Quite a few months ago a friend gave us a couple of large “leaves” from a prickly pear cactus plant. I asked her what I should do with them and she said I could eat them or plant them. Her planting instructions amounted essentially to, “Stick them in the ground and water them.” See: https://johnandmarylivingitupinecuador.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/stick-it-in-the-ground-and-water-it/
We did just that and the plants have been growing well.
This type of prickly pear has large thick “leaves” and grows relatively slowly. Today the leaves have sprouted new growth and stand almost three feet tall.
A closer look shows plenty of new buds and growth on these cactus as they continue to grow well.
Perhaps I should take a brief moment to explain the title of this post. Relax kids, I have not lost my mind entirely and have not taken to planting fish! In Ecuador they call the tuna fish either albacora or atun. Tuna is the Spanish word for prickly pear cactus.
Anyway… there is another type of prickly pear cactus that many people grow around here that has smaller, flatter leaves. These cactus grow much faster than the thick leaved plant we have in our garden. Our friend Jeanne has one of these plants in her yard.
I saw this cactus about four months ago and it was only two or three feet tall! Now it stands over six feet tall and Jeanne tells me she has to have it trimmed every few weeks as the growth tries to extend out into her patio area. The cactus also has many beautiful little flowers which grow on pods all over the plant.
We have a narrow strip of dirt separating the front yard area from the parking area. That area is exposed to full sunshine all day long and many of the plants we have tried to plant there have been stunted or died off in the harsh sunshine. We have been replacing less hearty plants in that area with aloe vera, other succulent plants, and cacti which grow naturally here and thrive in the full sunshine.
We asked Jeanne to give us a call the next time she had her tuna trimmed so that we could get a few starts. Jeanne called us later that day and said she had a large nylon rice bag full of clippings, so I hopped on the bicycle and went to pick up some starts for our planter.
She gave us lots! I thinned out some scraggly bushes and planted these tuna six days ago.
As you can see, these were not single leaves, so I supported them a bit with wood slats to give them a chance to take root.
This one had multiple leaves!
There are even some small flowers growing on the newly planted leaves.
I planted six individual plants along what we are now calling, “cactus row.”
But, since I just did the “stick it in the ground and water it” method, I hedged my bet by putting the remaining cuttings in water to get rooted if any of these do not take.
Even some of these plants in the water have sprouted flowers.
So far, it looks like all of the transplanted tuna are going to take root. Here is a little closer look at the beautiful and intricate flowers.
We are excited to watch these tuna grow and bloom here where…
Life is good in Ecuador!