Sprout Home Plant Of The Week: Rose Cactus

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Through a Rose-Colored Cactus...

Here's another wolf in sheep's clothing for you, though this plant is hardly vicious at all:

The Pereskia cactus boasts glossy, soft foliage in green to yellow to pink and gradations in-between. Truth be told, this plant doesn't look much like a cactus at all until you check its soft spot underneath to reveal its branches full of thorns. While this tropical cactus is commonly used as a houseplant, I love using both larger and smaller specimens in annual plantings, perfect for sunny and arid locations. Native from Mexico south through Central America, it's a great tropical addition to your summer scene!

rose cactus
Flickr photo by Tropic~7

With about two dozen species in cultivation, mature size can range from a sprawling plant with 2-3' of height, while others will approach 20' left unchecked. Their brilliance also goes beyond this amazing foliage, with a profusion of pink flowers throughout the warmer month, earning the nickname "Rose Cactus." Yellow and coral flowers can be found, each followed by a three-sided fruit with a profile similar to lotus pods, which are very attractive to snacking birds. In cooler climates, this cactus can also be brought indoors in to a sunny, warm window to overwinter as a houseplant. A chill in the winter will easily put this plant into dormancy, during which time it will lose most or all of its foliage. Able to withstand brief drops in temperature just below freezing, you may be able to incorporate this into a container garden or landscape in warmer areas. Keep in mind that a larger plant left un-checked can easily grow into a spiney thicket, so, as always, garden responsibly.