Opuntia or commonly known as prickly pear cactus, is a kind of cactus that can be consumed by people and herbivores. It is such a surprising fact that this prickly plant can be edible!
Originated from the Americas, you can find prickly pear cactus all over the world nowadays as decorative plants. Because of its unique shape and colors, this cactus has become popular among indoor gardeners. Even beginners will be able to keep it because it requires minimum maintenance.
And now we are going to teach you how to take care of prickly pear cactus so they can grow well!
Adaptation of Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly pear cactus has evolved to live in desert and arid areas. Instead of leaves, this plant is covered in thorns. Its prickles are used to prevent evaporation. The thorns are narrower than leaves so less water will get evaporated.
Furthermore, the thorns are also there to protect the plant from predators. In fact, there are not many animals that would dare to take a bite into prickly pear cactus!
The stem of the cactus is typically narrow and slender. The shape of the stem allows the plant to further reduce the evaporation rate. Some species will grow into weird shapes and produce some unusual silhouettes. Each prickly pear cactus will have different shapes, depending on how they grow, making them look very artistic.
The other special characteristic of this plant is its smooth and fleshy stem. It serves as a water bank because the fibrous stem can store a lot of water.
It can collect so much water the larger it grows. As a result, they can survive in very barren desserts. Prickly pear cactus also has a unique metabolism. It absorbs carbon dioxide at night and uses it for photosynthesis or metabolism during the day.
Prickly pear cactus’s root is very large and can spread around, covering an extensive area. The strong roots allow the plant to look for water and expand water absorption.
Prickly Pear Cactus Growth Stages
If some of you wish to grow this plant, you must take different precautions. It is very different compared to other houseplants. After all, prickly pear cactus lives in barren soil. Typical plants will love moist soil but not this cactus!
This plant doesn’t need much water, but it requires more exposure to sunlight, at least six hours per day. However, if you live in a super-hot area, you might want to place them facing to the west or south in the window to prevent scalding from direct sun.
Prickly pear cactus grows on soil that has porous soil. Why? Because they usually live in a place with little water in the ground. The water reserve is propagated deep underground. As a result, the cactus has adapted its root to grow in this type of soil.
If the prickly pear cactus absorbs too much water, its stem and roots may start to rot. Prickly pear cacti grow easily on sand and gravel. Nevertheless, because of their hardy nature, they can adapt themselves depending on their environment if you give the sometimes.
Because prickly pear cactus grows better in barren soil than in moist soil, you do not want to water it too often. You guys just have to give a little bit of water to make the soil not too dry. You do not want to soak the plant and soil.
It only needs little rainfall to make the soil wet, just like how it grows naturally in its native habitat.
While most prickly cacti grow well in hot dessert, several species have a tolerance to colder temperatures and humid soil.
Please note that prickly pear cactus doesn’t need fertilizer! This is why this plant is perfect for beginner gardeners who want to keep their first indoor houseplants! There is little to no maintenance.
When Do Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom
Yes, despite its thorny appearance, the prickly pear cactus can produce some of the most beautiful flowers! They usually will bloom in the summer.
The color varies from red to yellow, depending on the species. The cactus produces large flowers that will look really stand out compared to its green stem. A blooming cactus flower is one of the marvelous sights to behold.
While keeping prickly pear cactus alive is easy, getting them to produce flowers can be tricky. You need to make sure you mimic its natural environment to stimulate flowering.
Types of Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly pear cactus is also called Opuntia. Opuntia is one of the genera in the family of cactus (cachaca). Anyway, these are several species of Opuntia:
This type of opuntia is considered to be rare. Its habitat is in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, which borders the Isabella Islands.
This cactus has beautiful flowers with a slightly different shape from other opuntias. The flowers bloom around June to July. It has fruit that is red to orange in color. You can eat the fruit! This opuntia comes from eastern North America. Also known as devil’s tongue, prickly pear, or Indian fig.
This Opuntia was first discovered in Spain. It also has large round-leaved prickly pear.
This opuntia is found in West Texas precisely on. This opuntia grows to a height of up to 100 cm, so it is quite large. The petals are yellowish cream, a stunning specimen when they bloom simultaneously out in the dessert.
This opuntia is found in the southwest united states. It has medium to small size and has rose pink petals flower!
Ok, everybody, those all several species from Opuntia, one of the genus members of the cactus family (Cactaceae). Family Cactaceae come from ordo Caryophyllales.
Caryophyllales come from the Magnoliopsida class, division of Magnoliophyta, Kingdom of Plantae.
How Often Do You Need to Water Prickly Pear Cactus
For those of you guys who keep cacti, you should know how to water and how frequently you should water them. In the dry season and summer, you need to water it regularly. It must be done once a week or more. You can water it by just moistening the soil. No need to touch the plants
You don’t need to water it regularly when the rainy season comes. Instead, you have to check that the soil is neither too dry nor too wet.
Now that you have mastered how to take care of prickly pear cactus, you might be interested to learn how to grow tomatoes!