Opuntia sulphurea Gillies ex Salm-Dyck
Prickly Pear Cactus
Opuntia pampeana, Opuntia vulpina
Opuntia sulphurea is a low and spreading or erect shrub that grows up to 16 inches (40 cm) tall and up to 6.6 feet (2 m) in diameter. The joints are thick, oblong to obovate, glabrous, usually green but sometimes purplish, up to 12 inches (30 cm) long, and up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide. Spines are very dense, stiff, whitish at first, but somewhat yellowish, brownish to red in age, and up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long. Areoles are small, white, and borne on protuberances. The glochids are yellowish red to brown. Flowers are yellow and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) long.
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °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, lots of light, and very little water. 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.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Opuntia.
This species is native to Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
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