Opuntia sandiana is a robust-growing upright to semi-prostrate Opuntia with large impressive cladodes from the high desert of Central New Mexico, where it is found south of Albuquerque and Santa Fe and west of the Sandia Mountains and the Manzano and Piños Mountains. Occasionally subjected to snow in its natural habitat, it is a particularly tough Opuntia and is hardy down to at least -20C if kept dry. Growing it in a raised bed or on a sloping gradient in a free-draining gravelly substrate will increase its ability to tolerate a typically wet UK winter.
Despite not as yet being taxonomically described, Opuntia sandiana is a relatively distinctive Opuntia with its large cladodes, gold-to-straw spines and yellow flowers which have a spectacular darker orange-red colouration in the centre. The tapered spines form diagonal rows down each cladode with 2 to three main spines and several smaller white spines from each aereole together with an all-too-generous compliment of painful pale brown glochids.
Because of its exceptional resistance to cold and its large architectural stature, Opuntia sandiana is a 'must-have' Opuntia for anyone in the UK considering an outside cactus garden.
|Geographical Origin||USA: Central New Mexico|
|Cultivation||Full sun. Well-drained gritty, gravelly alkaline substrate. Add limestone to the substrate. Keep as dry as possible in winter|
|Hardiness||Hardy in the UK if kept dry. Can withstand at least -25C in its native habitat. A very free-draining substrate is essential. Little organic matter. A sloping gradient is ideal|
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