How To Care For A Saguaro Cactus

Digging a Saguaro cactus out of the desert to grow it at home is against the law. In addition, transplanting mature Saguaro cactus plants nearly never succeeds.

Babies of saguaro cacti are shielded by nurse trees. The nurse tree of the cactus will frequently pass away as it continues to grow. It is believed that the cactus might kill the nurse tree by vying for the same resources. Baby Saguaro cactus are protected from the sun’s glaring rays by nurse trees, which also disperse moisture from evaporation.

The well-drained grit and low water requirements of saguaro cactus need the soil to totally dry out between irrigations. Cactus food applied in the spring on an annual basis will assist the plant in finishing its growth cycle.

Scale and mealybugs are two frequent cactus pests that need to be controlled manually or chemically.

How is a potted saguaro cactus maintained?

  • appears to have an unnatural growth.
  • Saguaro cacti are crucial to the ecology of the desert because they provide as bird nesting sites and a source of food for them. They offer copious amounts of nectar, fruit, and pollen.
  • This species’ flowers are regarded as Arizona’s official wildflowers.
  • They like to spend short bursts of time in the sunbathing position. Your Saguaro cactus should be placed in a bright area with both direct and indirect light.
  • Although they can withstand drought, it is still preferable to water them gently because this will guarantee their best growth and blooming. In the winter and autumn, water them less frequently.
  • During the growing season, nurture your Saguaro cactus with a balanced cacti or liquid fertilizer. Plant it in well-draining potting soil.
  • Agaves, aloes, and yuccas are three other species that go well with saguaro cactus. They can be planted together because they don’t require special individual care.
  • Due to their stinginess, keep curious dogs and kids away from these cactus.

How frequently do I need to water a saguaro cactus?

Even though the Saguaro cactus is native to the Sonoran Desert, it is nevertheless possible to buy and take care of one at home. The Saguaro, however, needs highly specific care, so it might not thrive in homes that are located in colder or higher-altitude areas.

The specific care requirements for the Saguaro cactus are described in this section.


Water the soil where your saguaro will be planted before you plant it. Also, remember to start planting in the late spring or early summer. Sunlight is essential for saguaro cacti to grow, especially in their early stages of development.

Use a pot that is not very big if you are growing saguaros in pots because their roots are not very strong. Even so, you should make sure the pot has a substantial foundation because saguaros can reach heights of up to 40 feet.

Initial Watering

After planting, give the Saguaro around two weeks without any water. The Saguaro needs a thorough watering once every two to four weeks from May through October during the season.

Avoid using a watering can or any overhead watering methods to hydrate your Saguaro. The roots of the saguaro are near to the surface, which will cause overwatering. Instead, insert a little hose into the soil close to the Saguaro and wet it to a depth of about one foot.

General Watering

The Saguaro’s roots should begin to bury themselves in the ground after around six months. The same watering procedures should be followed until the roots are well-established. After the first planting, this normally takes between one and two years.

Following that, water the Saguaro once a month in the summer and not at all in the fall or winter. The hose method described above should be used to water your Saguaro appropriately.

Place the hose 5 feet or so away from the Saguaro’s trunk. After that, allow the hose to run for around 30 minutes. Your Saguaro should receive enough water if you do this once a month during the summer.

Check the outer pleats of your Saguaro to make sure it is getting enough water. Your cactus requires additional water if there is less than an inch between each pleat. To determine whether your Saguaro is submerged, you can also examine the skin. Your Saguaro is submerged if the skin is not firm.


You must plant the saguaro in the southernmost part of your home to ensure it receives south exposure because it needs full sun. Although it could be challenging to cultivate the Saguaro in cloudy areas, there are ways around this obstacle.


While it cannot survive in colder climes, the saguaro can withstand prolonged frost. A greenhouse is probably required if you live somewhere that gets quite chilly. The Saguaro can only tolerate temperatures of roughly 28 °F.

Additional Resources

During the summer, giving your Saguaro liquid plant food in addition to watering will aid in its growth.

Bacterial ooze might potentially harm your Saguaro. This is simply handled by digging the affected area and spraying it with a solution that contains about 10% bleach and 90% water.

Saguaro cactus overwatering is possible.

Due to the saguaro cactus’s low water requirements, overwatering is a common mistake that can result in root rot. Because of their shallow root systems, saguaro cactus plants shouldn’t be planted next to plants that require frequent watering or in close proximity to sprinklers, ponds, or fountains. This implies that while your saguaro cactus may absorb too much water, your other plants might not get the water they require. If your saguaro cactus already exhibits root rot symptoms, such as discoloration, an unpleasant smell, or leaking black patches, cease watering, remove the affected areas, and use a sulfur fungicide to get rid of the fungus.

How frequently should a saguaro plant be watered indoors?

Watering regimens will undoubtedly vary depending on where you grow your cacti. Your plant will either be kept indoors or outdoors.

How to water indoor cacti?

Cactus stems and leaves store moisture. The largest error that might be made is to water them incorrectly. As previously said, over watering could result in root rots and finally plant death. They will eventually stop growing if you submerge them since the roots will become dry.

Depending on the season, you may use more or less water. The cactus develop the fastest during the growing season, which implies they have a little greater water requirement. Water them up until the drainage holes start to fill up. The water must be drained in order to keep any dissolved salt from remaining in the soil.

During the growing season, watering most indoor planted cactus once every ten to fourteen days should be sufficient.

Less water is required by the plants during their dormant period. One of the most important rules is to examine the soil for moisture before watering. Because they store “water” in their leaves and stems, cactus need water even when the earth is entirely dry, in contrast to most plants.

