These beautiful Opuntia cactus flowers look like roses! You'd never know they came from a prickly plant if you saw them alone.
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Oh my! Have you stopped to notice how gorgeous cactus flowers are??? I had seen some before but never really paid attention until I went to the Cactus Chat at Waterwise Botanicals.
April 2016 was a pretty exciting month in the world of cactus lovers, especially those of us with freezing winters. Waterwise Botanicals in Escondido launched a line of cold hardy cactus (which you can purchase online from Mountain Crest Gardens) with some pretty incredible flowers.
I'm really excited to share these with you! Tom Jesch, the manager of Waterwise, is a die hard cactus lover and grew up in the Sierra Nevadas. He really knows his cacti too. It was a lot of fun to see all the different varieties he's collected, including the ‘Baby Rita' which he hybridized himself.
Also at this event, the lovely Debra Lee Baldwin shared about her new found love of cactus, and cactus flowers. These prickly plants are slowly getting to people. They really are great!
In her talk, Debra pointed out something I hadn't thought about before. Cactus essentially come in 3 different shapes:
Mind blowing, right? I really hadn't ever put that together, but it's definitely true! Well, this cactus chat was focused primarily on Opuntias which are paddle cactus.
One of the people responsible for many of these amazing Opuntias, with fantastic colored blooms, is Kelly Grummons of Cold Hardy Cactus. I had the chance to meet him and learn a little more about the cactus he's been developing.
It's really amazing what he's been able to produce hybridizing these plants! In the next few years you'll see some really amazing cactus on the market!
All of the pots you see behind and in front of us are filled with cacti, many of which were created by Kelly.
The really wonderful thing about this line of Opuntias, and almost all Opuntias in general, is they are cold hardy and some are even frost tolerant! I received some from Tom a few years ago and they have survived under over a foot of snow for weeks at a time.
On the flip side, they can also tolerate pretty extreme heat and are very drought tolerant. They can go weeks without water and still look great. If you're living in a climate like most of Utah, Arizona, Nevada, etc. Opuntias are great plants for creating a waterwise garden.
Below you'll find some of my favorite shots of cold hardy Opuntia cacti. Most of these varieties are available to purchase from Mountain Crest Gardens.
Looking Sharp Cactus also has a variety of cactus pads available for sale through her shop (although she does not always ship cactus pads during the summer). They aren't the same varieties you see below, but there are some great options!
First off, my personal favorite… ‘Pina Colada'. This particular cactus blooms yellow with a red stripe the first day and then the flower turns pink on the second day. How crazy is that??? I'm seriously in love with it.
Another favorite is this Desert Skies. The pink on it is simply stunning and so vibrant. I also love how it has some hints of orange in it too. It definitely mimics the colors of a sunset.
The color of this Opuntia ‘Party Favor' was difficult to capture. It's nearly fluorescent purple and really amazing in person.
There was one variety not released this year, but may be released soon called Opuntia ‘Red Gem Miniature'. This cute little guy actually grows really well in containers, in addition to being cold hardy and having a beautiful flower.
I was fortunate enough to get a few pads of this and I'm excited to have them in my collection. It'll be fun to see how they do in my pots over the winter!
Here are a few others for you to enjoy as well. Isn't it amazing how beautiful these flowers are? If you didn't see them on cactus pads you'd probably think they were roses!
I hope this post has given you a new appreciation for cacti! They really are an amazing part of the succulent family. To see the full collection of new Opuntias available at Waterwise Botanicals, click here.
And those of you growing in cold climates should really appreciate that these will withstand freezing temperatures! I know I do!