Taking care of saguaro cactus

Saguaro cactusWhen you hear the word “saguaro” you probably imagine a large, tree-sized cactus with a mighty ribbed stalk that grows in the Caribbee coastwise. I also once thought that all representatives of this species are too big and don’t suit to be houseplants. But once I visited a flower-show and was enchanted by a small odd bluish plant with wax film on it. It turned out to be Cereus peruvianus “Monstrosus”, a typical saguaro cactus. Since that saguaros are honorary members of my collection.The genus name means in Latin “wax candle”. Saguarosare called this way not only owing to the columnar stalk, but also because of the wax film covering young bluish sprouts, that stiffen later. Pretty white or pink flowers with puce edges, that blossom out in the night, stand out against the background of this aquamarine ribbed stalk. Edible fruits are juicy and sweet.There are just a few saguaro species widespread as indoor plants and they all are well-liked among collectors for their unusual beauty and simple tastes. These cacti don’t need special care but still you have to observe the rules that are common for all xerophilous to achieve their healthy development and flowering.

Saguaro cactus requires much sun in all seasons. I keep my plant in the strong sun without any harm for them, but it is necessary to take into account that in spring you should accustom your cacti to sun gradually to avoid burns. Young exemplars need shading as well. In summer I expose the pots to the light and sprinkle the stalks in the evening with hot water to wash away dust. But if you have no possibility to give your plant enough light, you shouldn’t be sad because saguaro cactus can grow in the lamplight. Fresh air is also necessary for all the species, so I try to air the room as often as possible.

Usually saguaros don’t give a lot of troubles and grow quickly. Another condition you should consider to keep your cactus plant healthy is the proper amount of water. In spring and summer I water my plants gently – the soil must be sufficiently moist. In autumn watering is to be reduced and in wintertime don’t water it at all, except when the pot stands in a warm place: you can water it a little once a week.

And here comes another question: does saguaro cactus require warmth all year long? If you’ve already looked into the section True and False about Cactus, you should know that like all xerophilous it needs a period of rest. At this time the year growth ripens and a cactus musters its strength to vegetate well in spring. I made sure from my own bitter experience that in winter saguaros must be kept dry and cold – about 10-15C. Earlier my plants stood on the windowpane just above the central heater. The soil became dry fast and I watered them from time to time, fearing that my little friends would perish. It wasn’t very dangerous for cacti but they didn’t grow properly and didn’t bloom at all. When I found out that a period of winter rest is urgent for saguaros, I’ve built special glass shelves to protect my cactus plants from heat emanating from radiator. Now I admire beautiful cream-coloured flowers opening at night every year.

Soil is also of no small importance. Not everyone knows that saguaro cactus can’t bear alkaline soil at all. They prefer acidic soil. My recipe is: turf soil, leaf mold, garden loam, coarse sand (2:2:1:2) mixed with slack lime, broken brick and charcoal. I transplant my young plants every year, grown-up ones – in 2-3 years.

Saguaros grow quickly, that’s why they need not only a rich watering, but also an additional fertilizing in the period of their rapid vegetation (end of spring – middle of summer). I usually buy cactus fertilizers in the shop, there are some good ones on the market.

9 Responses to Taking care of saguaro cactus

  1. Sheri M says:

    Do you answer questions regarding the care of cactii?
    If so, I have a problem perhaps you could help me with. I have a prickly pear cactus–like a beavertail, although I’m not sure of the exact name. to be honest I bought it from the store and just used the soil and pot I bought it in. also, I’m afraid I haven’t drained it very well. Mold has begun to form in the soil and I really want to rescue my poor cactus but I don’t know how, short of repotting it! If you could maybe address this issue in a future post I would appreciate it.
    thank you!

  2. fieria says:

    It’s a pity that I can’t see your prickly pear to give you an exact advice. But anyways I would recommend you to change the soil in the pot. Usually sellers advice you to do it first when you come home. I suppose you can buy cactus soil in the same shop. Besides, I think that it can’t get moldy if you don’t water your plant. No drainage can help if you don’t follow the main rules of cactus care. Do you remember that in winter your prickly pear cactus must rest in the dry soil and a cool place? Don’t be afraid to stick to these rules and your cactus will say thank you.

    By the way, when you change the soil in the pot, pay attention to the roots – are they healthy?
    If you think some rootlets look fishily, remove them. Hope it will help, but you can always ask questions if you need an advice.

    p.s. if you think the situation is really sad, you can try to implant an upper cutting of your cactus, because the plant begins to rot from below.

  3. kauderwelsch says:

    I’m afraid to say this, but you are wrong. Cereus peruvianus is by no means called Sahuaro, and there’s not a single Sahuaro growing in the Caribbee.

    Sahuaro refers estrictly to the species Carnegiea gigantea, that grows only in the Sonoran Desert. There is another giant cactus from the Sonoran Desert that resembles Sahuaro, namely Pachycereus pringlei, but this one is more often referred as “False Sahuaro” or “Cardón”, in spanish.

    Cereus peruvianus is just that: a cereus!

  4. fieria says:

    Yes, you are probably right. Cereus peruvianus is a cereus cactus. I’ve already received several remarks like yours. The confusion occurred because of the difference between the English language and my native toungue, where saguaro and cereus have the same equivalent. Though it’s quite clear what I really mean in my posts, I promise to be more careful next time as concerns this aspect. Thank you for your comment.

  5. stardancer says:

    I need help with a saguaro cactus that came with my house. It is at least 11′ tall and for the 2nd time growing through the window in the ceiling. There is no other way to deal with it other than cut it I am afraid, but I don’t know how or where or anything. Please contact me if you have any help you can offer.

  6. […] My friend explained me it was a prickly pear cactus and told that I should take care of it as of saguaro. But it wasn’t enough for me – I needed detailed information to save my dying prickly […]

  7. Roy says:

    I have a saguaro it is appox 6ft high and 18 years old. It sufered a trumar when it was 6inches high and 2 years old, completly droped and smashed out of its pot. I repoted it and from then on the small knob it had on one side grew into what is now a 3 foot high branch. I tried to move it the other day and with its heavey weight the whole thing tipped out of its pot root in all . The root seemed to be very shallow for the size of the plant. I now need to repot it, have you any sugestions on how to do this and suport it from falling out of the pot ? At the moment it is leaning against the wall sitting in loose soil….really fond of it and dont want to loose it.

  8. tina says:

    I have a saguaro cactus about 5 yrs in my yard. It has an inch crack near the base. Will that affect its growth or cause further damage and can you tell me what caused this to happen?

  9. Rainkit says:

    I only found this web site today, and I have a problem. I left my false saguaro out in a snow storm and brought it back inside (not knowing it needed the cold) and it collapsed. I propped it up on a stick and secured it with a rubber band. It’s still fully attached but it’s leaked some of it’s water. Will it ever heal and be able to support it’s self again? I thought it would but that’s what I thought about the burns to.

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