Prickly Pear Cactus

By: Larry Hodgson

Prickly pear cactus is easily recognized by its flat pads.See more picture of cacti.

Prickly pear cactus, as with most prickly pears, is instantly recognizable as a cactus by its flat pads, although some have cylindrical segments. They are often lightly spined, but make up for this apparent lack of self-defense through abundant quantities of innocent-looking tufts of glochids -- fishhook-like prickles that break off and stay in the finger.

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They rarely bloom indoors, but their large yellow, purple, red, or orange flowers are very attractive. Pads can be broken off and rooted at any time of year.


Prickly Pear Cactus Quick Facts:

Scientific Name:Opuntia species

Common Names: Prickly Pear, Bunny Ears, Beaver Tail Cactus

Light Requirement for Prickly Pear Cactus: Full Sun

Water RequirementforPrickly Pear Cactus: Drench, Let Dry

HumidityforPrickly Pear Cactus: Average Home

TemperatureforPrickly Pear Cactus: House to Cold

FertilizerforPrickly Pear Cactus: High Phosphorus

Potting MixforPrickly Pear Cactus: Cactus

PropagationofPrickly Pear Cactus: Seed, Stem Cuttings

Decorative UseforPrickly Pear Cactus: Floor, Table

Care RatingforPrickly Pear Cactus: Very Easy


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Larry Hodgson is a full time garden writer working out of Quebec City in the heart of French Canada where he grows well over 3,000 species and varieties. His book credits include Making the Most of Shade, The Garden Lovers Guide to Canada, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, Houseplants for Dummies, and Ortho’s Complete Guide to Houseplants, as well as other titles in English and French. He’s the winner of the Perennial Plant Association’s 2006 Garden Media Award.