Cane Cholla, Tree Cholla Outdoors (Cylindropuntia imbricate)

Add to My Plants (2)

No account yet? Register


A common sight in the deserts of the Southwest, particularly Arizona, this cactus has thorny branches resembling cane or rope, which have spawned some of its common names: cane cholla, chain link cactus, devil’s rope cactus, walking stick cactus. Violet flowers appear in the spring and are followed by orange fruits. The cane cholla can withstand temperatures down to −20° F (−29° C) and is hardy outdoors as far north as zone 5, as long as it receives ample sun and little rain.


Unique foliage and spiny textures give these cacti an artistic, sculptural appeal. Wonderful for containers and xeriscaping. May be displayed outdoors even in cold weather as long as it is kept dry.

Plant Feed

Apply liquid fertilizer 2 or 3 times during growing season.


Water every two weeks during dry weather.


Well-drained soil is essential.

Basic Care Summary

During extremely dry periods water thoroughly once a week for best performance. Drought tolerant; requires a sunny, arid spot to thrive. Wear protective gloves when handling; spines can cause injury and tiny bristles are difficult to remove from skin and fabric. Situate cacti in low-traffic locations where they’re less likely to cause injury to you, guests, pets, or to the cactus, if bumped.

Planting Instructions

Plant in spring or early fall to give plants the best start.

Choose a location that will allow roots to spread and branches to grow freely. Space plants far enough from building foundations, walls, and decks so that the growing foliage won’t crowd the structure. Consider whether tall trees or shrubs will block windows or interfere with the roof or power lines.

To prepare the planting area dig a hole as deep as the root ball and three times as wide. After removing the soil, mix it with some compost or peat moss. This enriches the soil and loosens the existing dirt so that new roots can spread easily.

To remove the plant from the container, gently brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot. The container can also be removed by carefully cutting it down the side.

Set the plant in the hole. If the root ball is wrapped in burlap fabric this must now be removed along with any string or wire securing the burlap. If roots are tightly packed gently rake them apart with your fingers.

Return the soil to the planting area packing it firmly around the root ball. Fill the hole until the soil line is just at the base of the plant, where the roots begin to flare out from the main stem.

Water the plant well then add a 2” (5cm) layer of mulch, such as shredded bark, around the planting area. Keep the mulch at least 4” (10cm) away from the trunk of the plant as this can keep the bark too moist and cause it to decay.

Watering Instructions

Depending on rainfall, new plants need to be watered weekly through the first growing season. A slow, one-hour trickle of water should do the job. During hot spells thoroughly soaking the ground up to 8” (20 cm) every few days is better than watering a little bit daily. Deep watering encourages roots to grow further into the ground resulting in a sturdier plant with more drought tolerance.

To check for soil moisture use your finger or a hand trowel to dig a small hole and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.

Monitor new plants through the first two years to make sure they are getting the moisture they need. After that they should be sturdy enough to survive on their own.

Pruning Instructions

Pruning may be needed to remove dead branches, encourage bushier growth, promote more flowers, or maintain a specific size or shape.

Fertilizing Instuctions

Established trees should be fertilized every 2-3 years. Feed in early spring when plants start growing.

Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Determine which application method is best for the situation and select a product designed for trees and shrubs, or go with a nutritionally balanced, general-purpose formula such as 10-10-10.

Always follow the fertilizer package directions for application rates and scheduling. Over-fertilizing plants or applying at the wrong time during the growing season can result in plant injury.

Plant Details

Category Nursery
Height Range 1-5′
Height Metric Range 0.3-1.5m
Space Range 1-5′
Space Metric Range 0.3-1.5m
Available Colors purple
Companion Plants Prickly Pear, Texas Sage, Lace Hedgehog Cactus
Lowest Temperature -20° to -10°F
Lowest Temperature Metric -29° to -23°C
Bloom Time Spring Spring
Plant Light Full Sun
Hardiness Zone 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12