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The Prickly pear is a large species of cactus with distinctive round pale green to light gray pads. These circular pads can reach 18 in. in dia. and are protected by a grid pattern of long sharp spines. This species can eventually reach 12-15 ft. high.

Prickly pear is native to Mexico and is widely adapted to hot and sunny conditions throughout the Inland Empire. It performs well as a sculptural accent plant in both Mediterranean and southwestern style plantings. It easily grows in containers, raised planters and in rock gardens with other succulents.

Water Needs

Prickly pear 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 Prickly pear 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: Slow
Height: 12 ft. - 15 ft.
Width: 12 ft. - 15 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Pale green
Flower Color: Yellow
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Drought, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Specimen, Slopes, Rock gardens, Flowering accent plant, Container 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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