It is almost impossible to not see a cactus plant these days, either in a garden, lawn, terrace or at the florist store, they are everywhere! The reason is not far-fetched, members of the cactus family come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and blooms and it is almost impossible to resist bringing them home with you.
They are also well-loved because they are quite easy to grow. A member of the cactus family is the bunny Ear cactus. Although loved and known by many, a lot of people fault for how to care for it properly.
In this article, you will find everything you need to grow and raise a bunny Ear cactus.
Bunny Ear Cactus Plant Background
|Common name||Bunny ear cactus|
|Botanical name||Opuntia microdays|
|Size||6 – 15 cm long 4 – 12cm broad|
|Soil type||Well-drained soil|
|Origin||Central and northern Mexico|
Also known as Opuntia microdays, the Bunny Ear cactus is a species of flowering plant in the cactus family, Also known as Cactaceae, it is also known as angel’s wings, bunny cactus, or polka dot cactus.
The bunny ear plant is native to central and northern Mexico.
The plant comes in the appearance of a shrub, unlike many other plants, this plant has no spine, and instead, it has numerous white or yellow glochids about 2-3 mm long in a dense cluster.
The glochids are considered the “dots” of the polka dots cactus. If care is not taken, you might find that the glochids have pierced you and caused irritation to your skin.
The Bunny Ear cactus also has no real stem or leaves, instead, they have oval (bunny-like) shaped pads and from these pads, two other segments form, giving it the look of a bunny. The pad-like stems can grow to about 6-15cm long and 4-12cm broad. It is no doubt that the bunny ear plant got its name from the distinctive look of this pad.
Bunny Ear Plant Propagation Requirements
The Bunny Ear cactus is one easy-to-grow plant, and one way to understand its growth system is to look at where it is naturally grown (its origin) this will guide you in your planting and caring. The following are things to put in place when growing the bunny ear plant.
Light is very important to our dear Bunny Ear cactus plant, not just any type of light but bright, full sunlight. For your plant to thrive and grow well, it needs to be given enough light. Love for light is peculiar to plants in the cactus family, so this is no surprise to us.
The cactus plant will also forget if you leave it in the sun for a very long period, you should make plans to place your plant by the window where it can receive the amount of light it requires.
Whether you are growing indoor or outdoor, the bunny ear cactus enjoys low humidity or about 10 – 30 percentage. You do not have to look for ways to add more humidity in your home; your cactus will do just fine with the indoor humidity.
The bunny ear plant is a succulent plant, hence its watering needs are similar to other succulent plants. Succulent plants are plants that are drought resistant, they can store water in their leaves, stems, etc. every part of a succulent plant is usually fleshy and this is as a result of water-storing tissue.
Succulent plants are quite sensitive to watering; hence you should be careful so you do not overwater them.
The most appropriate method of watering is to check the topsoil first, if it is dry, and then you can water. you can also check the weight of the plant before watering, if the plant is heavy, then it still has some water in it, however, if it is of normal weight, then it needs to be watered.
The most appropriate thing to do is to create a schedule based on the weather and climate of where you live. You will be required to water more when it is dry and hot, and waterless when the weather is cold.
Similar to watering, the soil preparation for the bunny Ear cactus plant is similar to other succulent plants. The plant requires well-drained soil that can easily drain water. For the best result, you might want to do a mix of more sand, pumice, perlite, small pebbles, and natural or house plant fertilizer.
All of these help the soil drain excess soil, quickly. Apart from this, this soil also helps the root of the bunny ears from problems caused by overwatering.
The bunny ears enjoy a warm environment and the most appropriate temperature for it is 70 to 100 degrees F. bear in mind that the bunny ears do not do well in cold temperatures; hence if you must grow them in cold seasons, you should place them indoors.
When the bunny ear cactus is grown indoors, most of the time, they show tendencies of slow growth. This is because the soils in which they are grown do not give them the required nutrients.
To enhance their growth, you can provide them fertilizers. Regular houseplants fertilizers are just fine for them; however, you can dilute them with water to half their strength. Feeding them once a month is just fine; this will provide the nutrients essential for their growth.
Bunny Ear Cactus Propagation
Propagating bunny ear cactus is quite easy, and this can be done via cutting. Before we discuss how to propagate the plant, be informed that the bunny ear plant has a defense mechanism and this may irritate your skin when you touch it. Following the steps below on how to propagate your plant.
- Pick a mature plant from which you intend to propagate.
- Remember the plant may irritate your skin, hence you should not touch it, and however, you can break off the pads with the use of a tweezers or gloves.
- You can either choose to dip the root in a rooting hormone or not, however for best results you should. This is because rooting hormones can help speed up the rooting process.
- Prepare your soil, preferably, a pre-mixed cactus potting soil in a clay pot that is larger than the size of the bunny ear plant.
- Allow the cut part to heal and then place your cactus one inch deep inside the soil.
