Elaine was a seedling cactus that was given back to me from my mom. For years going back to grade school, I grew cactus. I was infatuated with cactus. When I left for college and moved away, my mom kept my cactus alive. Every time I visited home, my mini cactus collection was alive and did well under her care. When I started my nursery, I gave my mom a cactus I grew from seed. She planted it near the door where it always greeted me for several decades when I visited. Surprisingly this cactus also survived one zone colder than my farm and tolerated semi shade. It also had one thing that had alluded me in finding: a cold hardy thornless cactus. Finally I took a pad to my farm to see how it would perform. A decade later I realized this was a special cactus surviving in a wind swept field. 'Elaine' was named after my mom.
Produces a long bright red and purple fruit can be used in jams and preserves with a flavor resembling strawberry and watermelon. "Elaine" is not a heavy producer of fruit but does flower profusely. If you decide to use the skin of the fruit scrape the fruit free of prickles called glochids. They are very tiny and a huge irritant. Scoop out the insides of the fruit and puree in a blender with water. The result will be a highly viscous gel.
The skin of "Elaine" has very few if any glochids in the first year pads. Older pads will develop them but not many. No thorns have been produced on older parts of the cactus, but it would not surprise me if a few pop out but so far none have been observed at my farm in southwestern Michigan.
The problem for cactus for me was the moisture level found during winter. A lot of cactus grow very well here but eventually succumb to a wet winter where it is essentially too warm and they rot or get a disease related to the moisture levels in the soil. All of the New Jersey, Alberta, Canada, Illinois and even Michigan cactus toasted here. I found this somewhat ironic because every day I drive by a large patch of them on a I-94 highway overpass taunting me. 'Hey cactus guy' we can grow without your help they seem to be saying. 'Ask your mom' one yelled as I glided by. Cactus have a prickly attitude I must say.
Package comes with 5 pads. Pads can be cut or split to create many plants from one pad.
|Genus & Species||Opuntia x hybrid|
|Height (ft)||6 inches|
|Pollination Requirements||Self fertile-does not produce a lot of fruit or in some years none at all.|
|Soil||Sandy, rocky-low moisture type situations|
|Ease of Cultivation||Easy to root. Has been low in fruiting. But a good pad producer here and has survived where all others have failed.|