Cholla Cactus Growth: How Fast, How To?

how to grow cholla cactus fast

What is Cholla Cactus (Cylindropuntia)

Cholla is a cactus that belongs to the Opuntia family that includes the prickly pears. The plant is characterized by its spines that have the characteristic of becoming stuck inside the skin. Painful spikes are surrounded by a sheath-like material that can be extremely vibrant and attractive.

In terms of height, they typically require at least 40 cm/yr of either height or width. Certain are small trees while others are creepers, however, the segments tend to be identical in length.

These cylindrical prickly pears often referred to as chollas, are prohibited in certain countries. This is due to the fact that they are considered to be an invasive species due to their rapid growth rate and their primary mode of reproduction.

A few suggestions for growing different varieties of Cholla Cactus plants quickly will aid you in your first steps.

How to Grow a Cholla Cactus Plant

To grow a cholla cactus garden, you must know the demands of the plants. When you fulfill those demands, automatically your cholla will grow fast. Let’s explore those demands one by one

  • Propagate: The way to propagate Chollas is via the vegetative stem or pad plant. They also develop from seeds but they do so very slowly.
  • PH level: The pH of the soil should be moderate and the area must be well-filtered to keep out the bog and excessive moisture that can lead to decay in the root system of the cactus.

  • The first step is to check the pH in the soil. The ideal pH for this species of cactus is between 6.0 to 7.5.
  • If the soil is acidic, include lime. If it has alkaline properties, adding sulfur would be more effective to reach the pH you want.

  • Soil quality: The soil should be loose to the depth of 8 inches (20 centimeters) when planting and include additional dirt or gravel to improve porosity. Create a planting hole double as long and wide as the plant’s roots and then pack it tightly into the soil around the roots.
  • The earth has to be light, whether it is going to be kept on the garden floor or if you are going to choose to have it in a pot. Therefore, if it is very heavy, it is advisable to mix it in equal parts with perlite.
  • Watering: Cholla cacti require supplemental water for a while, but they will require minimal irrigation when they reach maturity, with the exception that is in extreme drought.
  • It is important to water the cholla cactus thoroughly following the planting. Reduce the frequency of watering to once every 6-8 days in the initial month. In summer the plant needs watering every week. In winter, it is best to water the plant very sparingly.

In addition, The soil must be allowed to dry completely between one watering and the next.

  • Container with well -drainage: It is also possible to grow Cholla Cacti in a pot with drainage holes. These plants aren’t wintered tough and are the most suitable option for gardeners in northern climates in which case they can bring the plant inside when cold weather is threatening.
  • Placement: The location you choose to plant the cholla cactus must have a minimum of six hours of complete sunshine per day.

  • Root rot: Another crucial aspect is well-drained soil since soggy soil could cause plant root rot. You can compost and then add sand to the soil, which is suitable for the growth of the cholla Cacti.
  • Dig a hole that can comfortably accommodate the root ball of the plant. Put the plant in the hole and cover the hole with soil.
  • Fertilizer: While there is no need for fertilizers in this species, make use of a balanced fertilizer in smaller quantities throughout the growing season.

  • Sun Exposure: In order for cholla to grow to be healthy,  it is vital to put it in a bright spot. The plants that are able to thrive require lots of sunlight for good development. It does not need to keep the plants in shade.

  • Multiplication: The Cylindropuntia grow through cuttings and through seeds in spring. Cuttings must be 20 centimeters long and then be placed in pots. They can develop roots after around 14 days.
  • However, the seeds are able to germinate when they are placed in pots filled with cactus soil. The seedbed is placed in full sunlight. The seeds will begin to germinate shortly as this, within about 7 days if they’re fresh.
  • Rusticity: The degree of hardiness is dependent on the species, however, it can withstand frigid temperatures and even mild frosts.

How to Care for Cholla Cactus to Fast Grow?

