Botanical Name — Opuntia miquelii
Common Name — Tunilla or Tuna de Miguel
Plant Family — Cactaceae
Opuntia miquelii is a native of the northern Chilean coast, where it is relatively widespread. It’s cylindrical, bluish stems are covered in long spines and are easily torn from the plant. The species counts on this to multiply. In its home territory, it routinely gets snagged on the fur of roaming guanacos and then dispersed via broken segments and seeds throughout the region.
Opuntia miquelii will grow in full sun to part shade. At least five hours of direct sun a day is ideal.
These plants prefer warm temperatures and low humidity. They will thrive in temperatures above 70 ºF.
During the winter months they’ll appreciate a cool down period with temperatures between 40 and 50 ºF, but it’s best to bring them inside when temperatures routinely drop below 40 ºF.
Opuntia miquelii are extremely drought tolerant, but enjoy a good amount of water during the summer growing season. Let the soil dry out between watering, but when you do water, water them thoroughly, fully saturating the soil.
If you are unsure whether or not the soil is dry, wait a few days before watering. It is much better to underwater than to overwater. Excessive moisture can quickly lead to root rot.
Cut back on watering dramatically in winter, maybe even watering every month to month and a half.
These plants prefer a gritty, sharply draining mix. Use cactus soil or amend regular potting mix with sand and fine pumice up to 50% to improve texture and drainage.
In desert climates these plants can be potted directly in the earth and grown outdoors year round.
These plants only flower after becoming fully mature, many years into their lives.
When they do flower, they produce long, whitish-pink blossoms.
These plants do not require much fertilization. To give them a boost during the growing season fertilize once monthly with a fertilizer formulated specifically for cacti and succulents.
Only fertilize during the spring and summer. Cut back on fertilizing entirely during the winter months.
Opuntia plants are easily propagated by stem cuttings. This plant produces many branching pads that can be separated and potted to grow new plants.
Opuntia miquelii are not especially prone to disease but they can fall susceptible to certain bacterial and fungal infections. Among the most common are prickly pear leaf spot caused by the Phyllosticta fungus, or root rot which can be bacterial or fungal. These diseases are often triggered by excessive moisture, so avoid overwatering and excessive humidity. These diseases are very difficult to treat. Remove infected limbs. Fully affected plants should be destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease.
Pests are not particularly common for this plant. Still, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for common pests such as scale and mealybugs.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
Opuntia miquelii require very little maintenance. Container grown plants prefer to be rootbound and should only be repotted once every two to three years.
Opuntia miquelii are non-toxic to humans and pets.
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