Friday, July 3, 2009

Prickly Pear Blooms

I've had my prickly pears for several years now and just love them. In fact I did a whole post on them my first year of doing this blog. Despite being dug up due to a waterline install, run over by a sleepy driver, and planted in an inhospitable spot practically in asphalt, these prickly pear plants thrive.

I was happy just to have to them live but with all the new growth they've put on I am delighted! So much new growth that for the first time in two years I have blooms! I was in shock because I never expected them to bloom. Why you ask? Because they are growing in a lot of shade and have been abused over the last few years. But just look at this bloom (one of only two)!

This bloom is so yellow and quite a substantial bloom. I enjoyed it very much for the one day it made it's appearance. Now I expect I'll get a purple fruit in its place in a few weeks time. Look closely inside of it and what do you see? (Enlarge for a better view of the pollen and bee) Not only pollen but one of the prickly pears pollinators, the halictid bee (aka sweat bees). I was most happy to see nature at work and making sure this lovely native plant survives and goes on and on.

Mr. Fix-it and the Jimster thought it would be funny to buy some canned prickly pear since I like them so the garden. Yup, there is such a thing. We all gamely tried it and all I can say is yuck! No amount of vinegar will make it palatable in my book, however, if you like seaweed, it might be to your liking. So take a word of warning, it is an acquired taste I think.

Who grows prickly pear? Does yours bloom each year? Ever eaten prickly pear?

in the garden....

Everyone have a great and SAFE 4th of July!


  1. You have a fab 4th Juy, too! I had never seen these prickly pears before so thanks for the intro. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  2. Prickly pears sure have large pollen, very beautiful. I don't have it in my garden, but sure don't mind to get one.

  3. Never heard of 'em before but I think I have seen these flower somewhere... May be I know this... Happy July 4, Tina. Enjoy your holidays!

  4. Happy 4th to you as well! What a magnificent bloom on your prickly pear. In Williamsburg there is a Mexican restaurant and out front on the bank of land by the road there is a mass planting of them.Never got close enough to see how wonderful the bloom is. Great photo.

  5. Just your description of how that tastes Tina ... eeeuuuwww ! LOL
    Would you believe we have a cactus that grows in Ontario ? .. it survives our winters and that is saying something .. but I don't think anyone eats them ? LOL

  6. Saw many of these while living in Texas. I see a few here as well. They have such a pretty bloom but dont touch. The bee makes me sweat just looking at it! They sure can put a sting on the body. lol...

    Amazing how the pear has made a comeback with being so mistreated by the sleepy driver. Hope he learned his lesson and does not drive while tired in the future or he may not fair as well the next time...

    We are off to visit family for the 4th and celebrate a 75 birthday!

    Everyone have a wonderful 4th and watch out for flying bottle rockets. Arggg, I hate the things and am glad fireworks are illegal in GA....

  7. Cool, Tina. My prickly pear bloomed unexpectedly this year too!! The flowers were amazing! Cactus flowers always astound me because they look soft, velvety and delicate, the opposite of their hard prickly paddles. I've only eaten prickly pear one time at an expensive Mexican restaurant, sliced on a salad, memorable and delicious! I hope you get fruit!

  8. Tina, as gardeners, we live for thise surprise blooms don't we! I am so glad they have survived and even started to thrive in your area. It's a little cold for them here though. Have a great 4th!

  9. Perhaps it will taste better prepared fresh. There are some vegetables that taste awful out of a can - they loose texture and the taste changes!
    I see there are lots of recipes on the internet :-)

  10. A lot of people around my area grow Prickly Pear, but I have not. It does seem to be extremely diehard!

    Have a Happy Fourth!

  11. ACIL, Greetings from the USA on this Independence day weekend. You have a great one.

    VueJardin, If you know anyone close by that has some they would be happy to give it to you. All you do is cut off a top 'pad', lay it on the ground and it roots. Too cool and easy. I'd share if you were close.

    Chandramouli, This cactus is actually native to this part of our country. A good adaptation for sure. You have a great weekend too!

    Janet, You too! Yes, mass plantings of prickly pears are stunning. I actually posted on one and was awed by it all. The bloom is wonderful and the purple fruits most cool.

    Joy, It might be this cactus that grows up there. I did some research and it actually is supposed to be hardy there. I gave me sister a start, not sure how hers is doing in Maine. I hope good. Never eat it though:~

    Skeeter, I might need to move to GA since fireworks are illegal. That is a mighty good thing. Here everyone will be doing them tonight. Not a big deal unless they wind up in my yard or damage property-always happens too. You have a safe trip!

