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Can I transplant opuntia as double or triple pad (instead of just one)

2 months ago


I have been growing cacti for about 40 yrs, so I should know this. I had some large opuntia "prickly pear" cacti fall over recently (in ground, not pot; grew too top heavy compared to root structure) and I cut them up to give to my neighbor to re-home; there are over 60 cuttings. I know generally people propagate opuntia a single pad at a time, but about half of the cuttings I provided my neighbor with were single pads, while the rest were double or triple pads. By "triple," for instance, I mean there was the pad that will go in the ground, and there are two pads attached directly to the top of that pad. For "doubles," of course, it is one pad on a pad.

I have done the double and triple paradigm in the past, and it seemed to work out fine for me; the advantage is that you of course start with a larger plant. I don't recall having any trouble with them rooting, even when going directly into native soil (after cut has calloused, of course). Obviously, for double and triples, the bottom pad would have to go pretty deep in the ground so the weight of any attached pads don't tip it over, but that is doable.

But I seem to be the only cactus enthusiast on the planet who does this. Every single tutorial I have seen online does one pad at a time. I have to tell my neighbor whether to cut the doubles and triples I gave him into singles, or plant as is, so I am wondering what other people's experiences in this area have been. On the one hand, one might say "well, if it has worked for you in the past, go for it!" but at the same time I wonder if maybe I have just gotten lucky or perhaps am blessed with a superior cacti-green-thumb, and I don't want to give my neighbor bad transplanting advice.

Thanks for any advice!


PS: Bonus question - How long do you think I should tell my neighbor to let the cut areas on the pads dry out before planting? If I were doing it myself, I would have a sense for when the cuts looked sufficiently calloused, but I want to give my neighbor a specific time frame. So far I have told him one week. Sound about right? I cut them yesterday and the wounds already looked pretty calloused, so maybe 4 or 5 days?

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