Opuntia microdasys- The Bunny Ear Cactus

Opuntia microdasys , a lookalike of cactus is characterized by its green pads. The cactus is a flowering plant species in the cactus family Cactaceae. It forms a dense shrub of 40–60 cm tall but more composed of pad-like stems 6–15 cm long and 4–12 cm broad.
In place of spines it has number of yellow or white glochids which are 2–3 mm long and dense clusters.

CAUTION: Glochids may cause considerable skin irritation if touched, so they must be handled with caution.

Bunny ear cactus

It is known by the names of angel’s-wings, bunny ear cactus, bunny cactus or polka-dot cactus. This cactus has no central stem or leaves. The oval shaped pads are the main constituent and attracting point of bunny ear cactus.

Why bunny ear?

Because these pad like segments always grow in pairs which result in an appearance similar to rabbit’s ears. These so called new segments appear as red and grow to dark green colour when mature.

The mature pads are highly covered with glochids which are short whitish brown prickles. These come off easily and can be blown away by wind.

The terminal ends of segment pads are meant for the flowers to sprout. Budding starts in late spring and ends in early summer with 2 inch wide blossoms. These are creamy yellow in colour.
This succulent comes with low maintenance and tolerance of harsh environment but it is more of an outdoor plant.

Click on the text below to know about the edible parts of Opuntia microdasys:

Dietary fiber, mineral elements profile and macronutrients composition in different edible parts of Opuntia microdasys

How to care for Bunny Ear Cactus?

1. Soil
A cactus mix will work very well for bunny ear. Avoid excess organic contents in the soil.

2. Light
4-6 hours of indirect sunlight per day is sufficient. Avoid placing it in a dark room.

3. Water
Watering should be done when the top one inch of the soil gets dried. Any excess water should be drained out from the saucer. Watering in winters should be reduced to once in every 3-4 weeks. Water only the soil and not the pads.

4. Fertilizer
Although, its not needed much but it can be applied in summers. A peat-based compost should not be used. Remember, fertilize it in the evening only.

5. Repotting
It should be performed every 1-2 years. Wait for week after repotting and then water the bunny ears cactus.

6. Pest control
Combat the scale insects and mealy bugs with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol.

7. Propagation
Here is a step guide for performing a perfect propagation of bunny ears cactus:

• Pick out a mature pad and separate from the mother plant. It is best to group the cuttings by threes or more for better survival chances.
• Make use of a tweezer to break the pads off or very thick gloves to handle this part.
• Let the pads to callus for a few days before planting.

Optional: Dip the pads in rooting hormone which helps speed up the rooting and propagation process.

• Prepare a potting mix. A cactus mix is the perfect choice for potted a bunny ear.
• Use an unglazed clay pot slightly larger than the pads that are to be repotted. The clay pot lowers the chance of root rot.
• As soon as the cuttings have callused, plant it one inch deep into the soil and place the pot in a good sunlit area.
• Leave it undisturbed for a few days and let the roots develop.
• Ultimately, water it regularly for the first year. This will help the roots develop properly.

So, have you made up your mind to make this lovely bunny ear cactus your’s?

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