Diamond or Pencil Cholla
1 gallon; 5 gallon
Local Native; Mojave
Pink to Reddish-Brown (less often yellow)
The diamond cholla is a low-maintenance plant in Sonoran and Mojave Desert landscapes, as no supplemental watering is required. Locations with full sun are ideal for the growth of the diamond cholla. The diamond cholla does best in soil that is rocky and well draining.
Pencil Cholla can be either erect and treelike, or trailing on the ground with rising branch tips. It also expresses its individuality in the number of spines it produces, with some plants having no spines, others sporting sparse spines, while still others are completely covered in long, thin spines. No matter their appearance, all Pencil Chollas have these things in common: they need very little or no added water or maintenance, they resist deer and rabbits, and the surface of their branches appears divided into flat, squarish or diamond-shaped tubercles – hence its other common name, Diamond Cholla. This relatively tidy cactus drops far fewer joints or dried fruit segments than other chollas, but it is still best when planted away from foot traffic. Use this cactus to add sculptural interest to rock gardens, bird and butterfly gardens, succulent gardens.
Growing Plants in the Desert — Important Information
The information presented here is, to the best of my knowledge, accurate and based on my research from reliable sources, observations I have made of plants growing in my, and other gardens I have visited, and observations of the plants in their native habitats. I would appreciate your feedback and experience to help me educate others!
Cacti: In my experience, cacti are much happier in the filtered shade here in the low desert of the Coachella Valley. Colors are more vibrant and they bloom more profusely, especially the non-native varieties. If you pay attention to how our native barrel and beavertail opuntia grow in the wild, it is frequently tucked in the rocks under creosote or another shrub.
Light Requirements: I have found that in our desert (Sonoran/Colorado) “full sun” plants can take and appreciate the late afternoon filtered sun, especially in the hot summer months.