One of only a few cacti truly native to the Los Angeles area, Coast Prickly Pear can be found clinging to steep, southwest-facing canyon walls. As it grows larger, top-heavy sections of the cactus sheer off at the seams where new paddles have formed and tumble downhill, tending to root wherever they land.
The mother cacti for our Opuntia littoralis has passed along its unusual and voluptuous red flowers (they’re more commonly yellow), which bloom in late spring to early summer.
This is, perhaps, the most care-free local native you’re likely to encounter. We usually only water these once – when they’re first planted. After that, they’re on their own.
You can trim the “pups” that form on the edges of larger paddles with a sharp knife to propagate your own plants. Just let the cut surface on the trimmed piece “scab over” for about a week. Then bury it a couple of inches in fast-draining potting soil (add a little extra perlite and/or sand), compacting lightly. Let the medium just barely dry out between watering and you’ll have a nicely rooted cactus-in-a-pot, ready to plant out in only a few months’ time.
Please note that Coast Prickly Pear is indeed prickly and the tiny, hair-like spines (Glochids) are annoyingly painful and difficult to see, let alone remove. We recommend handling them (when you must) with two pairs of extra-thick gardening gloves on each hand.