Propagation of Opuntia ficus-indica by cladode fragments

M. Mulas, L. Dessena
Agamic propagation of Opuntia ficus-indica by cladode rooting allows a low rate of plant multiplication as compared with other woody plants. One-year-old cladode fragmentation is a possibility for obtaining many small cuttings having homogenous characteristics. However, some physiological characteristics of these cuttings are not well known, such as the relationship among tissue loss of water, storability, viability and rooting ability. One-year-old cladodes of the cultivar 'Gialla' were taken from plants growing in Sardinia in May. Cladodes were portioned into parallelepipeds of 10-12 cm3 volume always having at least two bud areolas in one of the bases. Average dry matter concentration of cladodes at the start of the experiment was around 8%. Cuttings were submitted to a drying treatment in a ventilated oven at 35°C for 72, 96 or 120 h. Cutting weight loss was, respectively, 30.7, 34.4 and 35.4% after these treatments. Dried cuttings were tested for rooting ability by deposition over a sandy substrate for 120 days under open-air conditions. In September, variation in fresh weight among the cuttings with respect to initial weight was recorded. Only rooted cuttings previously subjected to 96 h of drying treatment showed an increase in fresh weight, of 6.9%, while cuttings treated for 72 and 120 h, respectively, lost 18.8 and 24.8% of their fresh weight. Rooted cuttings comprised 85.7, 92.6 and 83.9% of all cuttings in the 72, 96 and 120 h treatments, respectively, with two roots per cutting recorded in all treatments. However, the cuttings treated for 96 h showed the highest root dry weight of 1.0 g, root mean length of 17.0 cm, and number of shoots per cutting of 0.45.
Mulas, M. and Dessena, L. (2019). Propagation of Opuntia ficus-indica by cladode fragments. Acta Hortic. 1247, 149-154
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2019.1247.21
cactus pear, agamic propagation, cutting treatment, drying, rooting

Acta Horticulturae