The prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) is a cactus that produces delicious sweet fruits . It is mainly found in desert environments, but it is possible to grow in pots in our latitudes. Discover all our tips for growing prickly pears.

Summary

  • Where and when to grow prickly pear?
  • Sowing and germination
  • The interview
  • Garden diseases and pests
  • Harvest

Where and when to grow prickly pear?

Although native to the desert, this plant has good hardiness (down to -25°C). Indeed, the deserts can be very cold during the night. It will still be necessary to choose a place in full sun for your pot. The ideal period for the plant is in spring or summer . In pots, the substrate should be made up of 2/3 potting soil and 1/3 sand. Don’t forget clay pebbles for drainage.

prickly pear fig
Credits: Candice Estep / iStock

Sowing and germination

The seeds are harvested directly from the prickly pear (the fruit), but you can also find them in garden centres. Before sowing the seeds, they must be germinated. To do this, place them individually in boxes that you will fill with soil from the month of March. Store the boxes in a greenhouse heated to a minimum of 20°C . Spray the potting soil with water to keep it cool.

Germination is rather long, of the order of several weeks, even several months. Be patient with your pain! If patience is not your forte, we recommend propagating prickly pear by cuttings .

The interview

Opuntia ficus-indica does not require much maintenance, or at least nothing difficult. All you need is a generous weekly watering during the summer . Leave the soil to dry out between two waterings.

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During the winter, water once a month and stop completely when temperatures drop below 10°C.

Keep the potted subject sheltered during the winter then take it out to the garden, exposing it gradually to the sun to avoid burns.

You will have the chance to observe beautiful solitary funnel-shaped flowers, yellow or orange in color. However, these are temporary! Indeed, they only appear for a single day before quickly giving way to fruits.

prickly pear fig
Credits: Gregory Clifford / iStock

Garden diseases and pests

It sometimes happens that one of the racquets becomes soft. In this case, it is probably excess water! Remember to empty the cup to avoid water stagnation.

On the parasitic side, mealybugs can make life difficult for your cacti They are identified by small white clusters all over the plant. To get rid of it, use a solution based on black soap diluted in water.

Harvest

The prickly pear is harvested in summer when it is very yellow or purple depending on the variety. This particularly sweet fruit is protected by a prickly skin. Peel the fruit taking care not to hurt yourself and enjoy the fruit as it is!

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Amazing & Bizarre

Amazing & Bizarre is a gardening blog dedicated to curious gardeners and lovers of rare plants. Find all our natural gardening advice, our culture sheets, our original cooking recipes, our DIY tips and our creative ideas!

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