> Looking for some experienced advice re: cactus I planted about 15 June. Today is 14 July.
> Live in Surprise.
> Plants are called Eve's needle.
> First, no real experience w/ outdoor cactus plants. Dug nice big holes, mixed in the "palm and cactus" soil from hardware store along w/ native soil. Holes are somewhat self draining with some mild sloping to assist in that regard. Placed easily without breaking spines, etc.
> Eve's needle were about the color of brocalli heads on purchase. Bought two. Nicely curled growth and wanted for specimen area.
> First week in the ground, before I noticed it, the rabbits ate the new little spiny growth that make them unique. Caged them after that. So there was immediate stress.
> Meantime, they look kind of yellow/green both exterior and the curled interiors. Also, the new growth tips start out green and the very ends are banana yellow.
> I did soak them upon planting. Give about 32 oz each week. It rained very steadily on July 4.
> Am I overwatering? Shock? Shade needed? wrong time of year to plant? All the above?
> I have before I planted, and current pictures available if that will be helpful.
> Didn't see a means to attach.
> I really like look of cactus and these in particular look unique. I also spent alot of time raking, digging, lugging, etc, by myself so I have sweat equity and want these to succeed.
> Thanks very much for any assistance.
First of all....don't panic! Your Eve's Needle, botanical name Opuntia subulata, can handle rabbits eating the green "needles" at the top. Those green needles are actually leaves, as Opuntia subulata is one of the few cactus that have real leaves on them. The rabbits are eating them to get the moisture from them. You did the right thing by caging it, the next thing you want to do is to use that cage to put shade cloth on it. The shade cloth that is sold at big box stores reduces the sunlight too much, so to keep your cactus from being shaded too much only use it on the southwest side of the cage. Don't completed cover the top and sides with shade cloth, you'll end up with a cactus that puts on long skinny stems as they try to reach for more light, a process called etiolation.
As for watering, water nice and deep every 2 weeks to get it through it's first summer. If you bought your cactus in the same store you bought your soil, I can guarantee it came from southern California. If you still have the original pot, read the label, it should tell you where it was grown. Since they are mostly coming from California, they are going from paradise to the hell of summer in the Phoenix metro area, so they usually need a little pampering their first few summers. A way to get around this is to plant them in October, as they will have a much long time to acclimate to our sun & heat...but you still need to keep an eye on them in the summer, it could take several years of shading it in the summer to get it better able to handle our summers.
So, keep it shaded and watered until mid October, then you can back off on the water (keep it dry in the winter) and take the shade cloth off. You may need to keep it caged for a while until it gets big enough to not have any further rabbit damage be center stage.
Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions,
Christine Bahto, Master Gardener, Maricopa County, U of A Cooperative Extension_______________________________________________
Arid_gardener mailing list
All contents copyright 2007. Arizona Board of Regents/University of Arizona