How To Take Care Of Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly pears don’t need to be pruned, but they can be trimmed back. To keep the pads’ size and shape, take out individual ones as necessary. Holding the pad in place with tongs, cut it off at the junction or line where it attaches to the following pad. Pads can be calloused off and shared with pals or planted somewhere else. Find out more about propagation below.

Amendments & Fertilizer:

Young plants should be fertilised with a balanced 10-10-10 fertiliser. A water-soluble fertiliser with a ratio of 5-10-10 or even 0-10-10 can encourage more flowers and fruit in established plants. Use a nitrogen-rich fertiliser if you’re growing for the pads.


Prickly pears can withstand severe droughts. For the first month, don’t water newly propagated pads. After that, water during the first year every two to four weeks—twice a month in the summer and once a month throughout the other seasons. Rainfall will usually be sufficient to keep established plants alive. When there is a drought, you can supplement with the twice-monthly/once-monthly seasonal schedule.

off a pad pruning, a new prickly pear plant has grown. Selma Jacquet/Alamy Stock Photo provided the image.


Since seeds grow slowly at first, it can take your plant three to four years to begin blooming and bearing fruit. The seeds should be maintained moist until they begin to sprout since they require shade.

Pad propagation is considerably easier and produces results more quickly. This is how:

  • By according to the above pruning rules, you can take off pads that are at least six months old.
  • The cut end of the pads should create a callus if they are left to dry out in a spot with some light shade. This can take two to four weeks in warm, dry weather, but it may take longer under cool or humid conditions. It prevents the new plant from decomposing at the base.
  • Plant pads at a depth of 1 inch in a mixture of half soil and half sand once they have fully calloused over. Your plant could rot if it were buried any deeper.
  • For the first month, don’t water it because the pad already has enough moisture to survive.
  • Until roots develop during the course of the following month, support it with rocks or another type of structure. Your plant should be able to stand on its own after a month, but if it’s still a little unsteady, keep providing support.
  • You can water it at this time and follow the previous watering instructions, just make sure to let it totally dry between waterings.

Flowers and fruit normally start to appear on young plants by the second or third growing pad.

How is a potted prickly pear cactus maintained?

The prickly pear plant prefers dry environments and needs very little water to remain healthy. Because of this, cacti are frequently utilised in low-water gardening. The soil should only be watered every two to three weeks or if it is absolutely dry. Simply mist the soil with water rather than saturating it.

What is necessary for prickly pear cactus to survive?

The prickly pear needs dry weather, soil that drains well, and lots of sunlight to thrive, just like all cacti. When planting outdoors, make sure they receive the sunniest, driest place in your garden. Make sure your pot has drainage holes in the bottom if you’re growing your plant indoors, advises Churchill. Allow the soil to dry up before watering lightly with warm water until you notice water dripping from the bottom of your container. You should empty any water that has collected in the saucer beneath your pot if you don’t want it to seep back into the soil and damage the roots. Use a cactus-safe ingredient to give your prickly pear a boost. “Fertilize using an all-purpose plant fertiliser once in the spring and once in the summer (look for one that’s high in nitrogen to accelerate pad growth).”

What causes prickly pear cactus to die?

SurmountTM, a herbicide that combines fluroxypyr and picloram, the sole active component of Tordon 22KTM, is the one suggested in Brush Busters. Although prickly pears are notoriously slow to age, SurmountTM pads age and melt down more quickly than Tordon 22KTM pads (approximately a year) (about 2 to 3 years).

Can you grow a prickly pear indoors?

A few criteria must be met in order for the prickly pear cactus to flourish and grow healthily when grown indoors in containers. Prickly pear cacti prefer warm, humid environments and direct, bright light indoors. It is best to have a window that faces south or west. Keep the prickly pear cactus away from radiators, fans, and other direct heat sources as well as draughts that could change the temperature.

Because prickly pear cacti enjoy warm climates, they can be cultivated both indoors and in heated greenhouses or conservatories. The plant can be carried outside to a sunny, warm patio or deck in the summer and thrives with 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight. When the autumnal weather start to dip off, be sure to bring the plants back inside because they are not frost-resistant.

How long does a prickly pear cactus live?

The large, flat, green pads of the Opuntia engelmannii, also known as the Engelmann prickly pear cactus, are a sure sign of its presence.

The 3″ long white spines might be straight, curled, or flat. They are also covered in glochids, which are very tiny, barbed hairs. Each pad has several areoles, which are common central locations from which groups of up to six spines might arise. The golden flowers bloom between May and June. Beginning in July, ripe fruit can be discovered; they are recognised by their vivid red hue.

Prickly pears can be found growing in sandy or gravelly places, along rocky hillsides, around boulders, and in washes.

