En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 07, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: No blooms on Spineless Prickly Pear in Austin
Answered by: Mike Tomme


I've had a spineless prickly pear planted in the shade for about 3 years. It has done just fine there, but has never bloomed. I recently moved it to a full sun location(I'm in north Austin) and covered the soil with decomposed granite, and know that it is in a bit of a shock and is rerooting now. I'm wondering when it might finally bloom, and what I might do help it along - will it finally bloom on its own after moving to proper conditions? Thanks!


There are three things required to produce blooms on Opuntia ellisiana (Spineless prickly pear):

1. Good sun

2. Well drained soil


3. Patience.

You have already taken an important step in moving it to a full sun location.

I hope the soil you planted it in is well drained and doesn't contain too much organic matter. When people have trouble growing this plant, the cause is usually  lack of sun or root rot caused by waterlogged soil. Full sun and well drained soil are generally all this plant needs to thrive in central Texas. The decomposed granite is also a good idea. The  granite could be amended with a liltte (very little) compost.

Now the hard part - the patience. It has been this Mr. Smarty Plants experience that it takes several years after being established for this plant to bloom and the ones I see blooming around town are generally pretty large indicating they've been there a while. I suspect your cactus is just not mature enough to produce blooms. Give it time.


From the Image Gallery

Spineless prickly pear
Opuntia ellisiana

Spineless prickly pear
Opuntia ellisiana

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Trimming freeze-damaged Agave Americana in Alvarado TX
April 08, 2010 - What is the best way to trim Agave Americana cactus? The freeze this winter when it snowed has caused the leaves to die towards the bottom of the plant.
view the full question and answer

Problems with Agave americana in Comfort TX
November 09, 2009 - We have lost a huge agave americana and are not able to find out what to do for our others. The one we lost was rotted or eaten (beetles?) at the base and the whole thing just fell over. We have a l...
view the full question and answer

Trimmng and fertilizing yucca
September 07, 2007 - Should I cut the stalks of the Yucca that have already bloomed or wait until they dry? How often should I fertilize?
view the full question and answer

Ravaged by snails
May 23, 2007 - Our Prickly Pear Cactus is being completely ravaged by snails. Is there something in my yard that could be attracting them? Is there something I can do to keep them off the plant? Also is is safe to...
view the full question and answer

Shriveling agave from Miami Florida
August 23, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Most upset - My beautiful agave (wish I could have submitted an image) has stared to misbehave. The once first liquid filled leaves, are starting to look more like the skin ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center