Opuntia microdasys Albata: The Furry Cactus That Will Make You Think Twice

You’ve heard of prickly cacti, but have you met the fuzzy kind? Opuntia microdasys Albata is a mini cactus with an adorably soft and cuddly appearance that’ll make you want to snuggle right up to it. But don’t be fooled by its fluffy looks – this cactus packs a punch!

With a dense cover of tiny, hair-like glochids instead of typical cactus spines, the Opuntia microdasys Albata is armed and dangerous. Those seemingly harmless white fuzzies are actually sneaky little barbs that detach lightning-fast if you so much as brush against the plant. Getting stuck with them is no fun at all – they’re practically invisible to the naked eye and excruciating to remove from your skin. Trust me, you’ll be thinking twice before trying to pet this prickly little guy!

opuntia microdasys albata

About Opuntia microdasys Albata

This miniature marvel forms a dense shrub up to 2 feet tall and 5 feet wide, with masses of tiny, flat pads clustered together. The pads themselves only reach around 3-6 inches long. Despite its small stature, this feisty cactus certainly makes a bold statement in the garden!

Those fuzzy white glochids cover every inch of the cactus pads, offering protection from curious hands and hungry critters. And just wait until you see the cheerful lemon-yellow flowers bloom, followed by vibrant red fruits. No matter how you look at it, Opuntia microdasys Albata is one eye-catching plant!

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195 Opuntia Varieties [With Pictures]

How to Care for Opuntia microdasys Albata


Like most cacti, this bunny-eared beauty craves as much direct sun as possible. An exposed spot in your garden or on a sunny balcony is perfect. During those scorching summer months, you may want to give it a bit of afternoon shade to prevent sunburn. But otherwise, the more sunlight, the better! If keeping it indoors, supplement with a grow light to ensure it gets enough rays.


Be careful not to over-love this drought-tolerant cutie with too much water. Only give Opuntia microdasys Albata a good soak once the soil is completely dried out – about every 1-2 weeks in spring through fall, less frequently in winter. Always make sure the pot has excellent drainage to prevent root rot.

opuntia microdasys albata


Opuntia like it gritty! A well-draining cactus mix made for succulents is ideal. Or you can blend together 60% perlite or vermiculite with 20% coarse sand and 20% coco coir or peat moss. The key is providing quick drainage while still allowing air flow to the roots. Consider adding some compost or slow-release fertilizer to give it a nutrient boost.


Feed your feisty friend a balanced cactus fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the spring and summer growing season. You can find special succulent fertilizers, or use a general-purpose liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength. Always avoid overfertilizing to prevent fertilizer burn.

opuntia microdasys albata

Temperature and Humidity

Just like in its native hot and dry desert habitat, Opuntia microdasys Albata thrives in warm temperatures from 65-95°F. Aim for low humidity with ample airflow to mimic its arid environment. This cactus can tolerate a light frost, but will need protection if temps dip below 25°F.

Pests and Problems

The thick fur coat of glochids deters most pests, but watch out for common cactus critters like mealybugs or spider mites. Problems like rot or viruses can also crop up from excess moisture or poor air circulation. Prune off any dead or dying segments promptly.


Since this cactus forms such a dense, full shape naturally, very little pruning is required. Just use a clean pruning shear to snip off any stray pieces or dead pads as needed.

Potting and Repotting

Terra cotta pots with large drainage holes are perfect for Opuntias. Go up just 2″ in pot size when repotting to prevent the roots from sitting in too much moisture. Repot in early spring every 2-3 years.

How to Propagate Opuntia microdasys Albata

One of the easiest ways to get new fuzzy buddies is through propagation! Here’s how:

  1. Take a cutting from a mature, healthy pad about 4-6 inches long
  2. Let the cutting callus over for 5-7 days until the raw end Forms a dry surface
  3. Then, pot the cutting in a well-draining cactus/succulent soil
  4. Place in a warm, brightly lit spot and wait for roots to develop in 4-8 weeks
  5. Once rooted, care for your new Opuntia microdasys Albata like a regular plant!

So what do you think – are you ready to bring home this fuzzy little risk-taker? With its adorably soft looks and shockingly prickly defense system, the Opuntia microdasys Albata is one cactus that’ll keep you on your toes! Just be sure to admire its cuteness from a safe distance.