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Question: Cure OPUNTIA

Hi, I have an opuntia plant (for the photos see link below) that grows a lot in height, although it is planted in a rather small vase, with the risk of it being broken due to the always greater weight of the upper part, compared to the stems. Do you have any idea why you don't "widen" but go higher and higher?
Furthermore I should repot and with the occasion I wanted to ask if it is worth cutting a part and making cutting, so as to prevent it from breaking (possibly at what point does it recommend?).
In the photo you will see in particular marked with red circles all new shoots born in the last month. He never made flowers.
If you have any suggestions for me to improve the plant, they are welcome.

Answer: Cure OPUNTIA

Dear Claudio,
opuntias are cacti originating from the American continent, now widespread in most areas of the world's warm climate, including the Mediterranean area; opuntias have a very particular development, their stem consists of articles, called cladodes, typically circular in most species; cladodes in Sicily are also called shovels, and have a round shape, contrary to what happens to the stems of most plants, which have a cylindrical shape. The fact that your opuntia has such a strange development, which is also noticeable at first glance at the plant, is not a good sign, and denotes an evident etiolation. The etiology is the phenomenon by which a plant tends to develop with an excessive space between the internodes. The cladodes of your opuntia first grow cylindrical, and then widen, forming the classic flattened and roundish blade. This type of event occurs due to the lack of light, so your plant is receiving an inadequate amount of direct sunlight, most likely because it is grown indoors and not outdoors; in addition to being elongated, the stems have a consistency not suitable for supporting the upper stems, and therefore the plant needs supports to remain standing. Consider that your plant should ideally live in a sunny place, in the middle of the garden; not having an outdoor space, or living in an area where the winter climate is very humid and very cold, it is possible to cultivate an opuntia in pots, but it would be better to keep it on the terrace; first of all because the light that can receive from a window is always scarce compared to the one that would receive outside in full sun; in addition to this, the climate present in the home, always close to 20 ° C, even in the middle of winter, does not benefit your plant, which surely likes the seasons. So prepare to keep it outdoors all year round, covering it with non-woven fabric in the very cold months, if you live in an area with cold winters; or you can place it in a very bright, slightly heated stairwell or in a protected area of ​​the terrace. Surely it is the case to save the plant by pruning it, so as to allow it to sustain itself on its own; the cladodes that you get from pruning, can simply be buried for a few centimeters, so that they radiate and give rise to new plants. Even the young plants should be placed in full sun.