I recently purchased a small cactus plant from my local store for about $5.

I've been giving the cactus lots of sunlight and a good watering every week.

I've noticed that since I bought it, the other cactii at the store have sprouted long and deadly looking spikes of at least 2 inches in length. My cactus has extra little clones growing out of it but its spikes are stunted and disappointing.

Why won't my cactus grow spikes?

My cactus is of this variety: opuntia


Well it's been about 8 months and my cactus has finally started to grow spines!

I stopped watering it altogether, but instead gave it a good misting every day. Once I increased the frequency of the misting, it grew a new head with spines of the sharp variety.

  • "a good watering every week." is often "a good way to kill a cactus." They're susceptible to root rot, especially in soil w lots of organic matter. Once a month should be plenty. Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 16:03
  • Related: gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/10981/…
    – J. Musser
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 17:43
  • Cactus watering suggestions definitely don't fit all. If I didn't water mine for a month, they'd all be dead. You need to determine what is appropriate for your local environment including the soil, type of pot, air flow, sunshine, air temperature, soil temperature, etc....
    – Tim Nevins
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 17:13

1 Answer 1


Are they like the ones in the photo? Those are the "juvenile" spines. Depending on the variety they will fall off, or they will develop in to proper spines.

The cactus is an Opuntia or prickly pear. These hybridize easily and they are the most diverse type of cactus. They are also very easy to grow. Not all of the classic "pad" Opuntia (like yours) develop spines. There are spineless varieties which have been bred for gardens (or I assume so - I see them in garden centers but never seen a proper species name associated with them in books/etc). These develop the "juvenile" soft spines which drop off. A few of the hairs might be left behind, so you don't want to blindly run your hand over the surface.

There are also "furry" types which are technically spineless. These don't develop spines but develop a lot more hairs than usual. Look very pretty but the hairs are a lot more painful than the spines! "Cinnamon Bunny Ears" is a common name for one of these varieties that you often see for sale here in Texas.

  • 1
    I have noticed that my cactus has been growing some insanely painful hairs! I suppose that's just as good in a way Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 13:46
  • 3
    Those hairs are called Glochids, and they're a pain to get out. Best way is to remove with tweezers anything you can get to first, then cover the area in Elmers (or similar all-purpose) glue and let it dry. Then you can peel the glue up
    – Fondor1
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 19:54
  • Definitely use glue, not sticky tape to get rid of glochids. Fun Glochid Facts!: they are deciduous (if they fall off, the'll grow back), they are barbed (that's what maker them difficult to remove) and they used to be (maybe still are) the itching component of itching powder.
    – Tim Nevins
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 17:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.