Whoa! March flew by fast. I’ve almost missed my chance to announce the Clever Cactus of the Month for March!! Luckily, I’m a quick typer. In honour of Easter (which is this weekend, for anyone else who has lost all sense of time), March’s Clever Cactus is the Opuntia Microdasys. Aka, the Bunny Cactus!
Before I get into all the details about the cutest cactus of them all, I want to share a bit about what’s happened this past month in the Clever Cactus office.
March was a bit slow. It’s hard to keep the momentum going, but that’s what we’ve gotta do if we’re going to succeed! Instead of dwelling on what I didn’t do … Let’s take a look at the amazing things that DID happen in March!
- Now Available in our Shop: The Monthly Template & Weekly Agenda template were finalized and posted to the shop this month. If you’re interested in using the Clever Cactus system, but not quite ready to invest in a full-on planner, these templates will help you stay organized at your own pace.
- Sales and sales: I sold a couple more planners (yay!). There are still several in stock. I like to think it’s a great tool to keep you going towards your goals! (Admittedly, I’m a bit biased.) I can ship to anywhere in Canada and the US, so if that was holding you back… it’s not anymore!
So, what’s on the docket for April?
Well, first – I’m going to publish all that great content I’d planned for March. Then, I’m hoping to prepare a few videos (to be posted in May). Of course, there will be a learning curve as I figure out HOW to create videos, but that’s a hurdle for future-me.
My big April project is to finalize the concept design for my next product – a treatment tracking system to help anyone who is managing a medical condition. (Definition to be revised so it sounds better, of course). So check back in the coming weeks to see how it all pans out.
Fun Fact: According to Wikipedia, microdasys is latin for “small and hairy”, a perfectly apt name for a bunny… or a cactus, really.
Bunny Cactus hops into spring
- Name(s): Bunny Ears, Bunny cactus, Angel’s-wings, Polka-dot cactus
- Species: Opuntia microdasys
- Genus: Opuntia
- Home: Central and Northern Mexico
- Natural habitat: arid desert climate
- Height: 40 to 60 cm tall
- Flower: Yellow
- Blooms: Rarely; late spring to early summer
- Availability: Usually available at most plant stores that sell cacti
Quick as a bunny
Opuntia Microdasys is a desert cactus native to Mexico and desert regions stretching up into Arizona. It can even be found in the United Kingdom, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania.
It’s known for its efficient fog collection ability. The spines and hair are perfectly structured to capture and channel fog and humidity. In fact, its ability to collect moisture from the air itself is one of the reasons why it thrives in arid, dry climates.
The bunny cactus has a very easy-to-please nature. In 2012, the Opuntia Microdasys gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. This award was created to help gardeners choose great plants for their home gardens.
Awards are given to plants that are “excellent for ordinary use in appropriate conditions, available, of good constitution, essentially stable in form and colour, and reasonably resistant to pests and disease.” Opuntia Microdasys is easy to grow and thrives in most indoor environments.
Cute as a bunny
The bunny cactus gets its name from the two pad-like stems that grow from the base – always in pairs. These pads can grow to be six to 15 centimeters tall and four to 12 centimeters wide. This cactus grows like a shrub. Once mature, it spreads out to cover between two and five feet of ground.
If you like the idea of having your lawn dotted with bunny-shapes, then you’ll love having this cactus around.
The Opuntia Microdasys has small white or yellow “glochids” instead of spines. These grow in dense clusters and can be up to two to three millimeters long. This cluster growth is what gives the cactus a dotted or spotted look, lending it its other nickname, the Polka-dot cactus.
The spines are very thin, thinner than the finest human hairs, and barbed, making it very painful when they pierce the skin. They also come off the cactus very easily. That’s why you should always wear gloves when handling a bunny cactus. If you do get any spines in your skin, remove them with tweezers.
Optunia Microdasys do flower, if only rarely. The flowers sprout from the end of the “bunny ears”. When properly cultivated, the bunny cactus will bud in the late spring and blossom in early summer. The flowers are a creamy yellow colour that fade to peach when fertilized. When the flowers are done blooming, they produce globular purple fruit.
I hadn’t researched bunny cactus care before handling mine, and I definitely spent 30 minutes pulling tiny almost invisible spines from fingers. So that was fun.
That’s the bunny!
Opuntia Microdasys makes for a great container plant and is so easy to grow, even a beginner can do it. A lot of people love having them around because they’re so cute. Though, as I mentioned above, it’s best to use caution when caring for your bunny cactus. It’s got quite the bite!
One important thing to note is that the bunny cactus absolutely must have its winter hibernation. If it doesn’t get its sleep, it’ll be too shocked and may die.
Bright Lights & Partial Shade
Give your little bunny lots of sun in the summer – full sun to partial shade should work great. During its dormant cycle (aka, winter), take it out of the direct sunlight for some partial shade time.
Hot Summers & Cool Winters
For the most part, Opuntia Microdasys loves average room temperatures. It’s not cold hardy, so anything below 21°C (70°F) in the summer months will startle it into cover. During the winter, it should be kept between 10°C and 18°C (50 – 65°F). It’ll change to a light gray colour when dormant, and bounce right back in the spring.
Minimal Water & Low Humidity
Like all cacti, these little bunnies don’t like to be over watered. In the spring and summer, water it sporadically – every couple of weeks or when the top one inch of soil is dry. Allow all the water to drain out of the pot and empty the saucer when you do water it. In the winter, it only needs to be watered once every three to four weeks. Some experts even say not to water it at all during the winter!
Sandy Soil & Monthly Fertilizer
Plant your Opuntia Microdasys in sandy soil that drains really well. Any pre-packaged cactus soil should work. If you can’t find pre-packaged soil, do 40 percent potting soil, 40 percent sand and 20 percent peat moss. During the spring and summer, feed your bunny once a month – every other watering period. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer, like diluted houseplant food or cactus formula. Stop feeding it one month before its winter hibernation.
Planting & Repotting
Bunny cacti should be repotted every one to two years. Like the animal it resembles, Opuntia Microdasys is very prolific. It’s always best to repot or propagate the cactus in the summer, after the year’s blooms have faded.
How to propagate Opuntia Microdasys
- Use thick gloves or a newspaper to pick up the “ear”.
- Allow the end to callus for a few days, and then insert an inch deep into cactus soil.
- The pad usually roots within a few weeks.
- Cuttings work best when grouped in threes or more.
- Wait one week, then water the young bunny cactus regularly to promote healthy root grown during its first year in the new pot.