A very attractive species, Opuntia santarita (Santa Rita Prickly Pear) is an upright, bushy succulent shrub with colorful, round, ovate, fleshy pads. Covered with spines, the pads turn rich purple in winter before changing back to soft blue gray with warmer temperatures. This purple pad coloration also intensifies in direct sunlight and drought. Sitting on the outer edges of the pads, large multi-petalled, yellow flowers appear in spring, creating a stunning contrast with the purple pads. They are followed by small edible purple fruits that are highly attractive to birds. Frost hardy, Santa Rita Prickly Pear is a very decorative cactus which adds beauty to the garden year-round.
- Typically grows up to 6-8 ft. tall (180-240 cm) and 8-10 ft. wide (240-300 cm).
- Performs best in full sun or light shade, in well-drained soils. This plant tolerates a wide variety of soils as long as they are well-draining. During the first growing season, water twice per month in summer, once per month in winter. Drought tolerant once established.
- This low-maintenance plant is a great choice for xeriscape gardens, rock gardens, Mediterranean gardens and cactus gardens.
- This remarkable plant is deer resistant, tolerates urban pollution and is easy to care for.
- Generally disease-free. Watch for cochineal scale or mealy bugs.
- Propagate from woody stem cuttings or from seed.
- Native to the American Southwest into Mexico.