Tephrocactus articulatus var. diadematus (Lem.) Backeb.
Spruce Cone Cholla, Spruce Cone Cactus, Pine Cone Cactus
Opuntia diademata, Tephrocactus diademata
Tephrocactus articulatus var. diadematus is a unique cactus with fragile, erect stems composed of cylindrical segments that resemble pine cones. It grows up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall. The prominent tubercules and clusters of silvery spines are spirally arranged along with the segments. Some forms lack spines. A shy bloomer, this cactus sometimes produces white to pinkish, up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter, cup-shaped flowers in spring or early summer. The fruits that follow are barrel-shaped, dry-fleshed, and very thin-walled.
USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Though the large variety of species within the Opuntia genus means different types of 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 be grown in pots as well. 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.
Tephrocactus articulatus var. diadematus is native to western Argentina.
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