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Care of the plant Opuntia phaeacantha or Desert prickly pear.

Care of the cactus Opuntia phaeacantha or Desert prickly pear

The genus Opuntia, family Cactaceae, includes about 300 species of cacti native to Mexico, USA, and Central and South America. Some species are: Opuntia phaeacantha, Opuntia ficus-indica, Opuntia linguiformis, Opuntia leucotricha, Opuntia engelmannii, Opuntia bergeriana, Opuntia santa-rita, Opuntia rufida, Opuntia robusta, Opuntia microdasys, Opuntia durangensis, Opuntia subulata, Opuntia polyacantha, Opuntia lindheimeri, Opuntia atrispina, Opuntia auberi, Opuntia valida, Opuntia macrocentra, Opuntia chlorotica, Opuntia vestita, Opuntia spinulifera.

Common names: Desert prickly pear, Tulip prickly pear, Brown-spined prickly-pear. This species is native to USA.

They are bushy cactus with bluish-green oval segments that reach 2 meters (6.56 feet) in height. The small areolas have brown glochids and 2-5 long spines up to 7 cm (2.75") in length. The flowers are 7 cm (2.75") in diameter and yellow. The reddish fruits reach 6 cm (2.36") in length.

They are used in rockeries, on dry slopes, to create impenetrable screens and as isolated specimens. They are ideal for Mediterranean coastal gardens.

Opuntia phaeacantha needs full sun exposure and a hot, dry climate. Resists light frosts down to -3 ºC (26.6 ºF).

The soil can be a commercial cactus substrate or a mixture, in equal parts, of coarse siliceous sand and leaf mulch.

Water moderately, waiting for the substrate to dry completely. They resist drought very well.

Fertilize once in spring with mineral fertilizer for cacti.

Prune dry segments in mid-spring or for cuttings.

They are sensitive plants to excess humidity.

They are easily propagated by segment cuttings and from spring sown seeds. 

Images of the cactus Opuntia phaeacantha or Desert prickly pear

Opuntia phaeacantha