Bunny Ear Cactus Plant – How To Grow Bunny Ears Cactus

Opuntia microdasys or Bunny ears cactus in a nursery
Image by boonsom

By Bonnie L. Grant

Cacti are the perfect plant for the novice gardener. They are also the perfect specimen for a neglectful gardener. Bunny ears cactus plant, also called angel’s wings, has ease of care combined with an original appearance. The thick pads of this plant are adorned with fuzzy glochids, or short bristles, that resemble the fur of rabbits and grow in earlike pairs. Even a beginner can learn how to grow bunny ears cactus and enjoy the soft appearance of the plant without a lot of typical houseplant fuss.

Bunny Ears Cactus Information

Bunny ears cactus (Opuntia microdasys) originated in Mexico and is a denizen of arid, desert-like areas. Growing bunny ears cactus is as simple as mimicking its native regional conditions. So if you have a dry, low humidity home and plenty of sunny exposure, bunny ears cactus plant might be the perfect plant for you.

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Bunny ears forms a 2- to 3-foot tall plant with a spread of 4 to 5 feet in its native habitat. In the home, it is a slow growing plant that will likely reach 2 feet in height and have about the same width. It makes an excellent container plant with its paired 3- to 6-inch long pads, which start out a rosy red and deepen to bright green.

An interesting bit of bunny ears cactus information is that it does not develop spines. Instead, it grows glochids, which are short whitish brown prickles. These still have the ability to bite, so caution is urged when handling the cactus. If you are lucky, the plant may produce 2-inch wide creamy yellow flowers in summer, followed by globular purple fruits.

How to Grow Bunny Ears Cactus

As with most succulents, you can start new bunny ears plants with a pad taken from the cactus. Use extreme caution when removing a leaf because the glochids dislodge easily and are very difficult to remove from the skin.

Use thick gloves or newspaper to pick up the pad. Allow the end to callus for a few days and then insert into cactus soil. Use a good cactus mix for growing bunny ears cactus, or make your own with 40 percent potting soil, 40 percent sand and 20 percent peat moss. The pad usually roots within a few weeks.

Bunny ears cactus requires a well-drained container for indoor use. An unglazed clay pot allows for evaporation of excess moisture, which is a prime killer of these plants. They can also grow outdoors but are only hardy in United States Department of Agriculture zones 9 to 11.

Bunny Ears Cactus Care

These plants are a gardeners dream for their low maintenance and interesting appearance. Water can be the death of the plant but it does need consistent moisture during the growing season. 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 3 to 4 weeks.

Fertilize the plant every other water period during spring and summer with a diluted houseplant food or cactus formula.

Occasionally, the plant will be beleaguered by pests such as mealybugs and scale insects. Combat these with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol.

Bunny ears cactus should be repotted every 1 to 2 years. Wait at least a week after repotting to water the plant. Other than these steps, bunny ears cactus care is limited and the plant should reward you with its abundant pads and interesting features for years.

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