Opuntia stricta (Haw.) Haw.
Coastal Prickly Pear, Common Pest Pear, Erect Prickly Pear, Pest Prickly Pear
Cactus chinensis, Cactus dillenii, Cactus indicus, Cactus opuntia, Cactus strictus, Consolea bahamana, Opuntia anahuacensis, Opuntia atrocapensis, Opuntia bahamana, Opuntia bentonii, Opuntia chinensis, Opuntia dillenii, Opuntia inermis, Opuntia macrantha, Opuntia magnifica, Opuntia melanosperma, Opuntia nitens, Opuntia subsphaerocarpa, Opuntia tunoidea, Opuntia zebrina, Pilocereus flavispinus
Opuntia stricta is a cactus that grows up to 6.6 feet (2 m) tall as erect or spreading shrub with fleshy, dull green to grey-green stem segments. The basal stem segments sometimes thicken and form a trunk. The upper segments are flattened, elliptic to obovate, up to 14 inches (35 cm) long, up to 8 inches (20 cm) wide, and up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) thick. The areoles are scattered, spineless, or often with one or more yellowish, up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) long spines and numerous short yellow glochids. The solitary flowers are yellow to yellowish-orange and appear in spring and summer. They are up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) long with a diameter equal to the length. The edible fruits are purplish-red, egg-shaped, up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) long, and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter.
USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 40 °F (+4.4 °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 endemic to the subtropical and tropical coastal areas of the Americas and the Caribbean.
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