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One of the most popular species grown at home, you can safely call Opuntia. This is a very large family of over 300! Various types. Of course, you can’t tell about all of them, but it’s worth mentioning the most common ones at home.


The cactus is very attractive with its unusual shape of stems that look like "ears". And although America is considered the birthplace of the plant, Opuntia feels quite well in almost every corner of the world. In addition, if winters in your region are not too severe, and the thermometer does not fall below 10 degrees below zero, then the cactus can be planted even in open ground in a garden or, for example, in a flower bed.

In addition, in this article you will learn how to properly care for Opuntia, what its useful properties are, what causes a cactus to get sick and how to propagate it, and most importantly, what species are most popular for growing. Let's get started!

Beneficial features

Prickly pear is not only a cactus, but also a very useful plant. It contains a huge amount of useful elements and vitamins. For example, stems contain amino acids, protein, starch, and more. From the vitamin group, the presence of vitamins A, B (1,2,3) and C can be noted.

Not only the stems contain a lot of useful things, but also the fruits of Opuntia. They are tasty, juicy and rich in phosphorus, magnesium, protein and calcium, as well as glucose.

Thanks to all this, many medicines are produced from Opuntia that help fight various diseases, for example, disorders of the central nervous system, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. In addition, with the help of Opuntia, people successfully fight overweight, skin diseases, rheumatism, etc.

In addition to medicines, glue, oil (something like sunflower or olive oil), detergents and cleaning products, as well as various cosmetics, which, by the way, are not so cheap, are made from Opuntia.

What a useful plant!

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Popular types

Prickly Pear (Opuntia Microdasys)

Adult plants usually grow up to 50 cm. The shape of the cactus is traditional, and the stems themselves have a slightly dark green color. Against this background, golden spines look very good. The flowers are usually medium in size, and have a bright yellow color.

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Prickly Pear (Opuntia)

This species got its name due to the fact that it can be safely planted in open ground without fear of winter frosts. The cactus is able to tolerate temperatures down to minus 30-35 degrees, but under a good layer of snow. If in your region the winters are not snowy, but frosty, then it is advisable to cover the plant with a film.

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Opuntia Indian (Opuntia Ficus-indica) Fig

Also, this species is known under the name - Fig prickly pear. The plant grows quite tall. The shape of the stems is typical of Opuntia. The plant blooms profusely, after which it leaves a lot of tasty and juicy fruits, a little with a pear and strawberry flavor.

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Opuntia Bergera (Opuntia Bergerian a)

Also a fairly popular look that has a slightly different shape. The stems are more elongated, light green with long spines. Blooms quite strongly. The flowers themselves are medium sized, red.

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White-haired Opuntia (Opuntia Leucotricha)

The most notable feature of this species is its long white hairs (thorns). The plant is quite densely dotted with them hence the name went - white-haired. The cactus blooms with small, bright yellow flowers that exude a very pleasant smell, and after flowering, you can enjoy delicious fruits.

Cactus hare ears - Opuntia

Prickly Pear (Opuntia Vulgaris)

This species is often called classic and it is believed that it was from him that all the rest went. Plants grow up to 4-5 meters in height, but this is in their natural habitat. At home, it is difficult to achieve such results. The stems are green, of a standard form, with a small number of spines. The cactus blooms with large yellow flowers.

Cactus hare ears - Opuntia

Opuntia Subulata (Opuntia Subulata)

This species has the most atypical form among the cacti presented here. The stem is long, slightly thick, growing upwards. In the future, the cactus grows quite strongly. The flowers of the subulata are small, pale pink in color, and during the flowering period there are quite a lot of them.

Cactus hare ears - Opuntia

Opuntia Main or Main (Opuntia Basilaris)

Another species that grows strongly, forming whole bushes. Unlike subulata, the shape of the cactus is traditional for Opuntia. The stems are quite often studded with spines and have a light green color. During the flowering period, the plant throws out quite a lot of medium-sized flowers, which can be of different colors - from bright pink to red.

Cactus hare ears - Prickly pear

Opuntia Gosseliniana (Opuntia Gosseliniana)

Gosselina also grows and forms bushes. It blooms with bright yellow flowers, large sizes, which smell very pleasant. Depending on the variety, the stems can be of two colors - green and bluish. In fact, there are no blue cacti, it's all about the plaque that forms on the surface. It has a characteristic color that only gives a more exotic look to the cactus.

Cactus hare ears - Prickly pear



The cactus is very fond of light, especially when there is a lot of it. The best option would be a window sill located in the south or southeast. It is also worth noting that it is better not to put a cactus immediately under the sun, so that it does not burn. It should be accustomed to the bright sun gradually.

