Saturday, December 7, 2013


I've had a change of heart regarding Prickly Pear since visiting a tiny town in central Texas.
Recently my wife and I visited the quaint historical district of Gruene (pronounced Green) just outside of New Braunfels, Texas.
I was fascinated by the landscape combinations...especially since they used thornless Opuntias.
Thornless varieties have a nice, smooth look for our tamer eastern gardens.
Of course, you can plant the spiny ones as well; just don't trip and fall on one! LOL
Hope you enjoy the tour!
Opuntias (Prickly Pear) look great in large pottery displays. Their large pads contrast well with many types of foliage.
This opuntia looks great in the round, urn shaped pot. 
This was my favorite combination of plants. I would never guess that copper plant would pair well with Opuntia, but it does. The smaller plants are vinca and a lavender flower that I don't remember. Anyone recognize it?
Gruene Hall had Opuntia growing with silvery Artemesias and copper plant.
For a Texas Cottage style garden, the Opuntias add a nice quiet backdrop for all the busy blooms.
This is an excellent blend of Opuntia, rosemary, salvia, and artemesias.
Another view of the Gruene Hall cottage garden. Most of these plants were in large whiskey barrels.
Opuntias look great against a solid wall. Most of the types growing in Gruene were various thornless varieties.
Here's an Opuntia paired with yellow lantana and purple setcreasea.
Here's some growing within a lawn. 
Notice the deep purple tunas on this Opuntia. They are almost the same color as the vincas.
Of course you can grow them alone. Either way, Opuntias are a fun addition to a garden.
If you are interested in some thornless species and varieties, try these:
Opuntia 'Old Mexico'
Opuntia ficus-india
Opuntia ellisiana
Nopalea cochenillifera
Opuntia can be grown in well-draining sands, gravels, and other mixtures. They can also grow on top of tree stumps, roofs, and on top of fence posts. I've even seen them growing on stone walls with hardly any soil.
Here's a rooted pad that I brought back to the garden. I'll bet it will have three or four pads by next December.
That's it for today.
Thanks for stopping by!


  1. The flower looks like Gregg's Mistflower.

  2. mmm....will have to rethink how I feel about prickly pear in the garden if you can get thornless ones.....otherwise I hate cactus in the garden. we do have wild introduced prickly pear here in Hawaii and I do enjoy eating the fruit. But do I want to grow it in my garden? I have relented to grow dragon fruit but I am still wondering if I should just pull it out. I just do not like cactuses in tropical gardens but your photos also show that it can have some interesting looks mixed in with the tropicals. Aloha

    1. Texas gardens include a lot of native plants that give us a regional identity.They don't look or do well in some climates, but in some cases they feel right at home thousands of miles away. If I lived in Hawaii I would grow Calatheas, Marantas, and banyan trees.

  3. I love thornless Opuntia in the garden, and especially in cottage gardens, where they look fabulous paired with tough old cemetery roses that don't need babying. Those Mickey Mouse ears always add a humorous element too. RJGUTEX is right about the mistflower.

  4. I never seen one without thorns.
    This is certainly changes a lot of things.
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I do like the Texas-style cottage gardens with a well-placed cactus...probably the most regional-looking of that style, other than what they can pull off in California and other Mediterranean climates. And I remember those whiskey barrel plantings of Opuntia in Gruene!

    Good list; if I can think of others that are spineless or less spiny, I'll e-mail them to you. Too bad many of those compensate for less spines by having more glochids!


I always appreciate your comments & questions! Happy Gardening from David/ Tropical Texana

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