Why Doesn’t My Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom?

why doesn't my prickly pear cactus bloom

There are three main reasons that are necessary for the production of blooms in Opuntia ellisiana (commonly known as the prickly pear). One, it must be exposed to full sun. Two, the soil must not be consistently and heavily watered by precipitation or irrigation. Three, you will need some time.

If people are having difficulty cultivating this plant flower,  the root cause is usually an absence of sun or root rot that is caused by waterlogged soil. Well-drained and sunny soil is usually all that this plant requires to thrive.

The decomposing granite will also improve your garden. Mix it in with some dark compost and you should have a flourishing garden.

After taking several years to grow, this prickly pear plant finally blossomed.

Why Isn’t My Prickly Pear Flowering?

Prickly Pear cactus may sound like an exotic plant but is actually quite easy to grow. It is a plant that has been domesticated for a number of years and can be grown in any moderate or harsh climate. Prickly pear flowers in the spring however many cactus plant owners find that they do not flower at all. Here we will look at some of the reasons why your prickly pear may not be flowering.

Shady Area

Prickly pear prefers sunny places and needs plenty of sunlight in order to bloom. You will never find this plant growing in the shade. If given enough sunlight and warm temperatures, prickly pear can flower!

Prickly pear has some pretty awesome qualities. For example, the prickly pear cactus can tolerate long periods of drought and high air temperature all while looking majestic!

For the winter, it does not need to be transplanted into a pot and brought into the house. Even if it is not sheltered, this plant can still withstand temperatures falling as low as -25ºC for more than 2 months.

Lack Of Sandy  Soil

It is the combination of lack of Sandy soil and improper irrigation. Sandy soil is the best for the growth of prickly pear. They require a great deal of water. In case the soil is not sandy enough, the plant is not able to push its taproot deep enough to reach and absorb the water present in the soil. Also, sandy soil is required for the plant to mature and to bloom flower.


Prickly pear is particularly sensitive to stagnant moisture at the roots. Plant them in sandy soil and make sure that the ground around the edges won’t be an issue as very few cacti will grow in places where there’s a lot of moisture. Be sure to also cover each cactus with its own individual drainage hole, so it doesn’t get too saturated.

For all terrestrial species, the watering needs to be carefully monitored during the dormancy time to keep the soil of the basin just a little moist, but not overly dry. When it is wintertime, the temperature is higher than 15 degrees and the soil can be watered as normal.

Lack Of Fertilization

Lack of fertilization during the growing season reduces plant growth and earlier flowering. Generally, fertilization should be stopped when the temperature is higher than 32°C and lower than 20°C.

The Rules for Making a Cactus Bloom


Pruning is the process of removing dead, diseased, or damaged parts of a plant; it can also be used to remove unwanted branches or to renew the overall form of a plant. In order to keep your cactus healthy, ensure that you prune them regularly, eliminating dry or dead parts. Pruning is generally limited to removing individual pads as needed to maintain shape and size.

Useful tips when pruning:

-When using a knife, trim off 1/3 of the branch about 2 inches for new growth.

-Choose a time when it is nice outside so you can place the cuttings somewhere that won’t kill them

-Treat your friends with extra leaves with some rooting hormone mixed in water


The soil needs to drain well, as residual moisture or puddling can cause the plant to rot. To ensure good drainage, it is best to use sandy soil that contains plenty of nonorganic matter.

When planting prickly pear cacti in containers, choose a pot with at least one drainage hole at the bottom for every two inches of pot diameter. Make sure the pot has a hole large enough for the roots to fit through when you transplant it into the ground.

Amendments & Fertilizer

Fertilize young plants with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer. For established plants, a 5-10-10 (lower in nitrogen) water-soluble fertilizer will promote more flowers and fruit. If you are growing for the pads, use a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen.

A common mistake people make when growing cacti indoors is to feed them too much fertilizer; this will cause your cactus to grow very quickly for several weeks, but then it will stop growing or shrink back down to its original size. This is because the cactus isn’t getting enough water and nutrients through its roots—overfeeding makes the roots grow faster than they can handle, which stops them from functioning properly and not blooming, and the entire plant suffers.

Fertilize cacti only in the spring and early summer, using a cactus-specific fertilizer or a highly diluted fertilizer lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus and potassium. 