Your cactus’ appearance should also help you determine if it requires water or not. Just once per three to four weeks should be enough water throughout the dormant time. You can raise the frequency of watering if the cactus starts to look pale. If you are unsure of the watering schedule, it is better to slightly underwater than overwater because the cacti can recover from overwatering, which causes the roots to rot.

We must utilize heaters to keep our homes warm during the winter. The cacti may suffer as a result of heaters being especially drying. You can solve the problem by placing a water dish close to your cactus. Your plant will benefit from the air being humidified as a result of the water evaporating.

The usage of humidifiers is another way to adjust the humidity in the space. They maintain moisture in the space. A dehumidifier is useful for removing extra moisture from the air as well.

How to water outdoor cacti?

Cacti grown outdoors are subjected to different environmental factors than those grown indoors. They have slightly varying watering schedules as a result. You must make sure the soil is dry before watering outdoor plants, just as those indoors.

Moisture meters are a useful tool for determining the moisture content. They assist you in avoiding going over or under the cactus. There are a ton of devices on the market, all with unique features. While some use batteries, others do not. Some even display the soil pH.

Press the probe 3/4 of the way into the soil to measure the moisture content, being careful not to injure the roots. Remove the probe from the soil after a few minutes, then check the results. Whatever you decide, they’ll undoubtedly assist you until you progressively learn how to determine when your cactus requires water.

During the growing season, when the water requirement is highest, water once every seven to ten days. If you watered your plants properly, the extra water will flow via the draining holes.

Similar to indoor cactus, you should water them once every three to four weeks throughout the dormant season. Remember, though, that you don’t have to wait until the plant feels rigid or dried out. You’ll become accustomed to the pattern over time and be able to detect when your cactus needs water.

Mornings are the ideal time to water outside plants. The cactus will have plenty of time for the water to get to the roots and stay hydrated to withstand the afternoon heat. This practice shields the plant against sunburns as well.

How should a saguaro be watered?

Water your Saguaro during the summer due to our drier and hotter climate. Every month, place a hose approximately five feet from the trunk and let it flow for 30 minutes or so. All that is required; winter watering is not necessary. Avoid letting water pool around the cactus’ base for an extended period of time.

Can a saguaro cactus withstand extreme cold?

In my front yard in Las Cruces, is this a saguaro? Saguaros reportedly grow poorly in this region. It has been growing since I planted it in 2012, adding about 1 foot year. Right now, it’s around 6 feet tall.

The Arizona saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) of the Sonoran Desert is what we mean when we talk about saguaros in the Southwest. Although it resembles the Argentine saguaro or cordon grande, Trichocereus terscheckii (also known as Echinopsis terscheckii) is one of the world’s hardiest columnar cactus, classified as USDA cold hardiness zone 8. (average annual extreme low temperatures reaching 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Sonoran saguaro can endure extremely low temperatures of 20 to 30 degrees and is classified as USDA cold hardiness zone 9. USDA hardiness zone 8 is usually accepted to include Las Cruces and its environs (same as the Argentine saguaro).

The most recent USDA Cold Hardiness Zone Map, however, was released in 2012 and used data on the 30-year average of cold temperatures from 1976–2005. It’s possible that Las Cruces would go up a zone or at least a half zone due to the average extreme cold weather during the past 30 years. Keep an eye out for the cold front as NMSU geography professor Carol Campbell, graduate student Scott Miller, and I update the hardiness zone maps for New Mexico and forecast where cold hardiness zones will be in the future.

Of course, when we are concerned about achieving the lowest temperatures that plants can tolerate, microclimates become even more crucial. The fact that the saguaro in your yard is snuggled up near to the south-facing stucco wall and encircled at the base by sizable heat-radiating pebbles probably contributed to its rapid growth and longevity. Yours may be a Sonoran saguaro, so if low 20s or lower temps are predicted for your area on any given night, I’d think about covering it. You can cover it with an old blanket, erect a large canopy like they do at farmers markets, put a five-gallon warm water bottle nearby to radiate a little heat, or do all of the above. You’ve heard me say it before: Here today, gone saguaro!

I discovered that there are a few crucial distinctions between Argentine and Sonoran saguaros. Saguaros from Sonora are known to grow much more slowly than those from Argentina, especially during the first few decades. A 10-year-old Sonoran saguaro may only be 1.5 inches tall, according to one source. That led me to believe that yours might be an Argentine. However, a closer inspection reveals that there are more than 20 spines (glochids) at each cluster (areole), which is a sign that the object is a Sonoran saguaro. In addition to having fewer glochids per areole, Argentine saguaros also have longer and more yellow-orange colored glochids. Compared to Sonoran saguaros, Argentine saguaros frequently develop their arm-like stems at a younger age and closer to the ground.

If you ever see it in bloom, be sure to snap a photo of it in bloom to share with us since accurate plant identification frequently needs flower observation. On October 6, I discovered one flowering at a petrol station in San Simon, Arizona. According to the attendant, it had just begun to blossom the previous evening. The period of flowering is another distinction between these two saguaros. The Argentine saguaro is believed to bloom at any time between April and October, while Sonoran saguaros are predicted to bloom in late spring. I went back and looked at the photos I had taken of the flowers, and sure enough (#okbloomer), the spines do indeed resemble those of an Argentine. Visit the blog to see a video of these gorgeous blossoms.

I want to thank the following people for their assistance in my search for saguaro: Jimmy Zabriskie, community forester for the City of Las Cruces, Rachel Gioannini, assistant professor/lecturer of horticulture at NMSU, Lucas Herndon and Raena Cota, members of the Facebook group Las Cruces Gardening Resource, Jeff Anderson, horticulture agent for Doa Ana County Extension, Patrick Alexander, district botanist for the BLM in Las Cruces, Mike Halverson, and Connie Chapman and Elizabeth Schutte,