How to Grow Beavertail Cactus

Two Methods:From SeedsFrom Cuttings

The Beavertail Cactus (Opunitia basilares), found primarily in the Mojave Desert and northwest Mexico; can grow to be about 24 inches (60 cm) high; has pads that look like beavertails; and yields red or purple flowers from spring to early summer. Growing Beavertail can be done at any time of year by scattering seeds in a shady bed or, for faster results, planting cuttings in a mix of soil and sand and ensuring that they have a bit of water and plenty of sun. Read the following steps to find out how to grow Beavertail cactus.

Method 1
From Seeds

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    Purchase Beavertail cactus seeds. These can be bought at garden centers or purchased online.
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    Scatter the seeds.
    • In a shady garden bed, simply scatter the seeds on the soil. There's no need to cover them, unless you want to use netting to keep the birds off. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate.
    • Make sure that the garden bed is in the shade. Beavertail cacti seeds need shade to grow, whereas cuttings need plenty of direct sunlight.
    • Be aware that growing Beavertail cactus from seeds takes much longer than growing one from a cutting. It can take as long as 4 to 4 years before you get flowers.

Method 2
From Cuttings

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    Obtain Beavertail cuttings.
    • You can purchase them online or at a local garden center.
    • If you already own a Beavertail cactus, you can make your own cuttings. To do this, choose pads (the flat, oval-shaped sections that make up a cactus) that are 6 months old or older and cut them at the base. In order to form a callous and prevent rot, cure the cuttings by sitting the pad upright in a dry, dark place for 10 to 14 days.
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    Plant the cuttings.
    • Prepare a potting mix that is equal parts soil and rough pumice or sand and fill the appropriate number of pots with it. Make sure there are holes in the center of the base of each pot to allow for good drainage.
    • Set the cuttings upright in the potting mix about an inch (2.5 cm.) deep. If you plant the cuttings too deep, they might rot.
    • Put some rocks around the pad to anchor it in place.
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    Choose a spot for your Beavertail cactus cuttings.
    • If you live in an area with strong summer sun, position the cuttings so that the broad sides of the cuttings face east and west while the slim sides face north and south. This will prevent the cuttings from burning during the hottest part of the day.
    • Make sure the spot is sheltered from any cold winter winds.
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    Wait for a month.
    • Do not water the cutting for the first month. The moisture in the pad will provide enough nutrients for roots to grow. Too much water might cause rot.
    • After 1 month, roots will have sprouted and you can water the cutting for the first time.
    • Always let the soil dry before you water the cuttings. Once fully rooted, they are extremely drought resistant.
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    Fertilize the plants.
    • During the spring, summer, and fall, the Beavertail cactus grows and will benefit from a balanced fertilizer.
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    Let the cuttings grow.
    • From the first pad, many more will form. The second or third pad will bear some flowers, but wait before harvesting them or you might affect the size of future harvests.

Things You'll Need

  • Beavertail cactus seeds or cuttings
  • Potting mix of equal parts soil and rough pumice or sand
  • Pots
  • Rocks
  • Fertilizer

Article Info

Categories: Planting and Growing