Cultivation of small andean Opuntioideae

I will bring here a few Ideas and Opinions from my self, how I cultivate this Plants. Most of South-american small Opuntias grow in the higher Parts of the Andes,mostly Maiheniopisis, Cumulopuntia and the invalid Genus Airampoa.The "true"Tephrocacti and meny North-american Species growing in hot, dry Planes or Prairies and similar Places, they are also the best conditions for cultivationfor this Plants.On the other Hand, windy,airy Places with brigth Ligths brings very healthy Plants with a good spination and flowers.


For the fast growing Species like`s Airampoas , O.fragilis and similar Plants are hanging Baskets the best. Maihueniopsis,Cumulopuntia and Puna needed deeper Pots , they will forming big Tap-roots, Pterocacti too.Repoting are essential for growing and I will do it all 2-3 Years.

Growing Medium

Meny Cacti-collectors used a compost-mix with a high mineral content.Mostly of the opuntias are " Water-plants" and need a good watering and feeding in the vegetationperiode.Look for a good drainage , but the soil must hold the moisture for a longer time !Under free-rooting conditions all Opuntias will grow taller and faster.


From April until to mid of September we can watering the established Plants liberal. By a few Plants, and in a fact for the true Tephrocacti its very important no watering until the buds are bigger and almost ready for open.For the Austrocylindropuntia floccosa-group it`s absolutly essential to hold the vegetations-periode from Juli-Februar !


Plants of the Airampoa-group are very good for flowers, this carpeting,creeping Cacti flower freely. Meny Plants of other Genus will be more bigger in Size when it does flowering. Potbound, starved plants will rapidly look tattty and won`t flower well.


In my experience I can say the most Maihueniopsis, Pterocactus and Airampoas does well, from the true Tephrocacti will the seed more ore less germinate too.Cumulopuntia it's the hardest Germinator, the round seeds has a stonehardy Arrilus and I haven`t any luck with this seeds.Austrocylindropuntias are a little difficult but they need a longer Time for Germination. The other method it's the most practicate ! With Cuttings it's the way for a bigger Plant in shorter time very easy.We let`s do dehydrate the cuttings for a few weeks and the roots will coming quick.


Small Opuntias have a wide range from North to South in Southamerica, in Norhtamerica cover the small ,creeping O.fragilis a huge area til Peace River in Canada. Most of the cacti with the popular Name "Tephrocacti" occur the higher regions named as Monte-Region and the higher Parts, the "Punas".The spreading of all Species occur bigger or smaller Parts of Bolivia ,Chile ,Peru and Argeninia.In the Species Austrocylindropuntia has been included species that will be find in altidudes til 5000meters o.S.(floccosa,Bolivia,Peru).The small Opuntias are included in one of the oldest cacti-family, so we can explain the most Genus and Species have a own distribution in a specific area. The most Plant grow in full Sun and stand against very cold Nights and warm Days, in the dry-time will a few plants are shrinking in the Tap-roots and are protectet for Animals and others negativ Influence.


© 1999/2006 C. Hunkeler