Opuntia robusta

wheel cactus
Big blue paddles, nearly perfectly round and neatly stacked. Yellow flower makes burgundy exceptional tasting fruit. Prickly-pear margaritas here we come!
Opuntia robustaOpuntia robustaOpuntia robusta
height 3–15
width 3–15
tolerates Drought, Heat, Pots
Opuntia are extremely drought-tolerant, which means that no additional water should be needed once the plant is established. Newer plants might show that they are thirsty when their leaves begin to shrivel. If this happens, give them a bit of water; otherwise they might start to drop their paddles. Often these shed paddles will root and grow once rain comes.

To keep your opuntia plump and lush-looking, water it every two or three weeks during the summer.

Opuntias prefer good drainage, but they are tolerant of a wide range of soils.
exposure Part Shade – Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing All Purpose, Low Needs
origin N Mexico

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.

Growing Notes

These larger, more upright Opuntias will develop a meandering trunk over time as their paddles gradually cork and are covered with rough bark. By pruning the paddles as they grow, you can sculpt your trunk(s) and primary branches into the desired form.
Opuntias can easily be propagated by laying a paddle on its side atop a fast-draining soil mix.
Even if your opuntia looks especially soft and cuddly, RESIST PETTING IT! Opuntias have spines called glochids that look soft to the human eye, but they’re actually clusters of very annoying cactus spines that are difficult to remove. If you ever end up having a light brush with your cactus, patting the affected skin with masking tape can help; if the problem is severe, cover the affected area with wood glue, let it dry and then peel it off.

Special Interest

This opuntia has edible fruit, commonly called the prickly pear. Your friends will love a frosted prickly pear margarita! The fruit will be ripe when its colorful, though you’ll want to be sure not to end up with a mouthful of glochids (spines). Ways of removing the glochids from the fruit include rubbing them down or burning them off.