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The Prickly pear is one of the largest species of cacti with a long history of use by indigenous cultures throughout the Southwest and Mexico. This species can eventually grow with an upright habit 10-18 ft. tall with with long medium green flattened pads, 12-18 in. long. Pale yellow to white flowers occur in spring and are followed by large edible fruit that are either red, orange or yellow in color. Bristle-like spines are common; different selections of this species are grown and will have greater or fewer spines.

Prickly pear is currently a popular species for agriculture and garden plantings in subtropical and Mediterranean climate zones around the world for its fruit. It is is also highly popular as a specimen and accent plant in Southwestern, Mediterranean and arid garden plantings within the Inland Empire. It is among our most drought-adapted plants that survives long periods of heat and drought by storing moisture in its thickened stems and pads.

Water Needs

Indian fig is well adapted to all parts of the Inland Empire in sunny exposures with normal winter rains and low amounts of summer irrigation. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains often provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates Indian fig can grow with varying amounts of water; little supplemental water is needed during summer.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 1

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Cacti
Foliage Character: Succulent
Habit: Upright, Spreading, Clumping
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 10 ft. - 18 ft.
Width: 10 ft. - 18 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Pale green
Flower Color: Yellow, White
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Drought, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Specimen, Slopes, Screening, Rock gardens, Flowering accent plant, Background plant


Can be pruned, if needed, for cuttings or size control any time of year, but ideally in spring (D). If pruning, always cut at pad "joints" (S).



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