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Nothing is more adorable than the bunny ear cactus without its spines. It must be one of the cutest cacti out there. The best part is caring for the cactus is a breeze as it is low maintenance.
But as with most cacti, it still requires special needs, and we are here to help. So, grab coffee or tea and relax as we explore this spectacular cactus TLC needs.
Bunny Ears Cactus Care
The bunny ear cactus goes by many names, with some popular ones like angel’s wings cactus and polka dot cactus. Yet, the fancier name is Opuntia microdasys. It is a popular indoor plant with flat pad-like stem and lacks long, sharp spikes.
Hence, it makes for a spectacular addition to your home. Still, do not let the cute names fool you as it remains prickly.
Each of those white dots is a glochid-baring patch of a small spine that can dislodge into the skin. So handle this baby with care wearing protective gloves. Another interesting fact is that this cactus comes from northern Mexico and can reach up to 24-inches tall, making it ideal for any living space.
But what care does it need? Let’s find out!
Bunny Ear Cactus Preferred Soil Mix
Like most cacti, the bunny ears are prone to root rot when left in water too long. Hence, it helps to provide your growing bunny ears cactus with a clay pot. The container must be deeper and larger than your young cactus roots.
It helps to have a pot with enough drainage holes allowing excess water to drain freely into the catch saucer. As important as the pot, it helps to provide your polka dot cactus with a succulent potting soil mix.
The soil is sandy and loose to drain water well, allowing the roots to spread. Another great option is cactus soil. Or you can make your homemade mix using a 40% potting mix with 40% coarse sand and 20% peat moss added to retain moisture.
Light Requirements for Polka Dot Cactus
The bunny ear cactus loves the sun, and for the best growth leading to a healthy root system, it needs six hours of sun to keep it happy. So, whether you grow your bunny ears plants indoors or outside, choose a spot where they can receive direct sunlight.
For indoor growing, a south or west-facing window is ideal. Yet, if you find you do not have sufficient sunlight shining into the home. It helps to keep your bunny ear plants below a grow light for up to 16 hours.
How Often to Water Bunny Ears Cactus
The bunny cacti need only occasional watering as it is quite a drought-tolerant plant because of the cactus pads. Nevertheless, young cacti need a bit more tender loving care in the first growing season to grow healthy.
So, to help your plant adjust, it helps to keep the soil damp. You can do this with a good soak of water and let it drain from the container. Another helpful tip is to only water when the first inch of potting soil is dry.
Fertilizing Your Bunny Ears Cactus
The cactus Opuntia microdasys can thrive in poor-quality soils, and regular feeding is not that important. Yet, your baby cactus can benefit from a feed yearly using a succulent cactus fertilizer. The best time to apply the fertilizer is early spring to help boost growth.
Temperature and Humidity Level Needs
Opuntia microdasys love dry, warm conditions, and one thing your bunny ears plants cannot tolerate is frost or high humidity. Hence, it helps to keep your bunny cactus in temperatures between 70°F to 100°F.
Furthermore, another important thing is to avoid too much moisture and drain the potting soil well. The good news is if you live in the USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b, you can grow your cactus year-round outdoors.
Yet, it is best to take your cactus plant indoors when the temperature drops to prevent damage from the cold temperatures.
Repotting YourBunny Ear Cactus
While the bunny ear cactus loves well-draining soil with the full sun, it is a slow-growing cactus. Hence, you only need to repot your cactus every two years. When your cactus is small, it only develops a bigger root system with time.
The best time to repot your desert plants is in summer after it completes their bloom cycle. We recommend a container about one to two inches larger. With a young cactus, you need to water well in the first year, but as your cactus develops mature pads, it requires less watering.
Propagating Bunny Ears Cactus
You can propagate your plant if you want this gorgeous cactus to show its ears in your xeriscape gardens or on a table inside. The best part is you can easily do this using their flattery pads in early summer.
Still, it helps to wait for your angel’s wings cactus to mature before trying it. So, to make the propagation a bit easier for you, follow these helpful steps:
Get some tongs and put on thick gloves to prevent hurting yourself. Next, grab the cactus pad and break it off the mother plant, as you can get a clean break doing this.
If you find the cactus pad not breaking, you can use a sterilized sharp knife to cut it off.
Now group some of the removed cactus pads and leave them in the window to callous over.
Prepare a container with fresh cacti soil and lay the pads flat on top of it.
Soak the soil with some water and check it regularly to top it up with water. Additionally, you can dip the broken-off end in some rooting hormone before you lay it on the soil.
Then place your heat-loving cactus in partial sunlight for a few weeks. Once you see a root system formed, you need not do frequent watering.
When your plant develops a strong root system with new oval-shaped pads, you can move your cactus to a growing environment with natural light outdoors or indoors.
Opuntia Cactus Varieties
There are wide varieties and desert species of Opuntia, referred to as prickly pear cactus, which you can add to your xeriscape gardens or living space. Here are some of our favorites.
Tiger Pear ( Opuntia aurantiaca )
The tiger pear does not grow as dense shrubs but is more spreading in growth. The branches grow more erect, with dark green to purple pads that are flattened and rounded. The flowers are yellow or can be yellow-orange and develops fleshy red-purple fruit.
Riverina Pear ( Opuntia elata )
The succulent pads grow in a shrubby form with segments in glossy green with a purple tinge. The flower is orange, and it produces club-shaped purplish-red fruit.
Wheel Cactus ( Opuntia robusta )
The desert species grow in a tree-like form and have many branches. The succulent pads are segmented in a blue-green color with a circular shape and are thick. During the bloom cycle, it displays yellow flowers and develops fleshy globular-shaped fruit in a deep red color.
Bunny Ears Cactus Diseases and Pests
The Opuntia microdasys, as with most other succulent plants, can come with some problems. The main problem is overwatering. A sign that you have watered your cactus regularly without removing the water is when it droops downwards and gets brown spots.
So, if you do notice the soil moist, leave it to dry completely before watering again.
Another problem is underwatering your plant, which will start to fade. Yet, you can somewhat under than overwater your cactus Opuntia microdasys. Then, all you need to do is give your bunny ear some water to make it smile.
Furthermore, a lack of light exposure can also become a concern with your bunny ear cactus. When your bunny ears do not get enough sunlight, they will start to stretch toward the light. Lastly, you also have pests visiting your bunny ear cactus.
Hence, if you notice white marks on the pads, it signifies insects like aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects. The best solution is to use a q-tip dipped in some rubbing alcohol to remove them.
Alternatively, you can spray your bunny ear cactus with neem oil. Also, when cooler temperatures arrive in the winter months, the best is to move your plant indoors. But if that is not possible, you can provide protection using frost blankets, burlap, or bed sheets to cover them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lack of light. The stems are reaching for any light, which is why branches get leggy and skinny. This plant thrives in full sun and if treated indoors, a few hours of sunlight would help near a sunny window.
Opuntia microdasys is a slow-growing cactus that would take 8-10 years to fully mature. In their native habitat, this plant can reach up to 2 to 4 feet tall.
The bunny ear cactus is a flowering plant. When exposed to full sun and the right nutrients, it will provide you with yellow and white blooms.