Prickly pears of the Englemann variety can be found throughout much of the arid southwest, from central Texas through southern California’s interior. Their distribution extends into central Mexico’s Sonora state as well as northern Baja California.

Prickly pear cacti come in a number of various types, each of which has a range of sizes. The Engelmann prickly pear, which may reach a height of 5 feet and a width of 10 to 15 feet, is the most widespread species in the Sonoran Desert.

  • This cactus’ crimson fruit, which resembles a pear, is also called as “tuna.”
  • Texas’ official state cactus is the prickly pear.
  • At the foot of these plants, packrats frequently construct dens, which therefore offer refuge from some of its predators.

How do you tell if a prickly pear cactus needs to be watered?

Every cactus is unique, so it’s up to you to figure out how to care for it by paying attention to how it changes whether you water, repot, fertilise, or propagate. Knowing how frequently to water your cactus is crucial for the plant’s survival.

These plants have the wonderful quality of being very tolerant to water neglect. Their leaves or stems will turn pale or yellow if they are neglected too much, though.

Here are some pointers to help you choose how frequently to water your cactus:

Cacti require routine fertilisation and watering from March to September, when they are in full growth. To keep them from drying out, water them at least once every week. Only water them when they are fully dry when dormant.

Make sure the topsoil is totally dry before the subsequent watering cycle. To assist you determine the moisture level, you might purchase a water gauge. An alternative is to insert a stick into the ground; if the stick comes up dry, the plant needs water.

Be out for warning signs of overwatered or underwatered cacti. When a cactus is underwatered, it will appear pale, and when it is overwatered, it will appear unusually fat, which finally causes root rot.

Why is the cactus on my prickly pear trembling?

Excellent and resilient plants, cacti are rarely troubled by numerous problems. However, cactus may also cause you some problems. One of the problems is a cactus that is falling over or drooping. You can discover the causes of your cactus drooping or toppling over in this essay, along with solutions.

Weak roots or being potted in a container that is too big for the plant are a couple of the main causes of a cactus drooping or toppling over. Other causes might include bugs, lack of sunlight, underwatering, and more.

I have a cactus; when should I spray it?

Please ensure that you are using safety gear and protecting your skin and eyes when handling any form of pesticide (goggles, gloves and long-sleeved clothing).

You can use one of two techniques to chemically control cacti and prickly pear bushes. You can chemically apply a herbicide to the plant’s stem or pad areas. Herbicides will be able to penetrate the plant and completely eliminate it.

We advise using a herbicide containing picloram, which can completely or nearly completely eradicate prickly pear and some other species of cacti.

Use an axe to cause the plant harm. This will make it easier for the herbicide to penetrate the cactus.

In a sprayer, mix up a Picloram herbicide spray mixture. Use 0.75 fl. oz. of Picloram 22K in 0.5 to 2.5 gallons of water to spot-treat an area of 1,000 square feet with a handheld sprayer. Use 4 quarts of Picloram for applications on acres. In order to identify plants that have been treated and determine if you are applying enough herbicide to the green stems or pads, we also advise adding a spray marking colour.

Spray the Picloram solution over both the pads’ and stems’ sides after it has been well mixed. There isn’t a specific time of year when you can spray, but if it’s too cold or the cacti are wet, the herbicide might not work as well. Spray until the cactus is moist but do not allow the solution to drop off the pads. Repeated treatments are required to guarantee complete eradication of the cactus.

What uses does the prickly pear cactus have?

The prickly pear cactus, often referred to as nopal, opuntia, and other names, is marketed as a remedy for hangovers, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. It is also praised for having anti-inflammatory and antiviral qualities.

Prickly pear cactus reproduction is how?

Exactly how does it breed? Both sexual and asexual reproduction are possible in the eastern prickly pear cactus. It produces fruit that contains seeds that are dispersed by small mammals and birds, and its blossoms are typically pollinated by insects. When pads separate from parent plants and establish roots, they are able to reproduce asexually.

Why isn’t the prickly pear cactus in my yard blooming?

I hope the soil you placed it in is free of too much organic matter and has good drainage. When people have problems growing this plant, root rot brought on by wet soil or a lack of sunlight are typically to blame. In general, this plant only needs full light and well-drained soil to thrive in central Texas. It’s also a smart idea to use the decomposed granite. A liltte (very little) compost could be added to the granite to improve it.

The patience aspect is now challenging. According to Mr. Smarty Plants’ experience, it usually takes this plant several years to bloom after it has been planted. The ones I see flowering around town are typically rather huge, indicating they have been there for a while. Your cactus may simply not be developed enough to bloom at this point. Allow some time.