Prickly Pear Cactus
Opuntia monacantha monstruosa is a succulent shrub or tree growing to 5m in height.. It often has a definite trunk that is much branched at the top and has drooping upper branches . Branches are narrowly obovate (egg-shaped in outline but with the narrower end at the base) to oblong-lanceolate; base somewhat tapered , 10-35 cm long, 7.5-12.5 cm wide. Succulent branches bear areoles with 1-3 yellowish spines with darker tips, while the trunk areoles have 10 or more spines.
Demands full light growing for most of the year, except during the winter cycle. For the plant's health, light should be reduced to partial sun during this time.
Opuntia is a desert species . Water the plant when the top one inch of soil is dry. Allow the water to drain out of the pot and remove any excess from the saucer. During fall and winter, water lightly only every 2- 3 weeks. Like most cacti, this specimen demands sandy soil-bases that drain easily
Feed Cactus monthly with low nitrogen fertilizer but it should stop one month before the planned winter cycle for the plant's health.
It is an excellent plant for container growing. It always looks good and stays small.
For watering cacti, the golden rule is to make sure the soil is completely dry before watering! This will stop the roots from rotting. It is advised to always use a pot with a drainage hole so that excess water can get drained out. If kept in a sunny area, you will need to water it once every week. If it is in a semi shaded or filtered light area, you might need to water it once in 2 weeks.
Cacti like soil that is well aerated and fast draining. You can fertilise the cactus in the summer months when it is in its growing season. During the winters it is best to cut back on any fertiliser and let the plant rest.
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