Question: What success can opuntia cuttings have?
Hi, I would like expert opinion on a matter. I decided to grow an opuntia ficus indica by cutting. I live in Calabria, where the opuntie grow very well up to 4-5 meters high in the wild; now, however, I have cut two cuttings from the mother plant with fairly large cladodes (between 25 and 40 centimeters each) and I would like to know what the success rates of engraftment are. Of course, once the cuttings were cut, I placed them in the shade in a dry place to allow the severing wounds to dry out (I left them to dry for 4-5 days, also applying, after cutting them, a spry fungicide). at that point, after 4-5 days I planted them in the garden soil (also very fertile soil) also putting a bit of rooting powder and burying the support shovel for 3/4 and the next day I gave a nice spray to make the earth moist but not soaked with water, to prevent the plant, still without roots, from rotting. I would now like to repeat the procedure with a second cutting in my possession, of even greater dimensions which was cut off by a part of the mother opuntia which had become woody (almost a real trunk at sight). And therefore I would like to know if the procedure used by me is correct and if there is a good chance that the aforementioned cuttings take root, specifying however that they have a south-south-west exposure being located behind the enclosure wall of the house. Thanks for your attention, I hope to receive an answer. Sincerely, Sergio.
Opuntia cuttings: Answer: Opuntia cuttings
the operations to grow the cuttings you put in place are the best possible, and therefore you should have about an 80% chance that your cuttings will take root; consider that opuntia takes root with great ease, which could bring your chances of success to 100%.
As for the new cuttings you want to prepare, it is usually not advisable to use woody parts of the succulent plants for cutting, as the chances of success decrease greatly, compared to the cuttings of green parts of the plants. In fact, opuntia cladodes, when they are still green and turgid, sometimes tend to root even when they are still attached to the mother plant; instead the woody stems of succulent plants are very difficult to root, and are therefore not recommended for this operation.
Generally, once interleaved, the opuntia cuttings are left completely dry, without watering; you will only have to start watering again when you see that the blades are starting to produce shoots again, and therefore have already produced roots. The waterings provided during the rooting period, can be very harmful, as they favor the development of mold and fungi and go to frustrate your very well done work in the preliminary phase.
Opuntia are considered Mediterranean plants, as they grow spontaneously in all the countries that overlook this small sea; in reality the opuntia are cactaceae, which come from far away, from South America, and were introduced around 1700, in many areas they initially became common as thorny hedges; only later were they used as plants from which to draw fruit, and also to be used as fodder for livestock. In South America, opuntia plants were already cultivated by the Aztecs, who used them to breed livestock, but also as a culture (or breeding) ground for mealybug, which they then used as a food coloring, given the intense red color that derives from crushed insects. There are about two hundred species of opuntia, the most widespread is certainly opuntia ficus-indica, or the common prickly pear.
All the species develop broad flattened, rounded stems, divided into segments, and covered with more or less large thorns; the thin thorns of opuntia have the characteristic of being surmounted by a sort of hook, which makes it difficult to extract the tiny thorns (similar almost to small stiff pelets) when they penetrate the skin; in these cases we recommend washing with oil, which seems to solve the root problem.