|Cactus variation Too Mean to Die (what it's called at our house, since we all bear scars from it)|
Last year was my first experience with planting cacti. I bought my plants from a local nursery and assumed that they could survive any weather in our high desert climate--the cold winters, the baking summers, and the temperature extremes ranging from 10 to 100+ degrees F.
This past winter was a difficult one with a prolonged spell of 9 degrees F. In a "normal" winter (do we have these anymore?) we might occasionally get down that low in the night, but the temps usually rise well above freezing during the day. Not this winter!
Everything suffered, plumbing was a mess, and a good many plants were killed off. My barrel cacti were victims--you can see them here, back when they were thriving. However, all three of the prickly pear cacti survived and are making huge strides this Spring.
If you want to know more about prickly pears, you should check out this DesertUSA page, which includes all kinds of information, photos, and even a video that shows prickly pear food products (and margaritas!). I also found an article on Wikipedia that explains, among other things, that parts of the plant can be used as a binder in the making of adobe. Obviously, these surviving cacti were the perfect choice for growing along our south-facing adobe wall.