The Q&A Archives: controlling cactus

Question: We live in coastal NC and have small cacti, looks like small prickly pear all over out yard. Is there any way to get rid of it other than digging each plant out? Thanks.

Answer: There's no easy way that I'm aware of. I suggest cutting each pad off at the joint with long-handled pruners. (Protect yourself with long sleeves, etc.) The pads are fleshy, so they cut pretty easily. Pick the pad up with a pair of tongs and dispose of it, or give the pads away to other gardeners. They root easily if allowed to callous over for a few days. (When I cut back my prickly pear, I put one pad in a thick section of newspaper, which allows me to transport them in a box and give them out at my garden club with a minimum of spine-stabbing.) Once the plant is down to a manageable size you can dig it out. Typically, cactus roots are not terribly deep.

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