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Succulents: opuntia Microdasys

photo credit: sergioniebla Frutos de Opuntia microdasys via photopin (license)

A perennial plant native to the northern center of Mexico and is part of the great Cactaceae family.
Like any plant belonging to the genus Opuntia also this Cactus has a branched stem formed oval blades indicated with the name of cladodes. Each of them has a length of about 15 centimeters and is endowed with a considerable number of areoles densely covered with tiny spines called glochids, the latter being rather resembling very short bristles. The cladodes are nothing but flattened branches through which the Opuntia Microdasys performs chlorophyll photosynthesis.
As the years go by, the Opuntia Microdasys gives life to large bushes that reach up to one meter in height.
During the summer period from the Microdasys Apuntia are born wonderful yellow daytime flowers whose shape resembles that of a cup. The plant produces delicious edible fruits.

Cultivation methods

The Opuntia Microdasys is a very simple plant to grow, which also grows spontaneously in areas with a Mediterranean climate such as, for example, Sardinia and Sicily.
The plant is suitable for cultivation on soils particularly rich in minerals and composed of earth, sand and stones. Perfect for adorning rock gardens, the Opuntia Microdasys can also be grown in pots.
When you decide to cultivate this Cactus it is good to keep in mind that it needs a lot of brightness, so it must be exposed in a position that allows it to fully enjoy the sun, especially in the less hot months. In summer, however, it is preferable that the plant enjoy solar heat during the morning, but that it is sheltered in the so-called peak hours, that is when the sun is warmer. In other words: when you grow the Opuntia Microdasys you need to find an area of mediation that allows you to enjoy the full sun in autumn, winter and spring, but that in summer protect the plant in the hottest hours.
If planted in pots it is necessary to avoid them stagnation. Irrigation must be carried out in abundant but reduced way from the beginning of spring to the end of summer, so that in winter the Opuntia Microdasys can overwinter in the dry. The plant does not tolerate the prolonged humidity, especially that caused by frosts.
Reproducing the Opuntia Microdasys is very simple. It can be duplicated by seed or by cutting. To perform cuttings, simply remove a shovel and place it vertically. The blade must be buried for 2 cm at most. The soil suitable for the operation is that consisting of a mixture of earth and peat. Moreover, the latter must be kept constantly humid.

Diseases and cures

The plant of Opuntia Microdasys due to excessive water can be subject to splitting with consequent crusting. Like all succulents, this Cactus is also susceptible to cochineal attacks. The disease can be successfully combated by using a quality anticocide. Once the product has been purchased, it is always good to read the instructions in the package before using the product

Curiosity

The young blades (cladodes) of the Opuntia Microdasys are an important vegetable of Mexican diet.

 

 

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