The spineless prickly pear is a beautiful evergreen cactus that is native to Texas. It can withstand scorching summer heat and drought, as well as winter temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prickly Pears are an easy going cactus. They prefer well drained soul, but I have found that they tolerate my clay soil just fine. They also love full sun and will reach their maximum growth potential planted facing west or south, but they will do okay if planted in part shade too.
The prickly pear produces edible pads, “nopales,” and will eventually bloom and fruit as it matures. The nutritious fruit is said to be good for digestion and a natural hangover remedy.
To get started growing your own spineless prickly pear you can either find a friend or a neighbor who has an established plant. Easy to do here in Texas, but if that’s not an option, I have some from my garden available HERE in my shop.
Don’t let the name spineless fool ya! The tiny thorns are extremely painful and hard to remove. I recommend wearing gloves and handling the pads between the “dots.”
If you live in zone 6 or colder, prickly pears may not be cold hardy, but can still be grown in pots and brought inside during winter.
To plant in a pot, mix one half potting soil with one half sand (play sand is what my local hardware store sells it as). Place prickly pear pad, pointed side down, into the soil until only the top round half is above soil level.
Leave the watering to Mother Nature for the first month. The pad has enough moisture stored to begin producing roots from each dot. After a month, water as needed which should be rarely unless growing indoors or you live in the desert.
I am always impressed with how tough these plants are and how quickly they start growing new pads!