When we think of cactus we often think hot and dry, maybe somewhere like Arizona, but not necessarily the buckeye state. It is exciting to see people's reaction when they learn they can grow a cactus in Ohio and that it will winter over and return year after year. The prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) performs well in full sun and extremely well drained soils. Plant placement is very important as moist or wet soils can pose significant problems. In a year like we have been experiencing, even the most ideal spots could be a little troublesome in 2019 with all of the rain we have been receiving.
The leaves are fleshy and include spines, usually found on the leaf edges. Spines are normally about 3/4 of an inch in length. While an attractive plant, the spines can present a challenge when planting, weeding or working around the plants.
The flowers are yellow, about 2 - 3 inches across, and borne toward the upper portion of the joints. Fruit will sometimes follow after the blooms. Fruits are dark red in color, and about 1 inch long.
An ideal location for prickly pear cactus in a dry rock garden, a sunny mixed border, or along a stone wall - again well drained is a must! If you have an ideal site and don't have prickly pear already, you might want to give it a try. It is definitely an attention-getter in the garden!