The Bunny Ear Cactus, also known as polka dot cactus, is an attractive, low-maintenance plant that can be a lovely addition to your home.
While the name of this cactus may sound cute, be aware that it is just as prickly as the other cactuses, and you must wear protective gloves while handling it.
Whether you are a novice gardener or a neglectful one, the Bunny Ear Cactus is easy to grow and care for due to its highly adaptable properties.
This cactus grows in dense shrubs that can grow as tall as 15.7 to 23.6 inches.
As the name suggests, this cactus is shaped like a rabbit’s ears. It has thick pads adorned with fuzzy bristles or “dots .”
These dots are glochids (patches of many small spines). These glochids are more delicate than a human hair.
The Bunny Ear Cactus blooms between June and July with proper care, showing beautiful yellow flowers around 2 inches tall.
If you plan to grow or care for this cactus and enjoy its soft appearance, you have come to the right place. Read on to learn everything you need about this popular houseplant!
Bunny Ear Cactus: Growing Guide
Like all cacti, growing the Bunny Ear Cactus involves replicating its native regional conditions.
Since this cactus originates from Mexico, it does well in dry and less humid areas that receive plenty of direct sunlight.
The Bunny Ear Cactus requires little care to survive, which makes it an excellent choice for busy plant owners and travelers.
Like most succulents, you can grow the Bunny Ear Cactus by taking a leaf from the cactus and propagating it.
However, you must remove the cactus pad with extreme caution since it consists of glochids that can easily dislodge the skin and are also very difficult to remove.
We recommended using thick gloves or a newspaper while handling this cactus.
After removing the cactus leaf, allow its end to callus for a few days before inserting it into the soil. You must insert the leaf-cutting 1 inch beneath the potting mix.
We recommend using a fertile cactus potting mix for growing the Bunny Ear Cactus.
You can also make the potting mix yourself by mixing 40% of potting soil, 20% of peat moss, and 40% of sand.
The pad of the cactus will develop its roots within a few weeks of being inserted into the cactus soil.
If you are growing the cactus indoors, you will require highly well-drained soil.
You must remember that this cactus does well in a lot of sunlight, so you must place it in a sunny location that receives direct sunlight throughout the year.
A west or south-facing window is the optimal growing location for the Bunny Ear Cactus.
Moreover, it would be best if you watered the cactus regularly throughout the year to promote the growth of its roots.
Remember to let the soil dry out completely between watering sessions and must only water the plant when the top layer of the potting soil is dehydrated.
Like most cactus plants, the Bunny Ear Cactus is sensitive to overwatering, especially during winter.
A clay pot with drainage holes that allow the excess water to drain out works best for this cactus since lack of water drainage can lead to root rotting and mealy bugs.
Tip: You must avoid using an unglazed clay pot for Bunny Ear Cactus since it speeds up the evaporation process of excess moisture, which may kill your plant.
Care Tips for the Bunny Ear Cactus
Follow these simple care tips to ensure optimal growth and blooming of your Bunny Ear Cactus:
Soil Requirements of the Bunny Ear Cactus
The Bunny Ear Cactus does best in sandy, dry, and well-drained soils.
We recommend using a cactus potting mix for this cactus which is readily available at garden centers or nurseries.
Moreover, the soil should be loose enough to allow its roots to spread properly. The Bunny Ear Cactus is vulnerable to root rot if you leave it in wet soil for too long.
Furthermore, you must ensure that the clay pot used for this cactus contains drainage holes that allow the excess water to drain out quickly.
Pro tip: if you want to increase water drainage of your cactus plants, mix in a 1:1 ratio of perlite or bark to create optimal growing conditions.
Water Requirements of the Bunny Ear Cactus
The Bunny Ear Cactus is a desert species of cacti, which means that you will have to take care of its watering requirements until it gets used to the new growing conditions.
Once the cactus has developed a healthy root system, it is one of the easiest plants to grow and care for and can tolerate long droughts.
If you have freshly planted your Bunny Ear Cactus, it would require regular watering to ensure the soil stays damp.
However, you must keep an eye out for waterlogging and soggy soils and only water the cactus when the first inch of the soil is dry.
You can check how moist the soil is by inserting your finger about 2.5 cm into the soil –keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Placing a tray underneath the pot is recommended to allow its soil to drain out by throwing away any excess water.
Once the cactus is fully developed, it requires minimal watering due to its drought-tolerant properties.
The Bunny Ear Cactus can survive weeks or even months without water in the desert.
During winter, the Bunny Ear Cactus requires the least watering, and you must only water it once every two to three weeks.
Overwatering is one of the most common causes of root rotting in winter.
However, this cactus would require immediate watering at the start of spring.
If the growth of your cactus has slowed down or its tips are shriveling, it is safe to say that it is not being watered properly and either requires more water or less.
If you notice these indicators, you must immediately change the watering frequency and wait for it to react.
Light Requirements of the Bunny Ear Cactus
Like most desert cactus plants, the Bunny Ear Cactus requires bright light throughout the year, except during winter.
If you are growing the Bunny Ear Cactus indoors, you must place it in the brightest spot in your home, which receives consistent direct sunlight.
The best location in your home would be a window facing south or west. You can use an LED plant bulb in case your home does not receive sufficient sunlight.
You can also place your cactus 6 inches to 1 foot below a white fluorescent tube for about 14 to 16 hours a day to supplement its light requirements, especially when it is not receiving any direct sunlight.
When placing your cactus outdoors, avoid placing it in a shaded location that receives indirect sunlight.
Fertilizer Requirements of the Bunny Ear Cactus
The Bunny Ear Cactus is a low-maintenance cactus plant that can grow well in poor-quality soils, meaning they don’t require regular fertilization.
However, your cactus could benefit from applying fertilizer in early spring to promote healthy growth in its active growing period.
You can use a diluted fertilizer or cactus formula, which is low in nitrogen. However, remember to avoid fertilizer application between late fall and early spring.
Temperature Requirements of the Bunny Ear Cactus
The Bunny Ear Cactus does not do well in extremely humid or frost conditions. It requires warm and dry conditions for optimal growth and a temperature of between 70 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are growing the Bunny Ear Cactus outdoors, please note that it does best in USDA zones 9a to 11b.
In the late fall, this cactus requires a moderately-cool environment with a temperature of between 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and should also be kept away from the central heating ventilation systems.
Failure to provide these controlled weather conditions may result in your cactus dying.
Since the Bunny Ear Cactus requires low humidity conditions to grow and thrive, you can consider investing in a dehumidifier to create optimal conditions for your cactus.
Common Pests and Diseases
The Bunny Ear Cactus is vulnerable to pest attacks and plant diseases. If you notice white marks on your cactus pads, it is a serious indication that pests have infected your plant.
Pests attacking this cactus include mealy bugs and aphids, which drain its fluid and cause the cactus to droop or wilt.
However, you need not worry –you can apply an insecticidal soap or Neem oil to remove pests.
Root rotting is one of the most common plant diseases to watch out for in your Bunny Ear Cactus, which results from overwatering or excess moisture.
One of the most common indicators of root rot is brown mushy stems or roots.
The Bunny Ear Cactus is an excellent choice for growers since it is visually appealing and easy to maintain.
To promote optimal growth of this cactus, ensure that it receives sufficient direct sunlight and occasional watering and is placed in a warm, dry, and less humid environment.
Not only is this cactus captivating to look at, but it also makes for an excellent desk companion.
So next time you go shopping for plants and come across this cactus, don’t think twice and add it to your plant collection.