As for the winter period, additional lighting is not needed, the plant does fine without it.


The plant should be watered with warm water, you can even boil it, but this is not necessary. In the warm season, the cactus should be watered frequently, not allowing the ground to dry out. Usually it is once a week, i.e. 4 times a month. However, if it is very hot outside, and the soil dries out rather quickly, then the plant should be watered every 5-6 days.

In winter and during dormancy, watering should be minimal. As a rule, 1 time per month, maximum 2. The water is warm, 20-30 degrees, but its amount should be 3-5 tablespoons.

In the summer, spraying from a spray bottle will also not be superfluous.

Temperature regime

As for the temperature, Opuntia feels very good at a temperature of 25-35 degrees Celsius. If we talk about wintering, then at this time it is better to clean the cactus where the temperature is 8-12 degrees. Also, development is positively affected by temperature changes, since in natural conditions this happens quite often.

Humidity does not matter, prickly pear tolerates both high and low humidity very well.

The soil

In most cases, the cactus grows very well in normal cactus soil, but this is more true for plants that have not yet reached the age of five. For more "grown up" cacti, it is recommended to use soil with a high content of sand and clay. Also adding compost and some ash will be a plus. Peat is better not to use.

And do not forget about crushed stone or crushed brick chips, which should be mixed with the ground.


Top dressing should be done during the period of active growth - this is usually spring. But fertilizers can be applied from the beginning of spring to the beginning of autumn. The best option would be fertilizers containing calcium, potassium and phosphorus, but nitrogen should be minimal, as it negatively affects the development of the cactus, and sometimes even leads to the death of the plant. Top dressing should be done once a week or 10 days, not more often.

But it is better to refuse fertilizing during the dormant period, since at this time it is better not to disturb the plant, and you can only do harm.

fertilizer for succulents


The transplant process is simple, and it must be done every 2-3 years, because during this time the soil wears out a lot and it needs to be replaced, and in the old soil, the cactus will not grow.

For a transplant you will need:

  • Pot;
  • Priming;
  • Drainage (expanded clay, crushed stone, crushed brick).

In a new pot, a layer of drainage is poured on the bottom, 3-4 cm thick. Then, a layer of soil is poured on top. The soil can be used ready-made if the plant is not yet 5 years old, or you can prepare the mixture yourself. To do this, in proportions 1:1:1:1:1:2, mix earth, sand, clay, crushed brick, ash and compost. Be sure to mix everything well.

So, now you should remove the cactus from the old pot. To do this, gently turn the plant over and tap on the bottom of the pot. Once you have done this, shake off the old earth from the root system and check the roots themselves. Rotten ones should be removed, otherwise they can cause the development of diseases in the future. After that, place the cactus in a new pot and fill it with soil, but not completely - leave 1-2 cm.

That's basically it. After transplantation, it will be possible to perform watering with warm water.

Rest period

From late October to late February, Opuntia, like many other cacti, has a dormant period. During this time, try not to touch or disturb the plant. Watering should be minimal, as described above. In no case, do not turn, move or transfer the plant, as during this period it is very sensitive and in case of the slightest stress, this will negatively affect flowering.


If we talk about the flowering of the cactus itself, then it happens in the spring. Usually this time falls in May or even June, but this happens less often. The first flowers appear only in the third, and sometimes even in the fifth year, so do not be nervous if your "eared" has not bloomed.

However, for some, even after this period, flowers do not appear, and then they begin to look for information on how to make a plant bloom. The answer is "No way." The only way to make your pet bloom is to follow all the rules for caring for him. If the plant does not bloom, then you are doing something wrong.

flower of prickly pear


If you suddenly want to propagate Opuntia, then you can do this in two ways:

  • seeds;
  • cuttings.


This method is not very popular, because it is rather problematic. Not all seeds germinate, and it even happens that none at all. We have previously written about how to grow cacti from seeds, and so, the principle here is exactly the same, but there is one difference. Prickly pear seeds have a rather dense shell, so they should first be rubbed on a file or sandpaper, and then soaked in potassium permanganate.

And then everything is as usual. Earth is poured into the greenhouse, holes are made there and seeds are planted. After that, you need to wait for shoots. The first transplant is performed after 3 months. More details are written in our separate article.


The most preferred method, which is much more efficient than the previous one. There is nothing difficult in cuttings. First of all, take a well-sharpened knife and select any healthy offshoot from the stem. Then, it should be cut off, and then placed in an upright position in a place where it could dry a little. Usually it is 3-4 days until a film appears at the cut site.

