Prickly pear gets its name from numerous sharp spines borne on the stems, and the seasonal fruits known as pears or tunas. The long, sharp spines (the prickly part of the name) are actually modified leaves that harden as they age.

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Opuntia can be creeping, bushy or tree-like cacti, usually with flattened, pad-like stem segments bearing spines and barbed bristles, and with funnel-shaped flowers followed by spiny, fleshy fruits

Water whenever the compost has dried out, allowing any excess to drain away. Feed with a cactus fertiliser once every two months from spring to early autumn. In winter, move to a cooler spot to encourage flowers. Repot young plants every spring, and mature plants every couple of years.


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