When To Plant Prickly Pear Cactus

To do this, take a pad from the mother cactus that is at least six months old and detached individually. For at least a week, or until it scabs over, let the cut end “heal.” The pad can then be planted in a soil and sand combination, cut end down.

Cacti should be planted when?

Mid-May to late June or early July is the best window of opportunity for outdoor cactus planting. In order to give the soil time to settle, we advise preparing the soil 14 days prior to the intended planting date.

Prickly pear cactus growth is it challenging?

Growing prickly pears is simple. Once planted, they can thrive on rainfall and require well-drained soil. The plant has to be watered every two to three weeks while it is rooted. Consider the size the cactus will reach when selecting one, and plant it far from walkways and other places where people will come in contact with it. A warm, dry climate is necessary for successful prickly pear cultivation.

Prickly pears are simple to grow in your own garden. Quick and easy propagation from pads is possible. In reality, the pads are flattened, specialized stems. Six-month-old pads are taken out of the plant and placed in a dry location to allow the cut end to develop a callus for a few weeks. For prickly pear pad planting, a soil and sand mixture should be used in equal parts. Within a few months, the pad will develop roots. It need assistance at this time and shouldn’t be watered. After the pad is able to stand upright, it can be watered.

Cacti can be planted in the winter.

Cacti and succulents are excellent low-maintenance plants that add color to the home even on the gloomiest winter days. They provide aesthetic appeal to any table or windowsill with their unique forms and textures, and with proper care, they’ll last the entire long, cold season.

Cacti and succulents are suitable indoor plants all year round. Plants simply only a little light and sporadic watering during the winter. By the time fall arrives, the majority of cacti and succulents have gone dormant and will no longer grow as the weather and light conditions change.

5 Techniques for Winter Cactus and Succulent Care:

1. Plant your dormant plant in a location where it will flourish to make your cacti or succulents happy. During the winter, succulents require less light and can also tolerate indirect light. Make sure your plant receives at least three to four hours of bright light each day for the best results. Locations are happiest close to windows that face south or east.

2. Sandy, well-drained soil is best for growing succulents. Give your plant the nutrients it requires by using Espoma’s cacti and succulent mix. Make sure containers have drainage holes to allow extra water to drain because succulents can’t tolerate excessively moist soil.

3. Set the thermostat. Few succulents can withstand temperatures that are much colder than 50 to 55 degrees.

4. Succulents require deep watering, although they won’t need as much as they do during active growth. Use little water and only from the top, letting water seep through to the bottom. Keep plants out of water for brief periods of time. Keep water away from the cactus’ body since it can cause decay.

5. Look for vermin. Check your leaves every month for mealy bugs and aphids. If a plant is infected, remove it from the vicinity of other plants and spritz it with a solution of 3 parts rubbing alcohol to 1 part water.

In the winter, can I put my cactus outside?

Cactus plants that thrive in cold climates prefer many of the same environmental factors as their southern cousins, such as lots of light. Some of the most typical maintenance needs for cold-weather cacti are listed below.

How to Plant Cacti

Cacti need soil that drains fast, but pure sand shouldn’t be used because it doesn’t contain enough nutrients to support their growth. It is recommended to combine typical garden soil or topsoil with 40 to 60 percent coarse sand and up to 10 percent compost for a nutrient-rich, quick-draining mix when growing cacti. Fine-grain sand should be avoided since it can clog soil instead of improving drainage. Cactus plants should not have the soil around their shallow roots disturbed after planting. Pea gravel or other small rock mulch helps control weed growth, keeps the soil temperature constant, and protects soil from blowing away.

In order to offer optimum drainage, raised beds are advised. You need more drainage the more rain your area receives. Cacti should be grown in pots under cover, such as a roof overhang, in extremely moist areas. Cacti should never be planted on normal or clay soil since they are easily overwatered and will perish.

Watering Cacti

In the winter or fall, refrain from watering cacti. To get ready for the upcoming weather, cactus plants start to contract and seem withered and unappealing. This is a typical phase of their hibernating process; but, if you water them at this time, the extra water may freeze and destroy the plant.

The best strategy is typically to let Mother Nature take care of watering your cactus over the rest of the year. You can feel free to water your cactus, though, if there are several weeks in a row of hot, dry weather without any rain. The plants are probably trying to notify you they need water if the soil is completely dry and they appear limp or are starting to droop. Avoid watering the plant directly and properly soak the soil for the greatest effects.

Fertilizing Cacti

In-ground cactus plants don’t require a lot of fertilizer, although they can benefit from spring applications of compost or a liquid fertilizer made for use on vegetables or bulbs. Avoid fertilizers that contain a lot of nitrogen (the first number of the three shown on the package). Nitrogen promotes quick growth, but it can also make a plant too delicate and prone to winter damage, especially later in the growing season.

Protecting Cactus Plants

Contrary to popular belief, cold-hardy cacti can thrive in regions with a lot of snow. Cacti can, however, suffer from frostbite in regions with cold temperatures and strong winds but minimal snowfall. As late in the growing season as feasible, carefully wrap the plants in burlap to prevent damage. The burlap shields the plants from the sun, cold, and wind while allowing them to breathe. In order to protect the cactus plants from too much moisture during warmer winters, carefully erect a structure over them, such as a canvas tent.