Generally, for every cholla cacti, you have to follow some care and precautions to grow them fast. Here are those rules:

  1. Making sure that the soil is properly prepared and has exposure to sunlight is essential for good Cholla Cactus care.

  2. The plant’s moderate requirements for moisture make it ideal for a dry or xeriscape ( with no watering ) garden.

  3. The primary issue in these plants is the presence of mealybugs. Mealybugs are dealt with using insecticidal soap or eliminating the majority of bed bugs using the help of a garden hose.

Cholla can withstand temperatures as low as 5 ° F (-15 C) for brief times, but it is more tolerant of temperatures that average 50° F (10 C).  and flowering when temperatures are 70 degrees F (21 C) or more.

There are many varieties of cholla cactus available in the world. Some of those names are  Cylindropuntia rosea, Cylindropuntia prolifera, Cylindropuntia spinosior, Cylindropuntia imbricata, Cylindropuntia Tunicata, Cylindropuntia cholla, and Cylindropuntia fulgida. In this blog post, I will describe some of them how to grow fast. 

How to Grow Cylindropuntia  Rosea or Hudson Pear Cactus

Cylindropuntia  Rosea

To grow this cactus fast, just observe and maintain the following criteria

  • Cylindropuntia Rosea requires complete sun exposure and dry, hot weather.

  • They resist frost down to -10C. 

  • It is important to water your plants in a controlled manner throughout the year and stop watering during winter.
  • They are used in pots, in rockeries, to cover dry and sunny slopes or to form impenetrable barriers.

  • The soil could be used as a commercial cactus substrate that has 20 percent coarse sand.

  • Fertilize twice a  month with the mineral fertilizer that cacti require in the spring and summer months to encourage blooming.

  • They aren’t usually affected by diseases or pests.

  • Cylindropuntia Rosea is easily propagated through cuttings.

How to grow Cylindropuntia Tunicata (Sheathed Cholla) Cactus

Cylindropuntia Tunicata

These are cacti, which are shrubby, with cylindrical green stems that can reach 60-70 centimeters in height. They are adorned with white thorns. They grow yellow and green and red blossoms. They bloom in spring.

Try to give the following conditions to grow your Cylindropuntia Tunicata

  1. Cylindropuntia Tunicata requires complete sun exposure and warm temperatures. They can withstand occasional frosts.

  2. The soil could be commercially cultivated cactus substrates or a mix comprising 50% coarse sand, and 50 percent leaf mulch.

  3. They are highly resistant to drought; water when the soil is completely dry. In winter, there is no need for watering.

  4. Fertilize with a cactus fertilizer in spring and summer every 4 weeks.

  5. Sheathed Cholla does not need pruning.

  6. They are highly resistant to pests, however, they are attacked by fungi when there is too much humidity.

  7. Cylindropuntia Tunicata can be easily propagated via segment cuttings.

How to Grow Cylindropuntia fulgida (Jumping Cholla Cactus)

Cylindropuntia fulgida

Tips for growing Cholla cactus, Cylindropuntia fulgida.

Cylindropuntia Fulgida is a species that is highly resistant to extreme heat, able to withstand temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius. The next step is more primary  care:

Lighting: A lot of sunlight for maximum improvement and expansion. It can withstand the scorching summer sun during the hottest times of summer. The sun’s rays are essential to stimulate the growth of plants. If the plant is grown in shade the stems will a thin, excessively long (etiolation ).

Temperature: It is a great choice for environments where temperatures range between 15 and 32 degrees Celsius. It is tolerant of temperatures up to 0°C, provided that the substrate is dry and the stems aren’t covered in frost.

Substratum: Highly tolerant to various types of substrates. It is able to thrive in substrates with a high content of minerals as long as they have good drainage and adequate air circulation. The roots are not tolerant of waterlogging.

Irrigation frequency: It is resistant to drought, however, it is recommended to supply sufficient water during the warm months of the year to stimulate development. It is essential to water when the soil is dry. In winter, watering needs to be suspended. Pests and diseases: I have not seen any typical pests that are common to this cactus, but they could be affected by different species of mushrooms. It is a species that is extremely resistant to pests.

How to grow Cylindropuntia  Bigelovii cactus (Teddy Bear Cholla)

Cylindropuntia  Bigelovii

Cylindropuntia bigelovii (Teddy Bear Chola) makes up the Cactus family. It gets its name “teddy bear” due to its spines which appear to be fuzzy.

