April 1, 2013

Opuntia Oops

It is the first of the month and time to show you a garden mistake, which Joene calls Garden Oops on her blog. Visit her and read about GOOPs in the garden.

First of all, nothing in the ground looks good in spring in New England, it's all too soggy and defeated after a long winter. You just don't look. It gets better.

But this is pathetic.


This is Opuntia humifusa, Eastern prickly pear. It's not only winter hardy here, it is native to my part of Connecticut. I planted it in gravel last fall and it spent the winter under deep snow, which has now melted, leaving the pea gravel oddly squishy when you walk on it.

I know nothing about growing succulent plants in my climate, but this has oops written all over it.

 

43 comments:

  1. No! Actually that is what they are supposed to look like right now, come warmer temps they'll stand upright again I'm sure of it. Heck you'll probably even fave fabulous flowers this summer!

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    1. Loree, Seriously? These are going to be ok? Wow.

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    2. Seriously..just you wait and see!

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  2. Ha! No GOOPS for you this month, Laurrie :). Actually I want to try a few of these out in my curb garden where it is dry as a bone.

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    1. Sue, I can't believe these sad looking succulents could come back! Isn't it cool that there is a prickly pear cactus native to our part of the world?

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  3. I'm betting this is a temporary ugliness, Laurrie; mine collapses each winter, then rises gradually as time goes by. Avert your eyes until the change comes.

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    1. Lee, I had no idea. I can't imagine that your stand of cacti get all shriveled like this. When I saw yours in summer, they were awesome and looked like a little mini desert scene. I will need to be patient.

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  4. Love that floppy little fellow - love these comment even more! I would have thought the same thing as you!

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    1. Jennifer, amazing isn't it? I thought for sure these prickly pear cacti were goners.

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  5. I've never grown this, but I'm glad the other commenters say it's supposed to look this way! It will be interesting to see it springing back up!

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    1. HolleyGarden, I am going to have to post again on this opuntia in summer, and you can all read then whether it did or did not recover. Here's hoping : )

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  6. Though I don't grow these succulents either I have seen them in beds adorning our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. I recall them always looking sad this time of year. I'll bet others are correct ... they will pop up as spring awakens further and finally warms to summer.

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    1. Joene, I guess I never saw opuntia in winter or spring -- I've only noticed them around here in summer and they always looked so perky. Now I know to wait.

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  7. Funny that that is how they are supposed to look after the winter. But what's even funnier is that they are native to the east coast. That's hard to believe! I do love it when they flower, though. Very cool.

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    1. Sarah, it really is amazing that we have a native cactus here. I never knew before seeing one in another garden locally.

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  8. I have read that some (all?) prickly-pear cacti pads are edible. I know that I like eating "nopales" (prickly-pear cactus pad) at my favorite Mexican restaurant.

    BUT if you prepare them wrong - or choose the wrong kind of prickly-pear cactus - I've heard there are TINY spines that can seriously irritate your mouth and throat.

    So I've always been too much of a chicken to try growing and preparing them myself.

    Oh and I think the prickly pear has a fruit (strangely called a 'tuna') that is edible too. But not sure if it would fruit in your climate? http://www.saveur.com/article/Kitchen/Juicy-Fruit

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    1. Aaron, I don't think I am going to eat my prickly pear cactus : ) It's purely ornamental, although looking at it right now it is severely short on any ornamental interest.

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  9. I'm hoping this guy pops back up for you! Hang in there! I think we are almost there!!!!

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    1. Nicole, Several people are encouraging me that this guy will, in fact, pop back up.

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  10. It will pop up and flower too! Beware of the tiny, tiny prickles.... for days I had them in my fingers! Now my prickly pear is over 30" across and 18"wide and rooting into my sidewalk. I'm afraid to pull some of it out due to those prickles-but I have to get it under control and pull some out. My goops is not leaving it enough space to spread. I had no idea! Love your photo--looks like he keeled over. The piece near it will probably send out roots and root right where it landed!

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    1. Diane, this is good to know. I have no experience growing opuntia, and the comments here are a big help. I will definitely have to watch out for those prickles!

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  11. Write that cactus a prescription for Prozac. Stat!

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    1. Jason, It does look like it needs some emergency medical intervention : )

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  12. I was going to say how sorry I was for your cactus, but after reading the comments it sounds like it is just taking a winter nap and will come back just fine! No OOPS on this one!!

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    1. Christy, I really hope I can say no oops this time. Commenters who have grown prickly pear are encouraging me!

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  13. It looks like it's given up. It's actually quite funny, as if lifting its head is just too hard. Maybe it needs a pep talk. :o)

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    1. Tammy, it does make me giggle to see it lying down like that.

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  14. I'm sorry, Laurrie, but that photo just made me laugh. Awful, I know.

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    1. Lyn, commenters are telling me opuntia looks like this at the end of winter, so I guess I better get used to how ridiculous it looks -- and having a good chuckle each spring : )

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  15. I had to laugh at this--it does look pretty sad:) I know nothing about opuntia, but I'm glad to read from the comments that this isn't a GOOPs after all.

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    1. Rose, thank goodness for all the people who are telling me no to give up hope. Otherwise, this funny cactus would be outta here.

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  16. oh Laur, you're friends give me hope! Mine looks much like yours and I've wondered for weeks - what did I do wrong. Maybe we don't have an "opps" after all!

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    1. Becky, I am putting my faith in all the comments that tell us to hold on and wait for this plant to perk up. Let me know how yours does, it will warm up for you before mine I think.

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  17. Great to read the other comments and find this plant will come back. I would have thought maybe it would die off and then a new plant emerge from the ground but it should be really interesting to see this collapsed bundle stand back up again.

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    1. Marguerite, I am going to have to watch this closely as the wilted pads plump up the way other commenters are saying it should. Can't imagine. . .

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  18. Mine has always bounced back, but I also put mine on a slope that is mulched with gravel so it is better draining. I bet it bounces back!

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    1. Donna, I am so encouraged by all the people who say theirs bounce back. I'm waiting to see that!

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  19. I love the idea of GOOPS but maybe you should give the opuntia a little more time to revive.

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    1. Commonweeder, that's the consensus here -- not an oops, just a need to be patient and see if this sad opuntia perks up!

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  20. I never would have guessed that cactus would still be alive if I hadn't read the comments here! lol I didn't realize it was hardy so far north either.

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    1. Sweetbay, it was a surprise to me when I learned that this prickly pear is native to northern CT -- I had no idea!

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  21. It deflates due to the fact that it pushes the moisture/water out of the cells. This moisture loss increases the sugar/salt concentration in its cells and prevents the plants from freezing. It's also easy to propagate: just carefully break off a pad and stick it in media and it will root and grow. Pretty interesting stuff and a great blog!

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  22. I planted opuntia myself after seeing them in many coastal gardens in the Tri-State area (NY/NJ/CT). They always come back, and the drier, hotter, and more direct sun your bed gets - the faster! In my coastal beach garden down here in southeast Connecticut the opuntia are spreading right toward the ocean - lol.

    It's also true they are native to the East Coast from Florida to coastal Rhode Island. While they won't grow in truly severe winter climates like the upper Midwest/ upper New England/High Mt West... they do grow almost everywhere else in the USA, Mexico, Caribbean, and south America.

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