Prickly pears are extremely drought tolerant. Don’t water newly propagated pads for the first month. After that, water every two to four weeks for the first year — twice a month in summer and once a month other times of the year. In most areas, rainfall will be enough to sustain established plants. 


The key to getting a flowering prickly pear to grow from seed is patience. The first sign of a new plant growing from seed is the appearance of two round cotyledons, which look like tiny leaves. Cotyledons are the embryonic leaves of the seed and will remain attached to the growing plant for a long time. In fact, it may take three or four years before your prickly pear plant starts to produce flowers and fruit.

Propagation from pads is much simpler and yields faster results. Here’s how:

  • Pads that are at least 6 months old can be cut off by following the pruning instructions above.
  • Set the pots out in a dry area with light shade, and keep the cut end out of the soil so a callus forms. This prevents the plant from rotting at the base if set right after planting. Allow up to several weeks for this process to take place depending on how warm or humid it is outdoors.
  • Once you have fully hardened calluses, plant your seeds in a mixture of soil and sand at a depth of 1 inch. If planted any deeper, your seed may rot.
  • There is enough moisture on the pad to last for the first month without watering.
  • Plant the roots in a garden, covered with soil and mulch. Prop up the plant using rocks or wooden stakes until it grows its own roots in about a month.
  • You can water your plants around this time also and make sure that you don’t over-water them. You want to avoid creating damp soil as well as standing water in the saucer because overwatering is a common cause of root rot and other issues.

“On new plants, flowers and fruit will usually appear by the second or third pad that grows.”

Diseases and Pests

Though prickly pears are not known to suffer from any serious disease, they can sometimes be affected by rot if grown with poor drainage. Furthermore, other less serious problems can occur. Some cultivars may be susceptible to fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt, which can stunt growth or kill the plants. Mealybugs or scale insects may also appear but are normally easy to control and treat.

When Does the Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom?

It all depends on the species and the conditions. In general, they flower in the spring after their so-called “winter” rest period, which is when they are placed in a cooler and drier place and watered less frequently. They will flower when these conditions are met.

Cacti are members of the plant family Cactaceae. There are about 1,500 different species of cacti and most are native to the Americas. The Prickly Pear Cactus, also known as the “Opuntia,” is one of the most common in Mexico. It is covered with white, yellow, or purple flowers in spring. In many cases, the cactus blooms after a period of dormancy and extreme dryness during winter.

How Long Does It Take for a Prickly Pear Cactus to Bear Fruit?

It depends on your type of cactus. If your plant is a species of Opuntia (meaning “fire” in Latin), then an average size specimen will reach maturity in 4 years or less. There are many types of Opuntia, but the ones we grow—like “prickly pear”—are known as “prickly pears.” We have a variety of them at our farm and they mature at different rates. But even within the same type of cactus, there can be quite a range from year-to-year.

You can also propagate prickly pear plants by taking cuttings from your plant and placing them in the soil. When growing from seed, it takes 3 years for fruit production to start. While pricking out seedlings is quite easy, it does require some effort on your part; you’ll need to be patient enough to wait for the plants to grow up before you can transplant them into the soil or potting mix. This is one of those projects that takes patience—it may take 3 to 4 years before your cactus bears flowers!

Do All Prickly Pears Bloom?

Plains Prickly Pears have golden or yellow flowers. Different varieties of prickly pears may have red, pink, or orange flowers. The flowers change in color over the duration of the prickly pear’s bloom. They become more reddish as the flower gets older.

Do Prickly Pears Bloom at Night?

Most cacti plants flower in the spring, during the day. But not all of them—and there’s nothing like a surprise when you go to check on your plants and find one bearing blossoms at night! You can even use this technique to keep a little freshness in your home all year long by planting cacti that bloom at night in a bowl near the window or in a pot on the porch. 

Do Prickly Pear Flowers Become Fruit?

Prickly pears fruits are also known as nopales. Both belong to the same family of cactus. When they bloom, they look like a rainbow in bloom, with flowers that open yellow, then orange, and then reddish at maturity. The fruit is also edible and the flesh inside the fruit is sometimes eaten raw or cooked into a hot sauce or jelly. In Mexico, these are often served as a garnish for tacos or other dishes, but they can be eaten as a snack or appetizer… or dessert.

How Often Does a Prickly Pear Cactus Flower?

The fruits are called prickly pears or tunas. warm climates pads may be harvested as many as six times a year. Established plants may yield 20 to 40 half-pound pads at each harvest.



Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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