  1. C. bigelovii can be located on sunny, dry hot, and steep slopes.

  2.  C. bigelovii uses very low water for its growth.

  3. C. bigelovii is heat resistant and requires sun for growth.

  4. The minimum temperature required for growth conditions is 50degF.

How to Grow Fast Cylindropuntia Prolifera (Coastal Cholla)

Cylindropuntia Prolifera
Species NameCylindropuntia prolifera
Sun ExposureCoast-Sun, Inland-Sun,
Water RequirementLow
Soil TypeSand, fast draining
Flower ColorPink, Magenta, Rose

How to Grow Fast Cylindropuntia Spinosior

Cylindropuntia Spinosior

It favors alkaline soil and can be grown best in a loose-draining, gravelly, sandy, and gritty mix.

Cylindropuntia spinosior is a simple plant to cultivate, beginning it’s in a relatively small plant for your home and, after some careful care and thoughtful shaping, it will become an extremely decorative and sculptured specimen.

Some Facts about Cholla Cactus 

The generic name refers to this genus as a part of the earlier Opuntia genus which is distinguished by their cylindrical stems. Opuntia is a reference to Opus the ancient Greek city believed to have included “a spiny-type plant that grew in the outer reaches of the city.

In the past, these cactus species were part of the Genus Opuntia however, now this genus has cacti with flattened stems (like the prickly Pear) only. The most distinctive characteristic of cholla cacti is its cylindrical stems.

They are composed of cylindrical stems, arranged in segments, and covered with 2.5 cm long spines. The most fascinating aspect of the Cholla cactus is its variety of forms. It is either a shrub, a vine or even it could be a tree. Sizes vary from a few feet up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) tall. The flowers are either green or orange, based on the species. They bloom from April through June.

Below are some interesting facts about the cholla cactus.

  • Cholla’s succulent stems cacti are used to store water, provide photosynthesis as well as flower and fruit production, etc.

  • The pods of these cacti are paper-like and covered the spines. These pods are bright in certain species which is one of the reasons for the unique look this plant has.

  • The sleeves made of paper are designed to reflect light and shield items from extreme temperatures. The majority of cholla cacti growing in extreme temperatures have a lot of branches with spines.

  • Although in the majority of species the leaves are altered to spines, some species can develop leaves before flowering.

  • The colors of the flowers of the Cholla Cactus may vary from greenish-yellow and reddish according to the different species. The majority of them are trees and shrubs.  However, there are certain vines.

  • Cholla cactus wood is utilized to build perches for birds, handicrafts, etc.

  • The stems from the jumping cholla snap off easily and usually stick to the skin and clothing of those who pass by. It’s like they are bouncing over people and hence the name. It’s also known as hanging cholla because the fruits create an elongated chain that hangs down.

  • In the case of the teddy bear, the plant appears fuzzy and soft from a distance since the stems are totally covered with thorns. Therefore, this cactus can be referred to as the teddy bear cholla.

  • This cactus can grow to 0.5-1.5 meters (1-1/2 to 4-1/2 feet) tall. The stems are small to densely branched, with semi-ascending erect branches.

  • The stems measure 9-15.5cm (3-1/2 or 6 inches) long, are green to gray-green in hue, and have spines ranging from 18 to 27 in each areola, with a length of 2.6 up to 4.4 centimeters (1-2 inches) long.

  • The petals of the flower range colored from bronze to yellow and change to red-magenta as they get older. The blooms are visible between March and May. The fruit is grey-green to beige, barrel-shaped with spines that are dense and are dry after they have ripe.

Final Wrap Up

Unlike other cacti, cholla cacti need direct sunlight to grow. However, like other common cacti, all cholla varieties need well-drained soil.

The soil needs to completely dry between each irrigation and the following one.

They don’t need fertilizer all year round but in the growing season, fertilizers promote their growth.

Cholla cacti are different varieties like a shrub, a vine or even it could be a tree.

Though they are drought-resistant, watering once a month is good for their growth.

Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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