Prickly Pear Plant - Opuntia Microdasys.

What You Need to Know About the Prickly Pear Plant – Opuntia Microdasys

This desert type, Mexican Opuntia, takes its common name, prickly pear, from its spiny, pear-shaped fruit, and naturally forms shrubby thickets 16—24 in. (40—60 cm) in height. Indoors, however, it tends to remain much more compact. It does not have ridges, but velvety-looking stem segments, reaching 2½—6 in. (6—15 cm) long.

These are covered by areoles packed with tiny golden or white, hooked bristles (glochids). It is grown for its shape and appearance, rather than its yellow flowers, which may not appear on indoor specimens. O. brasiliensis, from South America ultimately becomes treelike in the wild, growing to 30 ft. (9 m) or more, but it is unlikely to achieve this in the home.

It has a cylindrical trunk, which branches as it grows to produce flattened, oval, leaf like segments and pale yellow flowers.

Size: Height and spread 1 ft. (30 cm) in 10 years.

Light: Direct sunlight.

Temperature: Normal room; winter minimum 50°F (10°C).

Moisture: Keep soil moist (but never wet) from spring to fall. In winter apply only enough water to stop the soil drying out.

Feeding: Apply tomato fertilizer every two weeks in spring and summer.

Propagation: Detach segments by cutting or pulling from the parent plant in spring or summer, allow to dry for up to three days, then plant into small pots of cactus soil mix.

Special needs: The glochids are easily detached, even by the most gentle touch, and quickly penetrate the skin. They are highly irritant if left and should be removed as quickly as possible using adhesive tape.