- Water it and place it where it can get enough sunlight.
- In a few days, your plant should have developed its roots.
- Make sure you water your plant regularly, at least, for the first year. This will enhance the growth of the roots.
How to Care For Your Bunny Ear Cactus Plant
After you’ve propagated and got yourself the plant, it’s time to take care of it so it blooms and remains colorful. Follow these tips:
- The bunny ear cactus plant itself is not poisonous or toxic; however, the cute “dots” on the skin of the plant can irritate your skin or that of your pets. You should place your plant far from your pets and also take caution when handling them.
- Like many succulent plants, the bunny ear cactus may suffer from overwatering or other related problems; you need to pay attention to how you water them.
- Overfeeding can also lead to the death of your plant. You should cut down on that fertilizer!
- Generally, the bunny Ear cactus will grow well once given its basic need.
- Bunny Ear cactus grow very fast, hence you might be required to re-pot once in a year. Repotting might involve getting a bigger pot than the former, you should also give them some fertilizer.
- The plant is susceptible to mealy bugs, and unfortunately, it can lead to the death of your plant. If you notice white or rough, brown patches on your plant, it is a sign that your plant has a pest issue.
Bunny Ear Cactus FAQ
How much sunlight does a bunny ear cactus need?
If kept outdoors, your cactus needs at least 6 hours of bright sunlight. When bunny ear cactus is deprived of sunlight, the necessary nutrients to survive becomes absent thus enhancing the decline process in the plant. if kept indoors your bunny ear cactus requires about 14 hours of bright light. If there is no favorable location to place the plant where it could receive sunlight, you could make use of fluorescent lamps or bulbs as a substitute for natural sunlight.
Where do you keep a bunny ear cactus?
Bunny ear cactus is a desert plant that would survive in a desert-like environment. If you want to grow one, you could have to replicate a desert-like environment for the plant. Ensure the environment is a dry, low humidity area with sufficient sunlight. If grown indoors, make use of drilled pots and sandy soil.
Is bunny ears cactus rare?
No, the bunny ear cactus is not rare it is a popular houseplant amongst house plant growers and enthusiasts because of its low maintenance. You could order your bunny ear cactus from online stores such as Plant desert, Etsy, or from cactus nurseries in your vicinity.
Why is my bunny ear cactus turning brown?
Bunny ear cactus turns brown for several reasons. The reasons may be aging, pest infestation, or root rot. When the cactus grows old, a major sign is it begins to turn brown which is a deviation from the green it exudes. Pest infestations and root rot that often occurs from overwatering may be the reason your bunny ear cactus is turning brown.
Why is my bunny ear cactus growing long and skinny?
Your bunny ear cactus grows long and skinny when it is deprived of sufficient bright light. Keeping your plants in a dim environment starves the plant of a basic but essential requirement to thrive. Your bunny ear cactus requires at least 6 hours of bright sunlight daily if grown outdoors. If grown indoors, your plant needs to receive brightness for about 14 hours. Fluorescent lamps and bulbs are efficient in providing the lighting your plant needs.
Does bunny ear cactus have thorns?
No, bunny ear cactus does not have thorns but they have spines. The spines in bunny ear cactus are called Glochids. The spines in a bunny ear cactus help rid off animals that may want to eat or damage them. They also help in storing water and providing shade for the plant especially if grown in a very dry and sunny environment. The bunny ear cactus has a better chance of survival when exposed to dry and harsh conditions like those present in a desert-like environment because of the spines it possesses.
Can you trim a bunny ear cactus?
Yes, you can trim a bunny ear cactus. Trimming is necessary when the pads of the cactus become too huge and the plant begins to tip over. Trimming or pruning your bunny ear cactus helps also in eliminating dead parts of the plant and removing pups. Pruners help trim your plant although it is dependent on the size of the bunny ear cactus. If it is too large, you could make use of a saw. Remember to make use of nitrile-coated gloves when trimming your plant.
How long can bunny Ear cactus go without water?
Considering the thick roots that the bunny ear cactus plant has, it can survive for about 2 years without water although this is still dependent on their species and the environment they are grown in. the spines present in bunny ear cactus helps store water for extremely dry conditions like one present in a desert and this reservoir comes in handy when sufficient water is not available for the plant. this is the reason bunny ear cactus has a better chance of survival than other plants grown in extremely harsh and dry weather conditions.
Can you touch Bunny Ear Cactus?
No, you cannot touch Bunny Ear Cactus with bare hands. Although, it is not poisonous to humans, touching it with bare hands could lead to skin irritations. When handling a bunny ear cactus, make use of tongs, nitrile-coated gloves, thick towels, or newspapers. All these prevent the bunny ear plant from poking you.
The bunny ear plant is a unique plant to have in your home, not just this, the plant is quite forgiving and this is why it is always recommended to new gardeners. In your care for the cactus, you will have to be careful to avoid irritation from the “dots”.
Discover more houseplant care guides: