Common Names: Prickly Pear Cactus, Bunny Ears Cactus
Botanical Names: Opuntia microdasys
If you have ever contemplated getting a pet but are limited with time, then we have the perfect solution! Opuntia microdasys or more commonly called the Bunny Ears cactus requires no daily care and will not leave little messes around the house! These cacti have the cutest hairy white buttons over their paddle-like stems and grow to form the most interesting shapes. If you provide them with over 6 hours of bright indirect (or direct) light and water them only when the soil is desert-dry, then your new little pet will entertain you with its whimsical style! Cactaceae are ideal plants for forgetful waters and some of the best indoor plants for beginners.
Plenty of bright indirect sunlight is needed to support Bunny Ears Cactus. These indoor plants like lots of light, even during the winter months. Some varieties of Cactus can handle direct light, but be careful because direct light can be damaging, especially for young plants or new growth. When in doubt, it's always best to keep Cactus houseplants in bright indirect light. Learn where to put your plants for the best light!
Bunny Ears Cactus are drought-tolerant houseplants, and the soil must be allowed to dry out between watering. Water as soon as the soil is completely dry throughout while the plant actively grows during the spring and summer. Cacti can go for extended periods without water during winter when the plant may become dormant. It is typical for a cactus to go 1-2 months between watering, depending on the size of the plant and the overall conditions, like temperature and sunlight.
When you do water, drench the soil and empty the cache pot or saucer of standing water. Cacti are susceptible to root rot if they receive too much water, and the threshold for over-watering is relatively low. It is often better to under-water than over-water, so if the plant is not showing signs of dehydration and you're unsure about when to water, there is no harm in waiting a few more days. Learn when and how to water your indoor plants!
Warm temperatures, similar to what the Opuntia microdasys would experience in nature, are ideal. Generally, anything above 50 degrees is fine, but the plant will be happier if kept in an area of at least 65 degrees. Chilly drafts can be a problem, so keep a Cactus plant clear of exterior doors and drafty locations.
Dry conditions are best for Bunny Ears Cactus. Most cacti are not very adaptable when it comes to humidity and prefer to be in areas without increased dampness in the air. Low or average moisture is ideal. Avoid placing cactus in bathrooms, kitchens, or areas prone to increased humidity.
Cacti are not heavy feeders but use a diluted liquid fertilizer monthly during the growing season to help the plant push out new growth. Stop fertilizing cactus houseplants during the winter when the plant is not actively growing.
The Bunny-Ears Cactus is a slow-growing plant and can grow up to 2 to 3 feet tall over 10 to 20 years.
Pet Friend or Foe
The sharp spines common on this cactus can poke and pierce the skin, so be very careful when handling the plant or if you have pets and small children.
- As slow-growing houseplants, Cacti typically need to be re-potted every other year. Although most Cacti are alright being root bound, there is typically no rush to re-pot. When it is time to re-pot, wear thick gloves to protect your hands and select a pot that is 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the existing pot.
- A dormancy or rest period during the winter can help promote new growth and possibly even blooms during the growing season. Give the plant time to rest by cutting back on the water and avoiding placing the plant in areas with hot temperatures during the winter.
- Mature and healthy plants will send out offshoots or pups. These can be removed and propagated. It is best to remove an offshoot when re-potting Bunny Ears Cactus. Using clean shears or a knife, remove the offshoot and let the cut end callous over for a few days before re-potting the new plant in its own pot.
- Not all cacti are pet friendly. We recommend researching the potential toxicity for every plant you bring into your home. The main concern with cacti is the sharp spines that can easily pierce the skin! Always wear gloves when handling these types of indoor plants!