Cold Hardy Cactus Part One Opuntia

Lots of people are interested in growing Cold Hardy Cactus. Many people are surprised to find out that Cold Hardy Cactus thrive and are native to many northern states such as Ohio, Michigan and Indiana and parts of Canada. Besides ornamentation Cactus fruits are harvested for human consumption and the stems are also used for many dishes. There are a number of genuses in the Cactus family that have representatives that are cold hardy in USDA Zone 6 and even colder climates. One of the larger genuses is Opuntia. I will cover several species of this genus in this blog post.

Opuntia_phaeacantha
Opuntia phaeacantha

The first species I will cover is Opuntia phaeacantha commonly called the Tulip Prickly Pear. It is native to northern Mexico the US Southwest, the Rocky Mountains as far north as Colorado and the Great Plains as far north as South Dakota. From its natural distribution it could be inferred that this species is hardy to at least USDA Zone 5 and possibly 4B. It has yellow flowers with red centers but the flowers can be pinkish or reddish in color as well. It blooms from spring through early summer. The fruit is edible and is red or purple in color. The whole plant including the fruits are covered with little spikes which can break off and get into the skin. The plant is shrubby and can form thickets in its native habitat. It can grow from 1′ to a little over 3′ in height. It can tolerate a variety of soil acidity and prefers a well-drained course soil. Sandy Loam is a good mix for this plant. It prefers full to partial sun.

Here is a link if you wish to purchase this plant from Amazon. Please be aware that I  receive a small commission if you make a purchase which helps support the costs of running this website.

(Opuntia_polyacantha
(Opuntia polyacantha

Opuntia polyacantha commonly called the Plains or Panhandle Pricklypear. It is native from northern Mexico to Alberta Canada. The flowers are yellow to orangish. It blooms from late spring through early summer. It has dry fibrous fruits. The plant can form small thickets. Hardiness can vary based on where the plant originates. It is a good guess that this is a USDA Zone 5 or 4B Hardy plant. It usually is under a foot tall. It prefers full to partial sun. Like most cactus it prefers a sandy/gravelly soil.

Opuntia_humifusa
Opuntia humifusa

Opuntia humifusa commonly called Devils Tongue. This is a plant with a large native range. it is native from New Mexico to Florida and into parts of southern Canada. The flowers are usually a shade a yellow. It blooms in the late spring. It has red edible fruits. It can form large clumps over time. It can range from just a few inches above the ground to close to 2 feet high. This plant appears by its range to be hardy to USDA Zone 4B. It prefers full to partial sun. Like most cactus it prefers a sandy/gravelly soil.

Here is a link if you wish to purchase this plant from Amazon. Please be aware that I  receive a small commission if you make a purchase which helps support the costs of running this website.

Opuntia_fragilis
Opuntia fragilis

Opuntia fragilis commonly called Brittle Pricklypear. This plant is native from New Mexico to northern Alberta Canada. It is probably the hardiest cactus being able to comfortably survive in USDA Zone 4 and likely into Zone 3. It blooms from late spring into summer. It forms a low mat close to the ground and seldom gets more than 5 inches tall. It prefers full sun but tolerates a moderate amount of shade. Like most cactus it prefers a sandy/gravelly soil.

Opuntia macrorhiza this is another cactus commonly called the Plains or Panhandle Pricklypear it is also called Western Pricklypear. This plant is native from New Mexico to the northern Midwest. This is a very hardy cactus possibly into USDA Zone 3. The flowers are yellow. It blooms from the end of spring through midsummer. It has red edible fruits. It forms a low mat and usually will not get higher than a foot in height. It can spread quite a bit over time. It prefers full sun. Like most cactus it loves sandy soils/gravelly soils but it can tolerate a fair amount of clay as well as long as there is decent drainage.

Here is a link if you wish to purchase this plant from Amazon. Please be aware that I  receive a small commission if you make a purchase which helps support the costs of running this website.

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