Hardiness: USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F) USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F) USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F) USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F) USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F) USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F) USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F) USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F) USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)
Sun Exposure: Full Sun Sun to Partial Shade
Danger: Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling
Bloom Color: Pale Yellow
Bloom Time: Mid Spring
Other details: Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Soil pH requirements: 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral) 7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
Patent Information: Non-patented
Propagation Methods: From woody stem cuttings Allow cut surface to callous over before planting From seed; direct sow after last frost
Seed Collecting: Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
I live in Austin also and I have not had any problems with my gosseliniana, santa rita, or macrocenta. Maybe it is because I have built a mound of granite gravel under the roots for drainage because my native soil is clay.
On Oct 29, 2009, Menk from Darling Downs Australia wrote:
There seems to be a lot of confusion as to the true identity of the 'Santa Rita' clone. And it is important to note that it is just a selected clone of a species (a cultivar), not a species in its own right. I have seen plants with the 'Santa Rita' label attached to purplish specimens of O. gosseliniana, O. macrocentra, O. chlorotica, and O. violaceae. From a botanists viewpoint, all of the above are probably synoymous taxa, just variable. Even some forms of engelmannii, and a plant of suspect rank called Opuntia "azureus", have purplish segments at times, particularly when grown in full sun. Moreover I have seen miniature plants as well as giant tree pears given the name 'Santa Rita', just because they have very purple pads. My first introduction to Santa Rita was in the old Sunset Book publication "Cactus and Succulents - House Plants & Landscaping Ideas in Color", edited by Linda Brandt, Lane Publishing, 1978, which has a fantastic photo of a very large, shining purple bush called 'Santa Rita' on page 10. This is the image I have always carried in my mind as the "true" Santa Rita type. I would be interested to know exactly where this photo was taken, if the original photographer is still alive and can recall the location.
On Sep 25, 2008, kdaustin from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:
Purple color is stunning in the garden BUT tends to rot out easier than most opuntias in my experiance. We have wet winters here and I've had these just topple over going into spring. Also I have had the experiance of heavy winter damage to the pads, which was unsightly in my wildflower garden that spring. Still, I have several beautiful containerized specimens that have always done well, and have replanted more out in my yard. The flowers are stunning on the purple pads in spring, definately an eyecatcher.
On Mar 31, 2005, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:
I'm not sure if I managed to kill this or not. It certainly looks awful after the winter, and shows no signs of recovery--my other opuntias look awful, too, but they do show signs of recovery. It certainly wasn't poor drainage that did it in at any rate--I live in a desert and the yuccas on either side of this plant look fine.
On Dec 1, 2004, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:
Often confused with Opuntia gosseliniana.
O. gosseliniana has plain yellow flowers, O. santa-rita has yellow flowers with a bright red base.
O. santa-rita's new pads start out greenish then turn purpleish with age. O. gosseliniana's new pads start out purpleish then turn greenish with age.
O. gosseliniana gets to about 3.3 feet high, while Opuntia santa-rita gets to about 6.6 feet high and has larger pads.
O. gosseliniana's pads are thicker but smaller in diameter.
Sometimes O. gosseliniana will have long spines on the pads but never on a O. santa-rita. The long spines can be just a few or very numerous which especially happens in the prostrate form of the species known as 'var. longispina'.
On Feb 27, 2004, palmbob from Tarzana, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:
Very attractive but a little slow growing for me. Has great color, but still the same old viscious spines. Small plants seem to be the most colorful
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
Saks, Alabama Chandler Heights, Arizona Green Valley, Arizona Maricopa, Arizona Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports) Picture Rocks, Arizona Willcox, Arizona , California North Hills, California San Marino, California Thousand Oaks, California Chicago, Illinois Trout, Louisiana Easton, Maryland Las Vegas, Nevada Elephant Butte, New Mexico Roswell, New Mexico Whispering Pines, North Carolina Portland, Oregon India Hook, South Carolina Arlington, Texas Austin, Texas (2 reports) Bend, Texas Glenn Heights, Texas Seadrift, Texas