Bunny Ear Cactus (Opuntia Microdasys) | Care And Info

The Bunny Ear Cactus, known botanically as Opuntia microdasys, is a close relative to the Prickly Pear Cactus.

It’s a great houseplant option if you want to grow a cactus, but you don’t know where to start, and it also helps that this plant has a lot of novelty, looking like a pair of bunny ears!

However, it can be a vicious plant to the unsuspecting, as it is covered in tiny needles that you really don’t want to be picking out of your hands with a pair of tweezers.

There are always more than you think, especially after you’ve put the tweezers away!

Interested in growing this plant, but not sure what it needs? Here’s what you need to know.

Opuntia Microdasys Care Guide

Opuntia microdasys is a striking plant, and it is a lot tougher than its cute appearance would suggest.

This plant is covered in glochids, which are rather nasty, and you will spend ages picking them out of your skin with tweezers if you aren’t careful! 

For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep this plant away from pets and children.

If you can mimic the plant’s native conditions of the dry regions of Mexico as closely as possible, this plant will thrive under your care, and live for a very long time.

Where To Grow A Bunny Ear Cactus

The key to getting this plant happy and healthy is to be choosy about where you grow it. 

Like many desert-dwelling cacti, this plant loves direct sunlight, and without it, your Bunny Ear Cactus will start to stretch towards what little light it can get.

A Northern-facing window (in the Northern Hemisphere) is not suitable for this plant, as it simply doesn’t get enough direct sunlight.

Choose a window that gets prolonged afternoon sunlight, as this is the best place for your Bunny Ear Cactus, avoiding any windows that don’t get any sunlight at all.

Keep it as close to the window as possible, which will help maximize the amount of light it can get.

Average household temperatures will be fine for your Bunny Ear Cactus, provided that you make sure it’s out of the path of drafts or sources of heat.

As for humidity, this plant will not appreciate higher levels of humidity, so keep it in a drier area of your home. Higher humidity levels can cause rot!

Soil Needs

Regular houseplant compost does not work well for Bunny Ear Cactus or any other cactus species that live in a desert-like environment.

It simply doesn’t have the sharp drainage that these plants need, and even if you’re careful about watering, root rot can easily take hold and kill your plant.

Instead, use a readily available cactus or succulent soil mix, or mix your own using equal parts horticultural grit and all-purpose compost.

You can also top dress the top of the soil with a fine layer of grit or small rocks to lock in the little moisture this plant needs, and it also stops any plant material touching the surface from rotting, as the extra layer acts as a buffer against moisture.

When To Water A Bunny Ear Cactus

It’s a good idea to water your Bunny Ear Cactus infrequently, but each time you do, give it a good soaking around the surface of the soil.

This helps mimic the rare downpours that a Bunny Ear Cactus would get in its native environment, helping the plant to thrive. 

Allow the compost to fully dry out between watering, and this will prevent root rot. 

Make sure you tip out any water that collects at the bottom, as leaving your cactus sitting in water is a quick way to kill it.

Scale back the watering in fall, and you may even be able to get away with not watering it at all during winter!

Avoid falling into the trap of only giving your plant a trickle of water when you do water it. This can create air pockets in the soil, not only damaging roots, but keeping the root system small and weak, as the deeper the water goes, the better the roots will follow it down into the soil.

How To Repot A Bunny Ear Cactus

You shouldn’t need to repot your Bunny Ear Cactus very often, which is a good thing as it can be complicated!

Only repot your Bunny Ear Cactus when roots are coming out of the drainage holes and during spring or summer.

When it comes to pot size, always go one size upward. Any bigger will be too large for your plant.

As for preventing getting attacked by your plant, use thick gloves, and have some cardboard or a pair of dedicated salad tongs ready to grip your plant. 

The less you can handle it with your hands, the better, as the glochids can get through gloves!

Put the plant into fresh cactus compost, and water it to settle the plant into its new soil.

How To Propagate Opuntia Microdasys

To propagate your Bunny Ear Cactus, take a sharp knife and a pair of gloves, and something you can grip part of the plant with, like salad tongs or something similar.

Take a look at the plant, and select a healthy pad. Use the knife to separate it from the rest of the plant, and set it aside to air dry for a day or two before putting it into cactus-appropriate compost.

Put the pot somewhere warm and bright, but away from direct sunlight. Go easy on the watering for a while until you see new growth on your plant, as the cutting will be very sensitive to overwatering while it is growing roots.

Only propagate your Bunny Ear Cactus during the growing season, and keep it somewhere warm but not humid for the best results.

It can take a while to see new growth, so as long as the plant isn’t drying up or rotting, the cutting is still viable.

Final Thoughts

Bunny Ear Cactus is a great plant that’s sure to be a focal point in any room, but be careful where you put it, as you will get attacked by the glochids.

Always be sure to keep this plant well away from pets and children, as this could be a potential disaster thanks to the glochids that keep the plant safe from predators.

Wait until the plant is completely dry before you water it again, and keep it in a bright and sunny place to make sure it has enough light for healthy growth.

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