The thornless hardy Prickly Pear. Well, it still has fine glaucids on the pads that can painfully stab into your hands. They are fine like slivers or hairs and are a pain to remove. (Try duct tape- thats what I do and its successful). Large big round pads pile onto each other to 4′ tall and quickly forming multiplying patches up to 8′ across. In summer it displays large single yellow flowers. Smooth and good looking Cactus year round. It has some of the best ability to deal with our winter wet. However, I’d still amend the soil heavily with gravel and pumice- sharp drainage is key. Sharp drainage on sunny slopes is ideal. Excellent under the south facing eaves of a house. Works well in containers too that are protected from extreme winter wet. (Move under cover in winter). Cold hardy below 10ºF but the combination of wet and then arctic cold can shrivel some pads. Recovery in spring is rapid. Anticipate that it will spread quickly and allocate room. Moderate deer resistance.
Tall growing hardy Cactus native to cold New Mexico. The pads are armed with 2″ orange thorns that will make you think twice about messing around. To 5′ tall and 4′ wide in 5 years in our climate. Multiplies quickly and large erect pads build up to probably the tallest Opuntia in our climate. In early to mid summer 5″ brilliant yellow flowers are a show stopper. They open just when its hot and sunny enough- closing in any dim conditions. Full, hot, all day sun and very well drained appropriately amended soil. On a slope, double dig the soil to oxygenate it and incorporate hefty amounts of pumice and gravel in the soil. Water regularly through the first summer to establish growth and then none in subsequent years. Extremely cold hardy. Locate away from paths, anywhere you might get too close. Remove deciduous leaves that become ensconced in the pads in autumn. Otherwise it can lead to rot. Long lived. High deer resistance.
Spectacular in bloom this is one of the easiest Opuntia (Prickily Pear Cactus) for our climate. Pads are fiercely armed and are blue/gray. The 2″ needles are formidable and begs that this plant be place away from paths. Spreading to 2′ tall x 4′ wide in very well drained poor soil with light summer water to establish. Avoid all shade- bright open conditions suite this native of the SW U.S. Avoid placing near deciduous trees where dropped leaves can collect on the plant- they are not only a pain in the ass to remove they must be to avoid rot in winter. Grows relatively fast- increasing before you know it. Amazing in large rock gardens as well as large containers. Amend the soil with pumice and gravel so that winter wet does not collect around the base. It will root through this deep into the ground. Once established it can get by with all that falls fro the sky. Huge yellow flowers with an orange center are 6″ wide an amazing when they appear in late spring to early summer. Highly deer resistant. Long lived.