Maihuenia poeppigii (Otto ex Pfeiff.) F.A.C.Weber
Opuntia poeppigii, Pereskia poeppigii
Maihuenia poeppigii is a low-growing cactus that forms dense cushions of cylindrical much-branched stems with white spines and needle-like leaves in the upper part of the branches. It grows only 8 inches (20 cm) tall but can spread to 6.6 feet (2 m) in diameter. Branches are oval, cylindrical, and club-shaped, up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) long and 0.4 inches (2 cm) in diameter. The fleshy dark green leaves are straight to slightly curved, with a pointed tip, up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long and 0.15 inches (0.2 cm) in diameter.
The flowers are lemon yellow, funnel-shaped, and appear at the end of the branches in late spring. The edible fruits are oblong, obovate, or club-shaped and up to 2.2 inches (6 cm) long.
USDA hardiness zone 6a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Maihuenia is an easy-to-grow plant. It can survive outside in the garden in the sunny rockery in a sheltered place, but only if it's protected with a sheet of glass during the wintertime. It is also very good for a large pot stored inside an unheated greenhouse or on a balcony, somewhat protected from moisture during the winter. Still, it is probably safest to grow it in the Alpine House or a raised bed inside an unheated greenhouse all year round, with lots of ventilation. They should not be kept hot in summer as they are from high elevations.
During the growing season, it's good to enrich the soil using a fertilizer rich in potassium and phosphorous but poor in nitrogen. It is best to place it in a position exposed to at least a few hours of direct sunlight for balanced development. Water these plants only occasionally if grown outdoors, but they should be watered abundantly if grown in a pot or the greenhouse during the summer. With a high-temperature swing between the day and night hours and frequent rains, the spring weather can favor the development of fungus diseases, which should be treated with a systemic fungicide. Repot it every 2 to 3 years.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Maihuenia.
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