Further, the dried stalk should be planted in a container with wet sand, to a depth of 5-6 cm. The container itself must be covered with cling film and periodically allowed to ventilate, and sometimes watered. As soon as the seedling has roots, a transplant should be performed. How to do this, you can read above.

pricking prickly pear

Diseases and pests

Like any other cactus, prickly pear is also subject to various diseases and pest attacks. But before proceeding to the story of diseases and pests, it is worth noting that most diseases appear with the help of the owners themselves.

This is all due to improper care, too frequent or vice versa insufficient watering, lack of feeding or transplanting, and much more. Although the cactus is an unpretentious plant, you still need to take care of it as it should.

The most common pests of Opuntia are nematodes, mealybugs, aphids and spider mites.

Consider how you can deal with them and how to detect them.


Basically, nematodes attack the roots, so they can only be noticed when the plant is transplanted, and even then not always. The roots should be carefully and carefully examined, and if you notice seals or something like a growth on them, these are nematodes. It is easy to deal with them, for this, damaged roots are cut off a little higher than the growths, and after that, the root system should be placed in hot water (50-55 degrees) for 10-15 minutes.

Next, the roots should be dried and planted in a new soil.


The mealybug is easy to detect - it is white and leaves behind a white coating. To get rid of it, use alcohol to remove all traces of it and treat the pest itself. It is important that there should be no trace left of the raid.

Then, spray the cactus with a soapy solution and leave it like that for 10 minutes, and then rinse everything off with warm water. If there are too many insects, then use a special preparation.

Spider mites and aphids

These pests should also be dealt with immediately. To do this, the plant should be sprayed with a special preparation, in two stages. The break between stages should be from 7 to 10 days, no more.

If we talk about diseases, then Opuntia is exposed to diseases of various fungi and rot.

Basically, the appearance of fungi is associated with frequent watering and improperly selected fertilizers, namely with a high nitrogen content. If suddenly, you notice the appearance of brown or brown spots, lethargy of the stems, their curvature or rotting small areas - this is all due to the appearance of rot and a supersaturation with nitrogen.

To combat these diseases, as a rule, damaged sections of the stems are cut off, sprinkled with ash, and then treated with a special preparation. Also, for greater efficiency, especially if the plant is oversaturated with moisture, the cactus is transplanted into a new pot with new soil, and the first watering is carried out no earlier than after 3-4 days.

But there is one disease from which the plant cannot be saved - this is dry rot. It so happened that the first symptoms of the disease appear too late, when the plant is already starting to dry out slowly. The only thing that can be done is to propagate the cactus with cuttings so as not to lose it at all.

Useful video

Here, in general, that's all. Beautiful and blooming cacti to you and all the best!

Things to know (Q&A)

Are bunny ear cactus and prickly pear cactus the same?

Opuntia microdasys, also known as the bunny ear cactus or angel's wings, is a small cousin of the more commonly known prickly pear cactus . Though it isn't known for its culinary uses, it's a popular houseplant due to its easy care and cute appearanc

How do you take care of a bunny ear cactus?

Bunny Ears Cactus Care

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 three to four weeks. Fertilize the plant every other water period during spring and summer with a diluted houseplant food or cactus formul

What happens if you touch a bunny ear cactus?

Named for its visual appearance, the Bunny Ear Cactus, also called the Polka-Dot Cactus, has the scientific name of Opuntia microdasys. The spines come off with a simple touch, and are best removed from flesh with tweezers.

Origin: Mexico.
Max Growth (approx): Height 12 - 18in/30.5 - 45.5cm.

Is Bunny Ear Cactus rare?

The flowering of Opuntia microdasys bunny ears is uncommon as potted plants . However, the opuntia blooms abundantly when plants are in the ground. The bloom time is in early spring.

Is Bunny Ear Cactus the same as prickly pear?

Opuntia microdasys , also known as the bunny ear cactus or angel's wings, is a small cousin of the more commonly known prickly pear cactus. ... The pads of this cactus can resemble bunny ears and the glochids look like fur, hence the common nam

Do bunny ear cactus have thorns?

What are spines for? The spines of the rabbit ear cactus are a defensive mechanism the same way the quills of the porcupine defend it against its enemy. They come off easily with the slightest touch and stick to the skin. Don't try to pull them out since they'll break in your skin.

What kind of cactus is prickly pear?


prickly pear, also called nopal, any of several species of flat-stemmed spiny cacti of the genus Opuntia (family Cactaceae) and their edible fruits. Prickly pear cacti are native to the Western Hemisphere. Several are cultivated, especially the Indian fig (O.

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