    Lzyjo, Aren't they cool? I love these guys so much, the bloom is awesome. Glad you liked the taste. I think maybe in the right circumstances prickly pears can be okay, but even if not, isn't it cool you can eat them?

    Beckie, The surprises sure are the best! I always love it when some things exceed my expectations because I can assure you my garden never reaches what I envision it as each year.

    Easygardener, One day I might get adventurous and prepare it fresh. Don't hold your fingers though as I'm not much of a cook! I picked gooseberries which taste so much better and still haven't prepared them. Better get to work...

    Sweetbay, They are quite common down here. I simply adore them. You have a great day and weekend too!

    Everyone have a great day!

  12. I've never seen prickly pears outside of Arizona; I had no idea you could grow them in Tennessee. When I visit my daughter in Phoenix, there are jars of prickly pear jelly and cactus candy on sale in all the souvenir shops. The candy is like gummy worms, not too bad, but lots of sugar helps, I'm sure:)

    Have a happy Fourth, too!

  13. Tina, I do like prickly pear cactus, but I don't know how it was prepared in a Mexican meal I had once. My prickly pear bloomed a ton last year, but only has two buds this year. It's also in more shade than ideal, but it still does quite well. I'll have an awesome photo of a HUGE group of prickly pears in bloom from a garden walk I went on... whenever I get around to posting! :)

  14. What an awesome bloom. I have mine that you gave me in the front garden and it seems to be doing good but I am worried if it will take our winters or if I should bring it in the house. If I bring it in and put it out every year it probably never bloom.

    Hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th with lots of good food and fun with people we love and enjoy. It will be another first for Little Bundle. Everything is a first for him for a whole year. I may not be a spring chicken but remember how exciting all the firsts are.

  15. I like the prickly pear and wish we could grow it outside up here, it reminds me of the cartoon roadrunner and wiley coyote. I still have the one you gave me in a pot but no flower.

  16. Hi Tina, I'll take your word and not try the delightful canned version--actually can't remember seeing it stocked on my grocer's shelves;) When I lived in Alabama I remember patches of it growing here and there. You wouldn't think a cactus would do well in ordinary clay soil. Wonder how it got its name.

  17. What a pretty flower it has! I've never tried prickly pear, I wondered how they tasted. I think I'll just take your word on it and say "no thanks".

  18. Rose, Prickly pears are native to this area and I think most fun to grow-away from humans though since they are prickly:) Seeing prickly pear in jars in souvenir shops would be neat. Yup, lots of sugar would help for sure.

    Monica, Great you grow prickly pear up there in Michigan. What zone are you in again? 4 or 5? I thought they grew up there but so many have troubles with them. Any special tips for other cold weather growers? Can't wait for you post on the big planting. They look great massed.

    Mom, I think your prickly pear should do okay outside. Just so long as it is not sitting in water where the water freezes, so well drained. Outside is surely best for it. Gooseberries doing well? I am posting on mine soon. They are ripe in a big way. You have a great weekend and be careful!

    Dawn, It should grow outside up there. Plant it in a raised bed somewhere in full sun I bet it'll come back. If not, I think we may come up next year, I'll bring you more.

    Marnie, This cactus is so neat. Most of my friends down here refuse to grow it. Something about too many needles:) Hey, the good thing is once it's planted you leave it alone. No watering or anything. Very hardy and native to here. Just like the Adam's Needle yuccas, also native and good companion plants. Yes, don't try it for food.

    Catherine, I did not like it, but you might and I think depending on how it is prepared will make a big difference. Safer to say no thanks though for sure.

  19. I don't grow them but I think the bloom is beautiful Love that yellow! have a wonderful 4th of July!

  20. hope you enjoy your fourth.
    never had prickly pear in my garden or in my mouth...just doesn't sound appealing.

  21. ganz herzliche Grüße von Kathrin

  22. Hi Tina, prickly pears are native here too. The owners of the nursery where I work grow it in their vegetable garden, but have never eaten it.

    It's good to know it does well in part sun. I think it would be really cool to grow a cactus that could live outdoors here all year. I think prickly pear is probably the only one that does.

  23. What a wonderful and unusual bloom. I had never heard of Prickly Pear before (I don't think I have - my rememberER isn't that great anymore). Happy 4th to you too Tina!

