Opuntia violacea - Santa Rita Cactus
From the Mexican desert comes this handsome blue prickly pear with lemon yellow flowers and long black spines. When stressed by drought or cold, it turns glowing purple.
All prickly pears love hot dry summers, need minimal water and can stands a fail amount of cold. In the Sonoran desert where this one comes from originates, it sails through winter frost, even an occasional snowfall, and is hardy in zones 8-11. Happily, the two factors that bring out the purple color are cold weather and drought.
'Santa Rita' grows slowly to about 4 feet, forming nearly perfect circles. Even young plants are spectacular. In cooler zones, it does fine in a large container, but does need full sun and minimal water. In areas with lots of rainfall, the violet coloration is infrequent and fleeting.
Besides being purple, it blooms vivid yellow flowers and bears magenta fruit. Not your ordinary cactus.
Hardy in growing zones 8-11
Scarify the hard seed coat and soak seeds for a minimum of 24 hours in warm water, you should see the seed coats puff up, or swell. Surface sow, covering with a light layer of soil. Cover pot with plastic wrap and a rubber band to keep in heat and moisture. Place in a warm, sunny location, keep soil moist, but not soaking wet. Remove plastic wrap when you have seedlings.