The prickly pear cactus (opuntia ficus-indica) is a useful plant for creating drama in your garden, or adding a southwestern feel to your home and landscaping design. Prickly pear is also an interesting plant to feature in your garden because they contain large green pads that are edible. The cactus pears are red or orange and quite delicious.
These desert plants are very resilient. You don't have to worry too much about preparing for diseases, as the most common problem associated with growing the prickly pear is too much water. An excessive amount of water will cause the roots to rot and the cactus to collapse.
However, the plant may develop some problems, including leaf spot, black spot, bacterial soft rot, and viruses. You can avoid most of these diseases through proper maintenance and growing conditions.
Prickly pear is fairly easy to maintain because it is a plant that does not attract a large amount of pests. Scale and mealy bug are the main culprits. To deal with a scale infestation, remove the white, cotton-like growths by spraying the plants regularly with jets of water.
The prickly pear is native to the southwestern United States and Mexico, has deep branching pads, and can grow up to 15 feet tall in only five years. The oval variety can grow up to 3 feet long and a foot across.