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

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Saturday - November 03, 2012

From: rockville centre, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Planting, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Can a prickly pear cutting from Harker Heights, TX find happiness in Long Island, NY.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Took a cutting of a prickly pear cactus from my daughters garden in Harker Heights, Tx. Her plants are 5'ht.& wt. Set it into a 10" pot with garden mix soil. Early July 2012, brought it home to Long Island, N.Y. Doing well, doubled in size, still in pot. Can I plant it in my garden, will it survive snowy, low temps. of this region? What can I do to help it along. Thanks,

ANSWER:

Prickly pear cactus is in the genus Opuntia, and there are  over 40 species of Opuntia listed in Texas. I am supposing that the one you have may be Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri (Texas pricklypear) which was designated by the Texas Legislature as the state plant of Texas in 1995.

One solution is to leave it in the pot, and  move it inside during the winter months, but it will soon get to big for that. The plant is used to growing in USDA hardiness zone 8 (average minimum temperatures from 10 -20 degrees fahrenheit). Long Island is in USDA Hardiness zone 7 (average minimum temperatures of  0 - 10 degrees fahrenheit) so that would present a problem. If you can plant it in a protected area i.e. south side of the house, and cover it during the coldest nights, it might survive. Be sure that it has well drained, slightly acidic soil.

The mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes by growing native plants where they are native.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas prickly pear
Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri

Texas prickly pear
Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri

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