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Grafting on Opuntia compressa: Distinguishing characteristics.


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of Cacti and Succulents.

The peculiarity of the grafts on opuntia.

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Grafts on Opuntia are very long lasting compared to the grafts made on other stocks. 

One of the main problems in grafted plants is the formation of a woody neck at the union point between scion and stock, for example the grafts made on Hylocereus grow very fast in the first or second year, but soon the connection point of the two plants becomes suberose and any further growth is seriously reduced and it is better to detach the scion and make it re-root or regraft it to another young stock.
I made several experimental hypocotyl grafts to test the duration and development of different stocks in the time. In the photo you can see two Ariocarpus grafted when very young seedlings (only few days old) on two different stocks: The first on a young Opuntia seedling and the second on a few days old Cereus peruvianus. The Opuntia grows and enlarges as the scion enlarges, the union is perfect and almost invisible, no woody neck is formed and after three years no signs of suberization are visible, a uniform layer of elastic epidermoid has been formed and the plants keep growing healthily and strongly. The initial better performance of the plant grafted on Cereus peruvianus has been nullified.


Very flat and compact growth

The development is typical and conforms to the natural characteristics of the species. Plants like Strombocactus (in the photo) maintain a very flat body and don't lengthen in an unnatural way as is usual for plants grafted on other stock. Some species like Astrophytum super kabuto grow very flat and it is possible to obtain very nice specimens. A lot of other different kinds of cacti demonstrate the same performance when grafted on O. compressa:

Astrophytum Onzuka
Young Rebutias heliosa and Mammillaria theresae in flowers Spectacular and abundant flowers also in very young plants.

The plants shown on the left (Mammillaria theresae & Rebutia heliosa) are not yet one year old, but they are already blooming. This is a very significant characteristic for  one who loves flowers and for who desires to get quickly fruits and seeds.
But above all these plants are surprisingly beautiful and very ornamental!!!
Every time that I see one of them in bloom I get enchanted as if it were the first time I have seen  it, I would like to show it to everybody.

Copiapoa lauii 1,5 cm diameter
Copiapoa lauii
Mammillaria sancez-mejorade diameter 1 cm
Mammillaria sancez-mejorade

Astrophytum myriostigma

New roots are easily produced at the scion base.

The production of new roots at the scion base is very important. After a few years, as soon as  the plants reach a good size, it is possible to make the scion root while  it is still grafted. It is possible to bury and hide the stock deeply in the ground, so it becomes invisible and the scion starts developing its own new roots and, at the same time,  it is still fed and supported by the stock. If the stock is  much too large we can cut it at 1-2 cm below the point of union, and make it root like a common cutting ( for the best root activation we can treat the cutting base with a rooting powder and let it dry for some days in a shaded room before potting and watering)


Strong and healthy root apparatus.

Opuntia is a very rustic stock, no problems at all if the soil is too wet, it does not rot, it is extremely rare to see a dead one. I find this plant very adaptable and hardy in every condition, perhaps it likes  a little more water than other cacti. It isnít even damaged if kept wet during winter and cold weather.

The plants grafted  soon make  clusters of shoots.

The plants grafted on Opuntia grows flat and compact, branch  freely and quickly forms groups.

However Plants on Opuntia have a very natural look.

The plants in the picture are three years old (at the beginning of the fourth spring of their life), they were grafted when still very young seedlings on Opuntia hypocotyl, now the stock is invisible.
Strombocactus disciformis, Rebutia heliosa and Escobaria leei show a very pleasant appearance, a multitude of blossoms. They are well developed and healthy but not deformed like many of the common grafts usually seen.


"English text kindly corrected by John Chippindale"


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