5

I just moved into a new home in Phoenix, AZ, and now have a lot of cacti to tend to. I do not know their care history, or how much/how often they are watered.

One of the largest Prickly Pear cacti is dropping its leaves (pads?) at a seemingly high rate. Is this a sign of over watering, under watering, a lack of pruning, or something else entirely? Some of the pads look wrinkled, which I'm told can mean either over or under-watering.

Here is a photo of the cactus Here is a photo of the cactus

Here is a photo of the place where the most recent leaf-bunch detached Here is a photo of the place where the most recent leaf-bunch detached

Here is a photo of the broken segment on the ground Here is a photo of the broken segment on the ground

This most recent break (the one pictured here) occurred about 24 hours ago.

6

My experience with the prickly pears I have here in Texas (natives and cultivars) is that the wrinkling is typically due to under-watering. The seed pods (tunas) will also wither in low water conditions (I have yet to get my own tunas). Under-watered pads will appear thin. Over-watered are going to appear fat. I have yet to over-water prickly pears. I don't think it is possible in a well draining soil.

I also see structural failure - groups of pads falling off. In my cases it is due to overgrowth. Overgrowth like this is probably quite natural - pads will readily grow as new plants - they're by far the easiest cuttings I've tried. Ie. pads get broken off or "branches" break, put out roots, and you have a new plant!

You also have corking which indicates some age, although I've seen this on some varieties after only a year or two. I don't think I've seen spotty corking like you have though. I don't think it is due to disease (the rest of the plant looks fine). Could be due to sunlight watering, or insect bites in the distant past (the cork would be a natural healing response).

re. pads or leaves. Botanically speaking, the pads are actually elongated stems. The true leaves are the spines!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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