Drought Tolerant Plants Southwest

Prickly pear cactus

Prickly pear cactus (Genus Opuntia). This is a very hardy plant in the southwest. Very drought tolerant and easy care cactus. Plant them and you can basically leave them alone.

These are considered no water plants and great for rock or desert type landscapes.

Prickily pear cactus

Prickly pear cactus

Prickly pear cactusMany folks think the prickly pear will not develop any problems, but they will. Overwatering is the biggest mistake most folks do. You should water about once per week during the first month after initial planting do not water after that! No, Really never water again.

Prickly Pear Cactus do not like fertilizer, however, you can use it at half the recommended ratio if it is having problems growing.  Be sure to use cactus soil mix when planting in the ground or in a container, ask for it at your local Nursery retail store.

How to care for your prickly pear cactus.  They can get diseases, insects, and fungus just like other heavy water usage plants. Mealybugs, cactus scale, and mites are two of the biggest concerns for this plant. However, you can treat them basically the same as regular watering shrubs.

Large yellow, red or purple flowers that lay on the edges of the spine-covered pads usually blooms after a good summer rainfall. In the winter the pads turn to rich purple color and return to a soft blue-gray with warmer weather.

Orange Blooming Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly pear cactus plant

Plant them where you want privacy or to help keep animals and people away.  This cactus needs no water after initial planting. Almost no maintenance what-so-ever.  You can give them extra water during drought years.  Doing so will give them a spurt of growth.

Yellow Blooming Prickly Pear Cactus

prickly pear cactus

They will do well in a rock garden or Xeriscape landscape.

Are you having problems with your prickly pear cactus? You can always ask Gary or Paul…He knows desert plants and he can almost always tell you what might be the problem. Just click here and ask your question.

Prickly pear cactus
Purple Prickly Pear Cactus

How to Care for your Prickly Pear Cactus

Don’t water it.  Most folks over water this cactus and you only have to water it at initial planting.  After that do not water.   If your cactus is in a container you should water occasionally about once per month tops.  You can use organic fertilizer if it looks yellow. Purchase cactus juice to help with growth and greener color.

It is susceptible to mealybugs.  These insects will attack cactus especially the prickly pear.  Mealybugs are small insects that look similar to small bunches of cotton.

Learn how to remove mealybugs by visiting this page.  Insects and Diseases on plants. 

Color Your World Nursery Located in Las Cruces, NM will usually carry the prickly pear cactus. Be sure to ask for them at your local retail/wholesale nursery.

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