Plant of the Month – July


Pencil Cholla
Cylindropuntia ramosissima

  • Plant Form: Cactus, succulent
  • Water Use: Extremely low, very low
  • Mature Size: 5-6 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May)
  • Native to: California, Baja California, northwestern Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

Pencil Cholla provides a nearly maintenance-free, sculptural addition to your southwest garden while satisfying your native pollinators with its springtime flowers.

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. Its pink, orange, or brownish flowers attract butterflies and other beneficial pollinators. This fairly 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, and any southwest design landscape.


Check out our “Garden Tasks” for July