Prickly pear

dapjwyApril 22, 2008

I inherited some prickly pear cactus that the former owner of my house has in a flowerbed. I've never seen it grow in the wild and would love to replicate the natural conditions in which it would be found. I understand it is found in the Delaware Gap area (which I have yet to visit).

Can anyone describe companion plants found growing with Prickly Pear? In what conditions does it normally grow? Any pictures of it in a wild area?

Thank you.


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Your eastern species needs full sun all day and a well draining soil. One that is probably sandy and rocky or gravelly. Check the link below to see images of plants in situ.

Here is a link that might be useful: Opuntia humifusa

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 8:58PM
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One sight that I will never forget is a sheer wall of Opuntia near Petersburg WV. We were coming down the mountain from the wilderness area known as Dolly Sods. The cacti was all yellow with bloom. It was growing in shale gravel, no other plants.
I have also seen it in the sandy dunes of the Coastal Plain. In these xeric areas few other plants are growing, perhaps bayberry.
You can grow it in heavier soil but it is a constant weeding project. I guess you know that the little spines are like harpoons.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2008 at 9:21PM
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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I have seen prickly pear mostly near the coast in dunes that are growing in with plants like Little bluestem, bayberry, blueberries, huckleberries, and oaks. It grows in full sun, and very well drained, sandy soils, at least in the places I have seen it.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 8:31AM
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We have some growing in the crevices of some glacial rock (or maybe on top of the rock?). I can't say if the ones we have are native or not but they survive the winters just fine. There are some acid loving shrubs close by. All of this was intentionally planted in prior generations. The location is a couple of miles inland from the east coast. I don't know whether any of this mimics natural conditions or not.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 1:43PM
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Thanks to all who responded. I can't believe it took me this long to check back--actually I was looking for something else I'd posted.

I appreciate all the feedback. You've given me a few ideas.

I did move some of it to a rock outcropping near where I'm also trying to establish lowbush blueberry and little bluestem.

I am still wondering if it is native to my area this far from the coast.

Here is a link that might be useful: A Native Backyard

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 11:06PM
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