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Tulip Prickly Pear Cactus*

Opuntia phaeacantha

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Tulip Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia phaeacantha) at Homestead Gardens

Tulip Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom

Tulip Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

* This is a "special order" plant - contact store for details

Height:  6 inches

Spread:  12 inches

Sunlight:  full sun 

Hardiness Zone:  8b

Other Names:  Desert Prickly Pear, Mojave Prickly Pear

Description:

This southwest native cactus produces orange-yellow flower buds that resemble a tulip; buds then fully open to sunny yellow blooms; excellent in containers or rock garden feature

Ornamental Features

Tulip Prickly Pear Cactus has lemon yellow flowers with red eyes at the ends of the stems in mid summer, which emerge from distinctive dark red flower buds, and which are interesting on close inspection. Its succulent round leaves remain green in color throughout the season. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Tulip Prickly Pear Cactus is an herbaceous perennial with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its relatively coarse texture can be used to stand it apart from other garden plants with finer foliage.

This plant will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should never be pruned except to remove any dieback, as it tends not to take pruning well. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Spiny

Tulip Prickly Pear Cactus is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Rock/Alpine Gardens
  • Border Edging
  • General Garden Use
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Tulip Prickly Pear Cactus will grow to be only 6 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 inches. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 5 years.

This plant should only be grown in full sunlight. It requires an extremely dry, well-drained growing location, and will usually die in standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for a low-water garden or xeriscape application. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in sandy soils. It is quite intolerant of urban pollution, therefore inner city or urban streetside plantings are best avoided. This species is native to parts of North America. It can be propagated by division.

Tulip Prickly Pear Cactus is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. It is often used as a 'filler' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination, providing a mass of flowers against which the larger thriller plants stand out. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

 

* This is a "special order" plant - contact store for details

 
 
Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Characteristics
Rock  Edging  Garden  Container 
Applications
Flowers  Texture 
Ornamental Features