Germinating Prickly Pear (Opuntia spp.)
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Mike N.
Posted on: April 5, 1998

I am trying to grow opuntia cactus from seeds and wondered about the germination. On your website it says it takes up to two years. What is the best way to germinate these seeds? I am new into the world of cacti and need all the help I can get.

The species of Opuntia we offer has a dormancy mechanism that prevents the seed from germinating until it is two years old. Sow the seed on top of a sterilized cactus mix soil, press the seeds into the soil surface (don’t cover), water gently, allow to drain, cover the pot or flat with a new plastic bag and put into a bright, warm spot out of direct sunlight. Sunlight will cook your seeds! Then be patient and don’t allow the pot to dry out during the germinating process.

Cactus mix is just ordinary potting mix with about 1/3 sharp aquarium gravel added. To sterilize your own mix, wet it and put it in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. There will be a temporary unpleasant odour which will disperse soon enough after the sterilization is complete.

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