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What is a Rose Cactus?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated May 16, 2024
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A rose cactus is a type of cactus that resembles a shrub. It is found from Mexico to South America, but may also be grown in the southern United States. The plant has pink flowers that first appear in early spring and last throughout the summer. Other names for this plant are Pereskia grandifolia, Ora Pro Nobis, or Pray-For-Us.

Unlike most other types of cactus, a rose cactus has a bushy appearance. It can grow anywhere from four to 20 feet (1.22 to 6.1 m) high. This cactus can also spread up to 10 feet (3.05 m) wide. It is a deciduous plant, which means leaves are shed in the fall.

The leaves of an Ora Pro Nobis are usually dark green and waxy. This cactus has long, pointed thorns which protrude from the stems of the plant. For this reason, it is often difficult to pick the flowers or prune a rose cactus to the desired size or shape.

Blooms and new leaves first appear at the beginning of spring. These blossoms are pink, red, or occasionally white. They are characterized by four large petals and a yellow center. In autumn, these flowers turn into pointed, knobby fruit that somewhat resemble an apple or pear. The fruit contains seeds that can be replanted in order to grow new specimens.

Although a rose cactus prefers full sunlight, it can also thrive in areas that are partly shaded. It does well in both acidic and alkaline soils. Due to the size of the plant, it should not be planted near buildings, other large plants, or power lines. Unlike most varieties of cactus, this species needs to be watered regularly. For best results, the area around the plant should stay damp but not soaked.

The rose cactus is native to countries in Central America, South America, and Mexico. It also grows well in warmer areas of the southwestern United States. Other areas of the world with warm and dry climates may also be suited to growing this type of bush.

A rose cactus is a hardy plant that tolerates a variety of conditions. Also a fast-growing shrub, it can soon get out of hand if not cut back often. The fact that it grows to be very tall and has spiked thorns could make it ideal for planting around the perimeter of a garden to keep away unwanted animals. Doing so might also produce the added benefit of bringing bees and butterflies to an area to pollinate flowers and vegetables.

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Discussion Comments

By discographer — On Mar 11, 2011

I wish rose cacti grew in cooler climates too. I was so excited when I found out about this cactus type with rose-like flowers. I have a Christmas cactus at home and I've been looking for another cactus to adopt. Unfortunately, it won't be a rose cactus, it's just too big and it won't like the cool climate. It's such a unique plant though; the only cactus type that has leaves. It really sounds like a hybrid between a rose and a cactus. Maybe I will plant one in the yard if I move down South one day.

By serenesurface — On Mar 10, 2011

I saw many cacti when I was on vacation in the West Indies. One was called a yellow rose cactus. The description of a rose cactus is exactly like the yellow rose cactus I saw in West Indies, except that the blossoms were off-white and yellow in color. They were also blooming when I was there in the summer, unlike the rose cactus that blooms in spring. It was so leafy that there is no way I would have known that it's a cactus if a local hadn't told me the name. The blossoms were very beautiful, it actually reminded me a lot of lotus flowers I had seen in Asia. I love seeing and learning about different plants and flowers. Seeing a plant for the first time is like an exciting new discovery.

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