Most gardeners find it tough to maintain their expensive plants. As a result, the succulents do not perform well. If you are looking for an easy-care houseplant that can tolerate neglect, Bunny ear cactus is for you! It is a beginner-friendly succulent that is low-maintenance yet eye-catching. A native of Northern Mexico, this attractive variety is a relative of the Prickly pear cactus. Here is the ultimate guide on Care & Propagation of the Bunny ear cactus, with some tips on repotting and much more!
About Bunny Ear Cactus
Bunny ear cactus or Opuntia microdasys is a popular species from the Cactaceae family that grows up to 2 to 3 feet (61-91 cm.) in height. It is noted for thick pads that are covered in short bristles, resembling the ears of rabbits. Also known as Angel’s wings or Polka-dot cactus, these cacti do not develop spines and instead form fuzzy whitish brown glochids that can easily come off from the pads. The pad-like stems grow from 2 to 6 inches in height and spread up to 3 inches. Rabbit ear plants are slow-growing and usually take up to 20 years to reach their eventual height. Monilaria obconica, also known as Monilaria moniliformis, is one of the succulents that look like bunnies. Although the Opuntia microdasys plant has cute nicknames, it can harm if not taken precautions. Therefore, it is better to wear gloves while handling it and place your cactus in a spot where your pets and children do not visit often.
Bunny Ear Cactus Flowering
Polka-dot cactus blooms in early spring. When it is in the ground, the plant blooms plentifully. However, when grown in containers, flowering is not seen very often. Bunny ears bloom bowl-shaped creamy yellow flowers that are 2 inches wide in diameter. The flowers develop into 2 inches long red to purple-colored fruits.
Bunny Ear Cactus Care
The bunny succulent grows well in dry areas, with plenty of sunlight and minimal watering. So, if you provide them with dry and low humid conditions, they will thrive beautifully.
Angel’s wings grow well in a sunny spot. If grown indoors, place your plant in a west or south-facing window. You can also use a grow light with a white fluorescent tube for 14 to 16 hours each day. When planted outdoors, ensure the heat-loving succulent gets 6 to 8 hours of direct bright sunlight. During winters, the plant prefers partial shade.
Bunny ear cactus is adapted to receiving less rainfall and is drought-tolerant. While growing in spring & summer, the plant prefers regular watering. Let the soil dry out completely between waterings and avoid overwatering as it can lead to root rot.
These cacti should be planted in sandy and well-draining soil. You can use a commercial cactus potting mix. The recommended soil blend helps the plant to drain excess water. Additionally, you can make your own soil mix as well by using a combination of regular potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand.
Temperature and Humidity
Bunny ears succulent plants prefer dry and warm conditions. It is not frost-tolerant and requires less humidity to survive. This plant is hardy in zones 9a to 11b and needs humidity in the 10 to 30% range. To remove excess moisture, ensure the pot has drainage holes. Make sure the appropriate temperature is 70 to 100℉ for the active growth of your cactus. Moreover, the minimum temperature it can tolerate is 50 to 65℉.
The Opuntia microdasys plant does not need frequent fertilization. Adding fertilizer once a year during the growing season is sufficient for the plant’s rapid growth. However, ensure not to fertilize too often or during the dormancy.
You can re-pot the Bunny plant at the end of summer when they stop blooming. Repotting should be done every one or two years. Keep in mind to repot your cactus in a pot that is one to two inches bigger than the current one. Apart from this, covering hands or using an old cloth to handle the succulent is advised as the glochids can hurt. After repotting, give your plant a week to recover and then, start watering and place in direct sun. Avoid using fertilizer for a month.
How to Propagate Bunny Ear Cactus?
The propagation process of this plant can be done in two ways:
The best time to propagate these cacti is in summers when the plant is growing. Let’s look at the steps involved in the process.
- Break a mature pad from the parent plant- To begin with, remove one of the fully grown pads from the cactus. Make sure to wear gloves as the glochids may irritate your skin.
- Set the pad aside to dry out- This step requires the base of the cutting to callous over for a day or two.
- Plant the cutting- Pot the dried pad in a container filled with a cactus potting mix or well-draining soil. Bury the cutting an inch beneath the soil.
- Place in a sunny spot- Keep the container in a location that gets a few hours of direct sunlight every day until the roots start to sprout.
- Water the plant- After propagation, it is vital to water the cactus frequently in the first year as it ensures the root system stays healthy and develops faster.
Growing bunny succulents from seeds is more challenging than from cuttings. It is because seeds are very small in size, making it difficult to place as the wind can easily blow them away. Let’s see how to plant seeds and propagate bunny succulents.
- Fill the planter with regular cactus potting soil.
- Take out the seeds with clean hands and gently sow them on top of the soil.
- Let it dry out and recover for a couple of days before watering.
- Once settled, you can start watering the plant and place it in the bright sun.
Common Problems with Rabbit Ear Cactus
- Mealybugs – You may witness mealybugs and scale insects being attached to the bunny succulent. They are not healthy as they cause white patches on the pad surface. Pest control can be done by taking a cotton pad dipped in 70% isopropyl alcohol and pressing the pests with it.
- Stopped growth - Overwatering or underwatering leads to this problem. Observe and work on the watering routine.
- Drooping of the succulent - A plant wilts when it is grown in poorly draining soil or exposed to excess direct light.
- The appearance of Brown spots - Sudden drop in temperature or insects can be the reason for brown patches on the pads of your cactus.
- Dried-up pad tips - Overwatering Angel’s wings is harmful, especially during dormancy. It also leads to the stem base rotting. As it is a drought-tolerant species, periodic watering works the best.
Bunny ear succulent care is easy and manageable as all these issues can be tackled. You can also contact a gardening center near your area for a solution.
Opuntia microdasys or Polka-dot cactus is a great choice for homes and outdoor settings. Low maintenance and easy to grow, these cacti are perfect for beginners. If you give them a dry environment, plenty of sunlight, and occasional watering, they will give amazing results! Shop for these unique-looking plants and give your garden a refreshing makeover.