  24. Happy 4th of July Tina. I've never tried Prickly Pears so I'll take your word for it. ;) My neighbor has tons of these growing in their yard. Such a low maintenance plant from what I've seen of her yard.

  25. Tina, I'm not the type of person who babies things along, so I don't do anything special for the prickly pear. They are native in this zone and do fine, even in my clay soil! I'm zone 5b int he old system or zone 6 in the new system, but they're hardy/native at least to zone 2 (0ld/3 new)--I saw some in Saskatoon, Canada and knew I wanted to grow them, too! :)

  26. I've seen these prickly pears in other gardens but never grew them or ever saw them bloom. The flower is really pretty. I can see why you're excited about it. And for the record, I've never eaten a prickly pear! I probably won't now that I've read your post!
    PS I hope your filipendula spreads too. I end up pulling some of mine out each year because it spreads so much (underground runners) and I have limited space. If you ever want any more just let me know ~ I've already thinned it for this year but next spring I would have more.

  27. Hi Tina -have a great 4th weekend. I also do not care for fireworks:( They have been waking up my lil bundle all week --I dread tomorrow night. Some of them squeal so loudly and fly over my house.

    Hi Jean --yes it will be a red/white and blue day for my lil bundle. He is so cute --I can't get tired of just looking at him -he totally amazes me:) I think I am appreciating him more since the other kiddos are older -they just grow up so fast these days. Sidekick looks all grown now --but is still quite the character:0)

    Hi Lola -I hope it is nice there -we have had some excellent weather the past few days. And, I have about 8 peppers almost ready for picking --they are so good. The heat and rains have been good to the yard this year --yes even my weeds look like they've been hit with a super fertilizer, hahaha.

    Hi Nina, Dawn and our traveling Skeeter -have a super weekend.

    Off to chase the big kiddos to bed. Night! Oh, Tina --why are my crepe myrtle blooming so early this year? Typically they have flowered in late August/early Sept but they are covered in blooms right now.

  28. Have a safe happy 4th all.
    Very late, very tired. Long day with pre-op.
    Tina I saw this cactus in Texas while blooming. Very pretty.

  29. I had this really cool one I got a piece of from someone I work with. It bloomed orange instead of yellow. I had it planted right next to the sidewalk, but got so afraid one of the kids would run into riding their bikes. I replaced it with a thornless yellow variety which was going to bloom this year - that is until I broke most of the pads off trying to pull a stuck garden hose. Have a great holiday!

  30. Hi all! Thanks for all the kind comments. Those of you in the north-check Monica's and Garden Girl's comment on the prickly pears. Monica is in Ann Arbor Michigan and Linda is in Chicago. My research also shows these plants grow from the south all the way to Canada so you northerners should surely be able to grow this great cactus. Give it a try if you gander. Dawn and Mom-do plant yours outside right away so it can get established before winter.

    Kanak, Thanks! Hopefully it is a quiet one.

    Marmee, You have a great holiday!

    Kathrin, Hello!

    Linda (GG), Yes, I think this is the only one and it actually is reputed to grow into Canada. A nice plant indeed.

    Linda (RG), I have that same problem too:) You have a great 4th!

    Racquel, Oh yes, very low maintenance and it looks good all year. Love it. You have a great weekend.

    Monica, Thanks so much! I am surprised more in the north do not grow it. So great you saw it in Canada and fell in love with it. I like it too. Gotta be careful those prickles though:)

    Kathleen, I think you are the only one I've seen post about it ever. I researched it 6 years ago but could not find a reliable source. I hope mine does well and I so appreciate the info on the Queen (cotton candy for sure:). Prickly pears are cool too. Have a great holiday.

    Anonymous, stay cool tonight when the fireworks start exploding. They'll be gone soon I hope! I think plants are all happy here this year with the good rain and so they are showing it by blooming early. That's what I'd like to think anyhow. Enjoy the blooms. It should last two months easy.

    Lola, Take it easy and let us know how things go.

    Les, Not a good thing for the kiddos to run into prickly pear for sure. That thornless one sounds so cool. It'll grow back quickly. You too have a great holiday!

    Lola, Good luck with the surgery and keep us informed.


  31. I do not grow them... a neighbor down the street has several along the sidewalk.

    I may have eaten them in a restaurant.

    I did sit next to a huge one to have my photo taken and later found a thorn in my shirt.