As very robust as prickly pear cacti are, they are still not immune to diseases and pests. However, if you act quickly, you can save the plants.Prickly pear cacti are not immune to diseases. Prickly pear cactus originally comes from America and was previously a crop of the Aztecs in what is now Mexico. It is a robust plant that is not very susceptible to diseases and pests. Nevertheless, maintenance errors can creep in or even spread pests. As a rule, you can quickly get these problems under control again. You just have to act in time.
Careful care - healthy prickly pear
The right location and moderate watering are crucial for healthy and vigorous growth. Since it is a desert plant, you should definitely avoid too much moisture! The prickly pear needs dry, warm air to maintain its resilience. If the planting substrate is too moist or the air humidity is too high, rotting and mold growth can occur. A proven antidote: implement the prickly pear. Before it gets into new substrate, let the root ball dry out in the air.
Watering and fertilizing prickly pear cactus - this is how it's done
What to do with brown and white spots?
Occasionally, brown or rust-colored spots appear on the leaves. The spots are not optically beautiful, but harmless to the plant. Keep an eye on the discoloration. However, if the discolored spots are whitish and feel soft, a fungus can be the cause. Too much moisture is usually to blame.
The prickly pear cactus can often no longer be saved when mushrooms form. You can still try a special mushroom remedy, but the chances of a cure are unfortunately low. Better: take one or more cactus ears as cuttings and grow new plants.
How to recognize and combat mealybugs
If you take good care of your prickly pear, pest infestation is unlikely. If you want to prevent, keep it dry, warm and sheltered, as too much moisture in the earth will affect its resistance. But be careful: in the winter quarters, the prickly pear cactus is often particularly at risk if the air humidity is too high or the room is too poorly ventilated. If mealybugs spread on the cactus despite your efforts, there are effective countermeasures that you can take.
In the event of an infestation with mealybugs, webs spread out on the plant that resemble a cotton ball. Hence the name "mealybugs". These suck out the plant sap and at the same time release a poison into the prickly pear. The leaves then turn yellow and shrivel. In addition, the plant loses vitality.
Isolate the prickly pear so that the infestation cannot spread to other plants. A plant protection product containing neem oil is suitable as the best antidote. Such as. Bayer organic pest-free Neem (available here). This will prevent the lice from reproducing. The application must be repeated after two weeks. This is the only way to be sure that all lice have been destroyed.
Those who prefer to work with natural methods use predators: ladybugs, parasitic wasps and lacewings kill lice and safely free the prickly pear.
This helps against black gnats
Black gnats can also cause damage to the young prickly pear. The tiny mosquitoes feed on the earth first and then spread to the plant.
A simple trick helps with infestation with black gnats: With a layer of sand on the substrate, you prevent black gnats from settling and multiplying. In the case of older prickly pear cactuses, however, there is no such danger.