Cacti have a wide variety of different looks that can make them fun houseplants to collect. The saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea, USDA zones 9-11) is one of the most classic with its majestic, treelike appearance. Saguaro cacti are often seen as a symbol of the deserts of the Southwest United States and Mexico and are known for living for more than a hundred years in the wild. You can also cultivate this plant at home and learn how to care for a saguaro cactus indoors.
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Placement of a Saguaro Cactus
Saguaro cacti are known to grow fairly slowly, averaging just a couple of centimeters a year. Nonetheless, their prolific age can mean saguaro cacti end up extremely tall in the wild.
Saguaro cacti occur naturally in arid, desert climates, so for them to thrive as houseplants, similar conditions will need to be replicated. This means that finding an area in your home with bright sunlight is key. A south-facing or west-facing window ledge can be perfect. You can also move your saguaro cactus outdoors during the warmer summer months to sit in partial sunlight but never let it experience temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering Your Saguaro Cactus
Cacti are generally known to require little water to survive. This is particularly true of the saguaro cacti that thrive in desert conditions, taking in water during rainfall and storing it for months during dry spells.
Indoor saguaro cacti require potting soil with good drainage. Mixing peat-based soil with sand can help prevent the roots of your saguaro cactus from becoming waterlogged. You can add a layer of pebbles over the top of your potting soil, which will help prevent the base of your plant from sitting in water. It's also absolutely essential that you choose a pot with drainage holes to allow any excess water to flow out at the base.
Saguaro cacti are dormant during the winter months, so they require very little watering during these periods — generally, only when you see that the soil is totally dried out. However, watering your saguaro cactus during its growing season can be key to making it grow. Between March/April and September, you should water your saguaro cactus more frequently.
Extra Care for a Saguaro Cactus
You can fertilize your saguaro cactus during the summer growing season to boost growth. Apply a fertilizer formulated for succulents every two to three weeks over these months. Avoid overfertilizing or using fertilizer during the plant's dormant season.
It's also worth knowing the types of pests that can affect a saguaro cactus. Scale and mealybugs are the two most common, so looking out for signs of these can help you treat any potential cactus ailments quickly and effectively.
As your saguaro cactus grows, it may be tempting to repot it. This should only be done when totally necessary, as saguaro cacti have relatively weak root systems and can thrive in pots that look too small for them. Only transfer your saguaro cactus if it needs extra weight at the base to prevent it from falling over.