Opuntia polyacantha Haw.
Plains Prickly Pear, Hair-spine Cactus, Hairy Prickly Pear, Panhandle Prickly Pear, Starvation Prickly Pear, El Paso Prickly Pear, Grizzly-bear Prickly Pear, Navajo Bridge Prickly Pear
Opuntia arenaria, Opuntia erinacea var. rhodantha, Opuntia heacockiae, Opuntia heacockul, Opuntia missouriensis, Opuntia polyacantha var. arenaria, Opuntia rhodantha, Opuntia rutila, Tunas polyacantha
Opuntia polyacantha is a shrubby cactus with spiny oval green pads growing one atop the other. It grows up to 16 inches (40 cm) tall with a spread of 10 feet (3 m). The pads are up to 10 inches (25 cm) long and up to 7 inches (17.5 cm) wide. Areoles are tipped with woolly brown fibers and glochids. Many of the areoles have spines that vary in size and shape. Flowers are yellow to magenta, up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter, and appear in early summer. Fruits are cylindrical, brownish, and have short, stout spines.
USDA hardiness zones 3b to 9b: from −40 °F (−40 °C) to 30 °F (−1.1 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Though the large variety of species within the Opuntia genus means different Prickly Pears may need slightly different care. All are desert cacti that need lots of sun, light, and very little water. So if you live in a hot, arid area, these plants can generally be planted outside, left alone, and enjoyed.
These cacti will grow just fine in a garden, but they can also be grown in pots. To repot, ensure the soil is dry, remove the pot and knock away the old soil. After treating any cuts with fungicide, place the cactus in a new pot and backfill it with potting soil. As with a new cutting, make sure not to water a newly repotting Prickly Pear for a brief period to avoid rotting its roots.
Opuntia can propagate either by cuttings or by seed. To propagate by cuttings, sever pads from a plant and let them dry so that the wounds heal. Then place the plants in dry soil and refrain from watering them until they begin to grow to avoid rotting them.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Opuntia.
This species is native to North America, widespread in western Canada, the Great Plains, the west and the central United States, and Chihuahua in northern Mexico.
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