]
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Name: Kim
Black Hills, SD (Zone 5a)
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KFredenburg
May 8, 2020 3:55 PM CST
Ah, good to know! Are cactus pears different from prickly pears?
Because up here in the hills the wild cactus pears that grow look different then the pictures in the database. They also get HUGE.
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 8, 2020 4:17 PM CST
The most common Opuntias in cultivation are arborescent (heavily branched trees), but there are 180+ species in the genus and they vary pretty widely. Your local prickly pear is probably different from ours. I don't know what a cactus pear is... presumably it's the same as a prickly pear. In Mexico, where these plants are an important source of food, the plant and the edible pad are called nopales, the edible fruit is called a tuna.

This plant was labeled O. streptacantha and there are plenty more in the back, to give some perspective about size.

Thumb of 2020-05-08/Baja_Costero/dadac1

This is our local Opuntia (native to the coast near here) which is more of a low shrub.


It's pretty common for people in Mexico, especially out of heavily populated areas, to plant Opuntias (typically O. ficus-indica) behind their house. Over the course of ensuing years, more than a decade maybe, the plant will grow bigger than the house. You can tell how long a place has been occupied by humans based on the size of the prickly pear out back, generally. Smiling

[Last edited by Baja_Costero - May 8, 2020 4:25 PM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 8, 2020 4:22 PM CST
And in the high desert, its hard to find a prickly pear taller than about a foot. Smiling
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Kim
Black Hills, SD (Zone 5a)
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KFredenburg
May 8, 2020 4:40 PM CST
The first picture is definitely the type we get around here. Except that it's even bigger Blinking which probably just means that it's older, right?
Love is patient and love is kind. Always be loving and kind to one another.
(Abridged from 1Cor. 13:4)
Let’s talk about Animal Fun Facts, Birds, Trees/Shrubs, or Oleanders!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 8, 2020 5:05 PM CST
The only Opuntia growing wild in the rest of California (including the Bay Area) Opuntia ficus-indica.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
May 8, 2020 5:07 PM CST
Some Opuntia do get huge! Opuntia humifusa is a small grower found here in Florida but I've also seen a few Opuntia ficus-indica too and they do get large; the one below was in my old neighborhood:
~ I'm an old gal who still loves playing in the dirt!
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot!


Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 8, 2020 5:19 PM CST
DaisyI said:The only Opuntia growing wild in the rest of California (including the Bay Area) Opuntia ficus-indica.


There is a good variety of native Opuntias in California, like most of the SW. There are handy maps associated with all species on this list (scroll down for the Opuntias):

https://www.calflora.org/cgi-b...

Opuntia ficus-indica is non-native and if it occurs in habitat, that's because it invaded there from somebody's garden. Around here it does not seem to escape cultivation much, though it will persist long after the humans have left the scene...
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - May 8, 2020 5:58 PM (+)]
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Name: Karen
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plantmanager
May 8, 2020 6:03 PM CST
@BobinAVCA, your plants are severely etiolated. They need much more light, and can be put outdoors, if possible.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 8, 2020 6:52 PM CST
You're right Baja, they're all escapees but survivors. In the Central Valley (my area), they are Nopales. Every old house has a fence of them surrounding they entire yard. Keeps the kids in. Rolling on the floor laughing

As my part of CA is mostly Hispanic, I suspect those first cactus came from Mexico. My bff, who describes herself as a 'Black Mexican' can't understand why I won't eat Nopales (or Menudo Rolling on the floor laughing ).

But they have escaped into the hills so have become Northern California's only wild cactus. I don't think N. CA has any native cactus.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
May 8, 2020 6:58 PM CST
plantmanager said: @BobinAVCA, your plants are severely etiolated. They need much more light, and can be put outdoors, if possible.


If its Opuntia engelmannii 'Hairy Roger', its about right. Don't you just love that name? Lovey dubby
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Southern California
BobinAVCA
May 9, 2020 10:20 AM CST
Thanks for everyone's input. I obviously and admittedly know next to nothing about cacti. I actually thought that Prickly Pear was one specific cactus with big flat pads. I'm glad I posted here as I've learned a lot in less than 24 hours!

After more Googling, I believe that "Hairy Roger" is quite likely. Thank You!

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