Prickly pears can they endure winter?

The prickly pear prefers warm, dry weather just like any other cactus. Despite having a colder heart than most other cacti and being able to withstand temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, it will grow bigger (and flower more) when cultivated in warm environments.


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 fertilized with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. A water-soluble fertilizer 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 fertilizer 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.

What depth do prickly pear roots reach?


Cacti have shallow roots, with the average depths for their diverse native Sonoran Desert species ranging from 7 to 11 cm and 15 cm for cultivated opuntioids; the cultivated vine cactus Hylocereus undatus has even shallower roots.

Although this shallowness makes it easier to absorb water after light rains, it also exposes the roots to high temperatures near the soil surface.

Extreme temperatures reduced the uptake of the essential stain neutral red into root cortical cells, with 50% inhibition (LT50) occurring for Nopalea cochenillifera, Opuntia ficus-indica, and O. robusta at an average of 7C for low temperatures and 57C for high temperatures, and for H. undatus growing at a moderate day/night air temperature of 25/20C, at 2C and 52C, respectively. The opuntioid LT50s showed seasonal adaptation to changing ambient temperatures, declining 1.2C as day/night air temps were lowered by 20C and rising 4.4C as they were raised by 20C.

In order to measure root growth, respiration, and layers with deadly temperatures, an equation is proposed to estimate soil temperature as a function of soil depth and time.

In this regard, the ability of most cacti to be cultivated today and in the future should not be constrained by the roots’ sensitivity to low temperatures.

Although fewer cacti roots may be found in the topmost soil levels as a result of rising air and soil temperatures brought on by global climate change, other (non-CAM) perennials should experience far larger restrictions.

How are cacti planted in the ground?

Many claim that before beginning to grow cacti and other succulents, they could never keep plants alive. These plants are trying to live. They are typically simple to grow as long as they have good drainage, lots of sunlight, and protection from freezing temperatures. They are also evergreen, pest- and disease-free, and drought tolerant, making them attractive in the garden all year long. The list of top cacti and succulents for your Western garden is provided below, along with some of our most important advice for making your cactus garden a success.

The Best Varieties to Grow

There are numerous varieties that give appeal to your yard, such as agaves, aloes, and barrel cacti. See our picks for year-round, low-maintenance beauty.


Cactus should be wrapped in heavy carpet padding or foam while being brought home from the nursery. This guards against harm to both the plants and your skin. Make sure you also wear gloves.


Wearing thick leather gloves will shield your hands while you are working with cactus that have spikes. Some gardeners advise putting on two pairs of gloves—one pair of rose gloves and one pair of leather work gloves.

Plant Wisely

Similar to any other plant, cacti and other succulents can be planted. Create a hole that is 1.5 times as wide and as deep as the root ball. Take the plants out of the pot (wearing protective gloves and safety glasses). Put your plant within the opening. If necessary, you can fill the hole with granulated succulent and cactus plant food and mix it with the soil for the backfill. With well-draining modified soil, fill up the area surrounding the plant. Lightly tamp down the earth and moisten it. Spring, late summer (if your region gets freezes), or early fall are the best times to plant (in warmer climates).

Give Them Some Space

Make sure you allow those tiny succulents and cacti you bought at the nursery plenty of room because they can grow into big plants. Many also generate pups or offspring that grow into clumps resembling colonies.


A cactus can rot or die if it receives too much moisture. In order to monitor the soil’s moisture content and ensure that your cactus isn’t receiving too much water, stick your finger a few inches into the soil. There is no need to water if there is any moisture. Make sure your irrigation system also stops watering during rainy weather.


Use pots with drainage holes on the bottom for potting succulents or cacti. To assist prevent the drainage hole from being clogged, fill the bottom of the container with fragments from broken pots or a lot of pebbles. When planting, make sure to use a cactus mix that contains pumice since it improves drainage. Rocks can be used to create a beautiful impact and to keep soil in place.


Water plants on a regular basis using a drip system twice per week. Water can be used in very small quantities. In hotter months, hand-water plants as necessary.

Succulents and cacti still require sufficient water every three to five days until the plant roots are developed. Make sure to water your plants or check that your irrigation system is getting to the roots if there isn’t any rain.

After the first year, water less. You don’t need to water plants as frequently once they’ve established themselves. After the first year or two, many succulents and cacti can even stop receiving irrigation entirely. If they only receive rain, they will live and frequently thrive. Especially in the fall and winter, avoid watering.


Although fertilizing succulents and cacti is not required, some gardeners do it because it can promote faster growth and better flowering. A popular liquid plant food that may be applied in the spring and fall is Grow More Cactus Juice. It’s also acceptable to dilute the mixture before applying it if you fertilize frequently. After fertilizing, water the plants.

Provide Protection in Freezing Temperatures

Many cacti and succulents may survive in temperatures as low as 25 to 30 degrees without suffering any harm. However, some plants, such the ocotillo and Yucca rostrata (big bend yucca), can withstand temperatures as low as zero degrees. If your garden frequently experiences cold weather, be sure to choose hardy species or grow plants in containers that can be brought within for the winter.

Our Favorite Sources

Cacti and succulents can now be found in many different places. Start at a nursery in your neighborhood. There’s a good chance they have a good assortment or can guide you to a speciality grower.