Planting a Jumping Cholla Cactus

What You'll Need
Carpet scraps, plastic bags, or pieces of cloth
Water hose

It is best to plant the jumping cholla plant in spring or summer in any type of soil that is well-drained, including rocky soil. Every type of cholla grows best in full sun.

Step 1 - Dig a hole

Dig a hole two or three times wider than the plant, and just as deep. You do not have to add anything to the soil. Place the plant in the hole so that it is level with the original soil line.

To move the cholla without hurting your hands, use old carpet scraps, plastic bread wrappers, used garden hoses, or pieces of cloth to handle the plant more effectively. Now fill the hole with soil and press down gently to remove air pockets.

Water immediately and continue to water every five to seven days for the first month, reducing the watering time to once every one to two weeks during the first summer.

Step 2 - Water and Fertilizer

Chollas don't require the use of fertilizer. In low zones water the plant every three to four weeks in the summer. You can rely on rainfall to keep the plants watered in other zones. In the winter, rely on natural rainwater in all zones.

Step 3 - Maintenance

You should prune dead or damaged stems in the summer by cutting away at a joint.

Step 4 - Design

You can mix cholla with a wide variety of other succulents, and create a native garden that will add a lot of curb appeal to your home. These plants are also a good addition to areas of your yard that do not receive a lot of maintenance, as jumping chollas are very easy to care for and maintain.

A handy use of a jumping cholla garden is to create a natural barrier in a location on your property where you want to keep people and animals out. Chollas are wonderful as specimen and accent plants as well.

Interesting Facts

  • The flower buds of the cholla plant were roasted and eaten by native peoples in the Southwest. They taste like artichokes and are easier to prepare when young, as this is when they do not have the dangerous spines or fine bristles (glochids) they get as they mature.
  • Although the name of this plant is "jumping cholla," it doesn't actually jump. What happens is the brittle joints and barbed spines come loose quite easily, and are prone to attach to fur and clothing, simply by brushing by the plant or when a small breeze rustles the plant.
  • The jumping cholla is closely related to the prickly pear cactus, and has short, round stems that are connected by brittle joints.
  • Each stem has sharp, barbed spines covered in a thin sheath. The color of the sheath can be tan, gold, silver, or white. The sheaths reflect light, and as a result are beautiful when back lit.