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Opuntia strobiliformis Opuntia strobiliformis

Opuntia strobiliformis

Botanical Name —  Opuntia strobiliformis

Common Name —  Pine Cone Opuntia, Pine Cone Cactus

Plant Family —  Cactaceae

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Background

Opuntia strobiliformis is a slow growing small segmented cactus which is native to Western Argentina.  The segmented stems reassemble little pine cones hence its common name. They will get a pinkish cast when grown in full sun.

Growth Requirements

Sun

  • Opuntia strobiliformis will grow in full sun to part shade. At least five hours of direct sun a day is ideal.

Temperature/ Humidity 

  • 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 they are hardy at temperatures as low as 20 ºF. 

Water

  • Pine cone cactus are extremely drought tolerant. Water them thoroughly, fully saturating the soil. Always allow the soil to dry out completely in between waterings. 

  • If you are unsure whether or not the soil is dry, wait a few days before watering. It is much better to underwater than over water. Excessive moisture can quickly lead to root rot.

Soil/Roots

  • 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. 

Flowering

  • Two inch long white flowers are followed by a brown fruit.

Fertilization

  • These plants do not require much fertilization. To give them a boost during the growing season fertilizer 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. 

Propagation

  • Pine Cone Opuntia plants are easily propagated by stem cuttings or occasionally seeds. This plant produces many branching segments ‘cones’ that can be separated and potted to grow new plants. 

Health

Diseases

  • 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. 

  • Opuntia strobiliformis are not especially prone to disease but they can fall susceptible to certain bacterial and fungal infections. They are often triggered by excessive moisture, so avoid overwatering and excessive humidity. 

Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)

  • Opuntia plants require very little maintenance. Container grown plants prefer to be rootbound and should only be repotted once every two to three years. 

  • The segments can be easily knocked off so the plants should be handled with care.

  • These plants have little sharp glochids (spines)  at the areoles, so be careful not to get stuck or use disposable gloves. 

Toxicity

  • Opuntia strobiliformis are non-toxic to humans and pets.  They have tiny barbed glochids that can be easily stuck in the skin or fur which can be painful and irritating.