Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

QUESTION:

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!

ANSWER:

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

1. Good sun

2. Well drained soil

and

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

Will a cut back yucca grow back in Lockbourne OH?
October 28, 2009 - I live in Ohio and recently I cut back all my plants to prepare for winter. I am wondering if my Yuccas will grow back. I cut them to ground level so only a little bit of the leaf is showing. I was...
view the full question and answer

Soaptree yucca falling over in Mesa AZ
July 24, 2013 - My soaptree yucca is about 5 ft tall and has fallen over. Does this plant require staking for I thought not, or is something else going on with it?
view the full question and answer

Black rot at center of Agave from Clovis CA
May 12, 2013 - We have some beautiful variegated "Green & Cream" Agave plants in our cactus garden. One in particular has done quite well for several years and is the largest, about 18" tall & across, it has neve...
view the full question and answer

Problems on Prickly Pear Cactus in Illinois
November 19, 2014 - I have a fungus on my prickly pear cactus that is not a bug. I tested it and my fingers didn't turn red when I squeezed them. So how do I get rid of this as it is spreading to my other cacti?
view the full question and answer

When should cochineal bugs be on prickly pear cactus?
January 05, 2012 - I am a fibers artist that would like to harvest the cochineal bugs from the prickly pear cactus. I would like to know what time of year should I expect to find the cochineal bugs around the Austin ar...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.