Can Chollas Grow in Florida?

Sometimes we have to interpret the questions we get. In this case, it wasn’t too hard to figure out what she was asking about.

Q: My husband and I were in Arizona and saw a lovely flowering (multi colored) cactus. We think the name was “troia” or “troya”. We live in southwest Florida and wondered if it could survive here and, if so, where could we buy it. We couldn’t find any information when we googled “troia”.


Sometimes our answers are simple and direct, other times, well, a little wordier…

A: Lois,
The name you are looking for is “cholla”.
There are many different species of plants that are called cholla, all in the Opuntia family (actually the Opuntioideae subfamily), with the genus being either Opuntia, Cylindropuntia, or Austrocylindropuntia.

(Basically, the Opuntia family has been divided into prickly pears (Opuntia) and chollas (Cylindropuntia). And then just for fun the botanists added an “Austro” in front for plants that are native to South America. We don’t actually agree with these divisions, and so our website lists them all still as Opuntia.)

Some common Arizona species include the Teddy Bear/Jumping Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) and the Buckhorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa). We also like the Pencil Cholla (Cylindropuntia ramosissima).

As for how well they will do in Florida, well… Not well. It really depends on your humidity, which is generally too high throughout SW Florida. The chollas are a pretty dry plant. Some of the other Opuntias, the prickly pears, will do better in Florida. You can even find a list of those that are native to Florida.


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