More familiar as prickly pear or beavertail prickly pear cactus, Opuntaria basilaris is a clumping, spreading cactus with flat, grayish-green, paddle-like leaves. Although this prickly pear cactus adds year-round interest, it absolutely glows with brilliant rose-purple blooms open in spring and early summer. Have we piqued your curiosity? Read on for more beavertail prickly pear information.
Beavertail Prickly Pear Info
Native to the deserts of the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico, beavertail prickly pear is well suited for rock gardens, cactus gardens or xeriscape landscapes in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 and above.
Growing beavertail cactus in containers is perfect for a sunny patio or deck. However, you’ll need to bring the plant indoors during the winter if you live in a chilly northern climate.
Beavertail prickly pear cactus is generally disease-free, deer and rabbit proof and requires very little care. The blooms attract hummingbirds and songbirds, as well as a variety of bees and other beneficial insects.
One of these remarkable plants can bear hundreds of fleshy leaves. Although the leaves are spineless, they are covered with formidable barbed bristles.
Beavertail Cactus Care
Growing a beavertail cactus is extremely easy, as long as you provide full sunlight and nearly any type of well-drained, sandy or gravelly soil. Here are a few tips on the care of beavertail prickly pear:
Plant prickly pear cactus away from walkways and picnic areas. The bristly spines are extremely irritating to the skin.
Water a newly planted cactus every two to three weeks. Thereafter, no supplemental irrigation is required. Never allow the plant to sit in soggy, poorly drained soil.
Fertilizer generally isn’t needed. However, you can apply a dilute solution of a water-soluble occasionally during spring and summer.
Remove pads, if necessary, to control size and spread. You can also remove dead pads to keep the plant vibrant and attractive. (Wear gloves!)
Propagate a new beavertail prickly pear cactus by removing a pad. Set the pad aside for a couple of days until a callus develops on the cut end, then plant the pad in a mixture of half soil and half sand.