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Creative Fun Facts About The Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Blooming

Can you imagine eating a bumblebee?  My Dad accidentally ate one year ago (I need to blog that story) at a Church picnic.  I wonder if it is like eating a prickly pear cactus even though Dad said it is like pepper. In this post, I share some creative facts about the prickly pear cactus. 

About Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus, Opuntia humifusa
Prickly Pear in My Dome Greenhouse

To clarify any confusion about prickly pear cactus I’ve put together this informative list.  In case you need more information about this plant you are encouraged to check out local extension offices in your area. 

  • Opuntia humifusa or the devils tongue are other names for this cactus
  • This cactus can grow in hardiness zones as low as 2.
  • The Prickly Pear Cactus is Protected by sharp spines it is actually a tender and delicious treat.
  • This family contains about 1,800 species most all are can be found today.
  • The Prickly Pear Cactus can survive the freezing temperatures of the north because of special antifreeze chemicals in its cells.
  • Flowers are produced at the ends of pads in early summer. Mine bloomed within a few weeks of planting the cuttings I received at the Wood County Plant Swap.
  • The plant is protected out in the wild by law so do not disturb if you see growing in the desert.

Prickly Pear Growing At Home

The photo below is one of the prickly pear cactus that came from a plant swap in Wood County.  This piece was from the first year I grew it in my home garden.  The plant grows super easy and it is fun to propagate to share with others.

NOTE: handle the plant with caution because the spines or needles are painful.  Even while wearing gloves the spines can easily get into your skin and cause irritation.  

Brens Cactus Display

Hard to believe you can grow such a fascinating plant from seed but it is true.  It is much easier to propagate from pads of the prickly pear cactus.  Simply but very carefully, cut a pad that is at least six months old. Allow the pad from the cactus to form a callus. This process may take a week in warm weather and longer when the air is moist. When planting the pad, settle it upright about an inch deep in a well-drained medium. A mixture of equal parts of soil and sand or bag of pumice is recommended. Planting the pad too deeply will encourage rot.  Once the plant is established you can water it. After the first watering let the plant remain dry in full sun area.

Articles Featuring My Prickly Pear Cactus


Prickly Pear Cactus Growing In Ohio Landscape

My first sighting of the prickly pear growing in Ohio was on a Garden Tour.  I couldn’t believe my eyes in Cleveland Ohio During the APLD tour 2014.   APLD is short for the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. Touring with this group during their annual event in Cleveland Ohio is truly and honor.  The tours garden list is one of a kind.

Prickly Pear Cactus Sightings

The prickly pear grows in some fascinating places.  Below are a few of the gardens you can find this plant.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Below is a photo I took while touring the Master Gardener Orchard – University of Nevada Cooperative Extension in Las Vegas.

Nevada Greenhouse Prickly Pear Cactus

In search of anything green in Las Vegas besides Lantana and palm trees, I found myself on the outskirts of town.  I had no idea this was the Master Gardener facility.  Luckily, I was spying through the gate as a master gardener was arriving to do the daily watering. The prickly pear cactus plants stood out because they were sitting in the hot desert sun on the outside of the greenhouse.

Germany – Munich Botanical Gardens

Prickly Pear Cactus in German
Munich Botanical Garden in Germany

While visiting Germany with my husband we spend an afternoon at the Munich Botanical Garden.  On a cold autumn day we walked about the greenhouses and conservatory. I can’t get over how many cacti they call this place home including the prickly pear cactus.

New Mexico

New Mexico Cactus Wild
Prickly Pear Cactus Growing Wild

At a rest stop in New Mexico while sight-seeing on Rt. 66 the prickly pear cactus is growing wild.   Below are some of the photos from the rest stop area my husband and I stopped to enjoy the view and stretch our legs.  I actually got too close to the prickly pear cactus growing wild in some shade at the rest stop and it poked my foot.  I had to have my husband get the thorn out... OUCH! 

Prickly Pear in Shade
Cactus in the Shade of New Mexico

Prickly Pear At The Market

At most Mexican markets you can find the prickly pear pads for sale.  I LOVE how this market has it’s signage correct: 

no pulg a espino Means Don’t Pick the Hawthorns

Let’s Connect

Share your story with me on my website contact page. Don’t forget to share this prickly Pear Content on the social media links provided.

Happy Creative Prickly Pear Cactus Growing (you got this),

4 Responses

  1. Since moving to Texas I have to admit I have a weakness for the prickly pear. It grows quickly, has gorgeous flowers and some years lots of fruits. I never remember seeing it growing in gardens in the north.

    1. Thank you for stopping by my site Jenny. I love hearing about Texas gardens especially after spending some time down there last Spring. Amazing all the different things you can grow in that amazing state. I NEVER personally thought of growing cactus in Ohio until I got my cutting from the lLocal plant swap this past Spring. I was so excited to bring this home and give it a try in my dome. I have a piece of it outside to see if it will survive the winter. I’ll keep you posted! THis is a photo of my cactus pads I got from the swap. I am not sure why I had them floating in water in the dome but they really like it!

    1. Thank you Lisa! I appreciate the feedback and I really need to share more photos of my trip to Munich Botanical. You would love the houseplants in the greenhouse. Happy Gardening.

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