Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea)

The saguaro is one of those cacti that impress, both for the length and sharpness of its spines, and for the size it can reach over time. In addition, it is a very slow growing species, which could be a drawback if we want a garden to show off as soon as possible, but not if we are looking for a plant that we only want to see grow.

You can think that it will fulfill its decorative function when it is a certain height…, but that is not true. Even the smallest specimen is precious. Do you also think it is worth seeing? Well, here you have your complete file.

Origin and characteristics of the saguaro

Image – Wikimedia/ Murray Foubister

Our protagonist is a columnar cactus known as a saguaro or saguaro endemic to the Sonoran Desert. Its scientific name is Carnegiea gigantea. In general, it reaches a height of 12 meters, but in habitat one of 23.8 meters was found.

Its stem has a diameter of up to 65cm, and it has between 12 and 24 ribs with brown areoles, separated by about 2cm. From them sprout 12 or more radial spines and between 3 and 6 central spines whose length is up to 7 centimeters, brown in its youth, and gray as the plant ages. The flowers are composed of white petals, and are 12cm in diameter. The fruits are red, and they are full of tiny seeds.

The adult specimens usually have ramifications several meters high, and there are even some that acquire a crested shape on the upper part of their stems.

What are their cares?

If you want to have a copy, I recommend you take care of it as follows:


The saguaro is a cactus that wants to be outside, preferably in full sun. Now, during his youth he may be in semi-shadow.

Of course, when you want to expose the star king, you have to get used to it little by little since otherwise it would burn. Start by putting it in the autumn sun for an hour a day, and increase the time by one hour a week.


  • Flowerpot: highly recommended the pumice, as well as fine gravel (3mm) mixed with 20% peat.
  • Garden: the land must be sandy, and have good drainage. It is seriously harmed by puddles.


Image – Wikimedia/ Stan Shebs

How often is the saguaro watered? Well, the answer will depend on the season of the year in which we are, as well as the location of the cactus. In general, you have to know that during the summer you will have to water more often than during the rest of the year, but you also have to ensure that the soil dries completely before moistening it again.

Starting from this, if in your area the summer season is very hot (over 30ºC) and dry, it may be necessary to water twice a week; instead, the rest of the time it will be watered once a week or every ten days. During the winter the frequency of irrigation will be less, especially if the temperatures drop below 0 degrees.


From the beginning of spring to the end of summer, it will be paid with a fertilizer for cacti (on sale here ), following the instructions on the package.


The saguaro or sahuario multiplies by seeds in spring-summer, following this step by step:

  1. First, fill a seedbed (interesting to use a seedbed tray, to have the seeds more controlled) with quality cactus substrate (like this one they sell here ) or with universal substrate mixed with perlite in equal parts.
  2. Then, place (or try to place, since they are tiny it can cost a lot ) a maximum of 2-3 seeds in each socket or pot.
  3. Then cover them with a thin layer of substrate and moisten the substrate with water with the help of a spray bottle.
  4. Finally, treat the seedbed with fungicide so that the fungi do not appear, and place it outside, in semi-shade.

If all goes well, they will begin to germinate in 3-10 days.

Planting or transplanting time

In spring, when the frosts have passed.

If you plan to plant it in the garden, do it when it has reached a height of about 40 centimeters, or slightly less. He thinks that, although its growth rate is slow, if time is allowed to run, then it will be more difficult – and dangerous – to manipulate it.


It is a cactus that resists cold and frosts down to -9ºC as long as it is adult and acclimatized. However, it should be borne in mind that it prefers warm climates, with a minimum temperature of 0 degrees.

Curiosities of the saguaro

Image – Wikimedia/ David J. Stang

If you want to know more about this plant, we are going to end the article by telling you some of its curiosities:

  • Life expectancy: it can reach 300 years.
  • Growth rate: 2-3cm per year. It takes about 30 years to reach one meter in height.
  • Pollination: only those specimens whose flowers have received pollen from other saguaros produce fruit.
  • Fruit: it is edible. It is eaten raw.
  • National Symbol: Its flower is the national flower of Arizona.
  • Maximum temperature: supports up to 50ºC.

Where to buy?

Since it is a slow-growing cactus, it is not usually found for sale. For this reason, I advise visiting the nurseries specialized in the production of this type of plants or their web pages, since it is not uncommon for other species with the same name to be marketed elsewhere.

The price of a 10cm copy is around € 20.

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