orchid cactus house plant

Asked January 24, 2013, 5:58 PM EST

transplanted the 20 year old orchid cactus about a year ago the cactus is getting 18 inch spikes on the lower part of the plant. Can she cut them out?

Klamath County Oregon

1 Response

Cactus spines serve several purposes, including protecting the plant from herbivores, providing shade, and capturing water droplets. In your case it is a houseplant and does not need the spines to protect it. The cactus spine is like a fingernail; it is only alive at the base from which it grows. So the spine itself is composed of dead cells and can be clipped off, but do not get too close to the base cells from which it grows. This web article from which I got the information is technical, but if you want to find out more about cactus spines, check here. http://www.sbs.utexas.edu/mauseth/researchoncacti/spines.htm