Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa)
Preferring full sun and sandy, dry conditions, the Prickly Pear cactus is a must have for the driest parts of your garden. From June to July, the cactus puts out some of the most stunning flowers. Bathed in bright yellow, the 3" wide blooms are immediately descended upon by a myriad of different pollinator species. Beetles, bees, and butterflies, this plant attracts them all. After flowering the pads produce bright red, edible fruits that are almost as attractive as the flowers that preceded them. Typical of most cacti, the seeds in these edible fruits must ripen for a minimum of 9 months before they are ready to germinate.
Establishing this species is as easy as placing a few pads in a desired location. Cactus pads can be placed into sand, literally, cutting-side down, making it a very easy transplant. Within a few years, a thick creeping mat of cactus pads will cover the ground. Be careful when handling this species though, as the pads are covered in clusters of sharp bristles. A good pair of thick gloves is a must for anyone looking to do some gardening with this plant. It grows well with many short companion plants also suited to hot, dry conditions.
Life Cycle: Perennial
Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
Soil Moisture: Dry
Height: 6 inches
Bloom Time: June, July
Bloom Color: Yellow