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The Plant Guide

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Eastern prickly pear cactus

Opuntia compressa

Prickly pear cactus is a clump-forming and semi-prostrate plant. Flattened round-to-oval green pads 2-10 inches across have scattered needle-like spines and tufts of glochids (bristles). Showy bright yellow flowers appear in late spring and summer, maturing to edible, pulpy, red or purple fruit.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsBristles cause intense skin irritation and are difficult to remove. This plant becomes scraggly as the pads lose water before winter, greening up again in spring.

CareEasy to grow in dry, sandy, or gravelly soil. Tolerates clay soil with good drainage. Naturalizes by pads breaking off and rooting.

PropagationFrom separated root stem segments.

ProblemsCladode rots, zonate leaf spot, black spot, mealybugs, and scale insects. Also bacterial soft rot and viruses.

  • Genus : Opuntia
  • Plant Width : 1 to 3 feet
  • Zones : 11
  • Plant Height : 6 to 12 inches
  • Plant Type : Cacti and Succulents
  • Moisture : Dry
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Bloom Time : Spring, Summer
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Summer Interest
  • Flower Color : Yellow
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