In the cacti family, Opuntia microdasys albata may be one of the cutest members. That’s where its common names come from. This species is often known as Bunny Ear or Angel Wings. This paddle cactus is favorite among outdoor and indoor succulent growers because of its easy to please nature.
Bunny Ear is native to northern Mexico and desert regions of Arizona. It grows in a form of shrub and gets up to 2-5 feet high and 6 feet (1.8 m) wide. Bunny Ear doesn’t have any central stem or leaves. It grows from individual oval-shaped segments which constitute the cactus body and then forms additional segments. These new segments always grow in pears and look like bunny ears. New segments are red and become dark green as they grow.
When mature, Bunny Ear has closely spaced glochids or small mounds of prickles that are designed to detach when impacted by something. The glochids are so loosely attached that a strong breeze can cause them to fall off. Having that in mind, you should keep this cutie from kids and pets. This cactus blooms from early spring to late summer. Flowers are creamy yellow and peachy. During the time, flowers will turn into 2 inch long fruits varying from purple to red.
Grow and Care Tips
Being a desert cactus, Bunny Ear enjoys temperatures from 70-100°F (21-37°C). However, you should provide this cactus some colder temperatures during the winter months. This temperature drop should start from late fall and you should keep the Bunny Ear in the temperature between 50-65°F (10-18°C), always away from heating vents.
This plant needs full to partial light for most of the year. If you grow it outdoors, make sure it has 6 hours of sunlight a day. If you grow Bunny Ear indoors, place it near the window in the room with plenty of light.
When it comes to water, these cactus need regular watering during the first season in a new pot. This will help your Bunny Ear form a strong root system. After that, you should water it less, since it needs even less water than other cacti. After all, it’s a native desert plant. When choosing soil for Bunny Ear, you should go for sandy soil-bases that drains easily, since this cactus need moisty soil, but not soggy. However, you can keep this cactus happy in the pre-packaged cactus soil found in common hardware stores.
You can easily propagate Bunny Ear from cuttings. It will produce small offsets as it branches out. Cut these from the main plant using a sharp, sterile knife. After you got your cuttings, lay the pads on top of well-draining soil and water them whenever the soil is dry. It may take several weeks for the cactus pads to grow roots. Once the roots begin to grow, plant your Bunny Ear and water as you would a full-sized succulent.