Opuntia microdasys, commonly known as Bunny ears cactus, is native to Mexico. The pads of these plants grow in such a way that they resemble a bunny's ears or an angel's wings. It is one of the most popular houseplants as it is the easiest to grow and has an interesting structure. It can survive almost any condition and thus even a novice gardener would have difficulty killing it.
Bunny ears cactus can survive almost anything except overwatering. If it is grown in hot and dry conditions, then it practically grows on its own and requires very little care from outside.
These plants can survive directly under the hot overhead sun; They tend to naturally adapt to it.
These plants require very little water. Even slight over watering can damage these xerophytes. Though little but regular watering is necessary during the years of growth. Watering should be done once the soil has dried.
During the fall and winter, light watering should be done once in 3-4 weeks.
A cactus mix is ideal for growing these plants. The cactus mix can be made at home by mixing 40% potting soil, 40% sand and 20% peat moss.
New Bunny ears cactus can be grown from a pad taken from another plant. The end of the pad should be allowed to callus for a few days and then it should be potted. A well-drained container like an unglazed clay pot must be used for potting the plants.
The plant is a slow grower. When grown in a container it grows to a height of 2 feet and a width of 4-5 feet. The pads 3-6 inch long.
The plant gets its name from the pads of the plant which looks like the ears of a bunny or the wings of an angel. The pads are green in colour and have brown prickles called glochids. These plants rarely produce flowers. The flowers are 2 inch wide and creamy yellow in colour.
The plants must be fertilized every other year during watering. A dilute houseplant food or cactus formula is good enough.
The plant should be repotted once in every 1-2 years as they grow very slowly.
Bunny ears cactus is often infested by mealybugs and scale insects. Rubbing cotton ball moist with alcohol over the infested areas might help.
They are used for ornamental purposes.