Carnegiea Species, Giant Cactus, Saguaro

Carnegiea gigantea

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Carnegiea (kar-neg-GEE-uh) (Info)
Species: gigantea (jy-GAN-tee-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Cereus giganteus
View this plant in a garden


Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:




over 40 ft. (12 m)


10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)


USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

From softwood cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Anthem, Arizona

Apache Junction, Arizona

Black Canyon City, Arizona

Cave Creek, Arizona

Chuichu, Arizona

Gilbert, Arizona

Goodyear, Arizona(2 reports)

Kearny, Arizona

Maricopa, Arizona(2 reports)

Peridot, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona(3 reports)

Queen Creek, Arizona

Salome, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona(2 reports)

Brentwood, California

Colfax, California

Laguna Niguel, California

Menifee, California

Reseda, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Henderson, Nevada(2 reports)

Las Vegas, Nevada

El Paso, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Ivins, Utah

Saint George, Utah(2 reports)

Washington, Utah

Vancouver, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 9, 2015, Kell from (Zone 9b) wrote:

Per Jan Emming owner of the Destination:Forever Ranch and Gardens, a 40 acre desert botanical garden and sustainable living homestead in the Arizona desert with a nursery:

Notes on moving the 2 large saguaros in above photos.

The largest saguaro is about 17 feet/5 meters tall and has four arms. I estimate it to weigh perhaps about 2500-3000 lbs (1100-1300 kg),

Note the good root system on both saguaros. It is imperative that you get as many roots as is feasible when digging any plant, especially the larger ones that have more growth to support than smaller or shorter ones do. The more roots it has, the faster the recovery and the better the odds of survival in general. It is not possible to get all of the lengthy feeder roots that sprawl out in... read more


On Apr 26, 2013, FortWorthGuy from Westover Hills, TX wrote:

I've got 3, one from seed that is tiny, a 9 year old that's about 5" tall and a 15 year old that's over a foot tall. I bring them in during the winter, don't really do much to them otherwise. I went ahead and gave them a little fertilizer and they seem to be happy. I did transplant the biggest one into Miracle Gro cactus soil. I've read that isn't a good thing to do but however, that was weeks ago and so far so good!


On Apr 28, 2012, Peterthecactusguy from Black Canyon City, AZ wrote:

I live in the northern most range in Central AZ for the saguaro. Around 10 miles north of me on I-17 is the last sagauro heading from Phx to Flagstaff that was damaged by a brush fire.

NB saguaros grow fairly quickly in my area due to the warm summers and coolish winters. Much below 20 degrees and they will freeze. Some were damaged here in 2011 winter season when we had 16F nights twice. Being in their northern habitat is pretty interesting. Some have weird shaped arms that bend down or curl around the main stem. A large crested one nearby was lost last winter after a windstorm blew it over...


On Mar 7, 2011, sag64 from Salem, OR wrote:

I raise these indoors as I live in Oregon. I have several plants that are six to eight years old. The tallest is 2 1/2" and the widest one is 1". I have two year old plants that are 1/4" x 1/4" and one year old plants that are 1/8" x 1/8". The young ones grow best in north facing windows. I water the young ones every week and the old ones every two weeks. I fertilze every two weeks with orchid fertilizer at 1/2 strength. I have tried putting them outside in the summer, but they sunburn easily and that kills them.


On Jan 4, 2010, nogottarancho from Maricopa, AZ wrote:

when we bought our house it had two fat sags. about 6 feet high. 5 years later and lots of water in summer they are 10-12 feet high and fatter.

last week, I saw a walking cane made from sag. spine. wood grain was very unusual.


On Jan 4, 2010, Damaclese from Henderson, NV wrote:

i have a plant of approximately 22 years old. It is now over 15 ft tall. though they grow slow the can at times grow as much as 12" in a year if conditions are right for them. I have mein on the west side. It gets shade most of the day as my neighbors house sits only 12 ft on the other side. Its fast growing up in to the sun that comes over top of the house. I had my first flowers last summer. Living in Las Vegas is ideal for them hot summers and warm winters. I water it 2 times a year if the rains do not come. I watch the diameter of the trunk if it gets small then i water. Also i feed it with a food specifically designed for desert Cati probably why my Saguaro has grown 6 ft in 5 years. I cant wait until it grows it first arm i only hope I'm alive when this happens id say i have about 40... read more


On Jan 4, 2010, uglysteve from Apache Junction, AZ wrote:

I have about a dozen growing wild in my yard, from 2 feet to 25 feet tall. They require no care or watering. Yong plants need shade from a nurse plant. Likes fast draining sandy soil. Large plant's don't transplant well, and cost a lot. In Arizona they are protected and require a permit to move.


On May 12, 2009, Patricka52 from Colfax, CA wrote:

I bought some Saguaro seeds about 13 years ago. I planted them and one grew. My Saguaro is now over 2 ft. tall. I live in northern California where we have hot dry summers but cold wet winters. During the summer I put the cactus outside where it seems to enjoy the heat. In the winter I bring it inside and put it near a sunny window. It's getting to the point where it's difficult to move it. I'd like to give it to my neice who lives in Arizona but don't know how to get it there.


On Sep 13, 2008, Menk from Darling Downs,
Australia wrote:

I live in Australia and have grown seedlings of this plant for many years. They have grown surprisingly quickly, reaching about 10 inches high. For some inexplicable and frustrating reason they have all suddenly died at around this stage. The comments below by bugeyedmonster regarding their need for light shade until mature may provide an explanation for my failings with this plant. I had always assumed they needed full sun, so I was undoubtedly cooking them. It does stand to reason that they grow down under the protection of their towering parents, and in amongst the bushes and herbage of the desert floor until they are old enough to emerge into the full sunlight.
After deciding they were impossible, I will now give them another try and this time provide them with some shade. I als... read more


On Jun 15, 2008, JohnTS71 from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I planted this 2 months ago and I can already see growth. Its doing quite well.


On Nov 15, 2005, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

The native distribution of this plant is:
Quoted; "Sonoran Desert, primarily in Arizona and in southern California just west of the Colorado River, south into Sonora, Mexico, at elevations of 180-1350m (590-4430 ft)


On Mar 1, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Native Americans once depended upon this plant as an important source of food, and it is still used to some extent. The pulp is eaten raw or preserved, the sap fermented to make an intoxicating drink, the seeds ground into a type of butter.

The woody ribs were used in making shelters.

During the night the flowers are visited by nectar feeding bats and many insects.By day the flowers are visited by the White-winged dove. A major pollinator.


On Mar 8, 2004, Michaelp from Piney Flats, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

The fruit that grows on the top of mature plants,is the best tasting of all the cactus family[my oppinion]. The fruit can be reached with the ribs from dead ones, near by---tie a wire to the end and make a loop-than you can remove the fruit from the top of the tall ones-I learned this as a child.


On Mar 7, 2004, bugeyedmonster from Dallas, TX wrote:

I have two pots with this Saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) grown from seeds. I have had the plants at least 6 years. The tallest has now reached the height of about 1 inch. I would advise that if you are growing these guys from seeds, put them in indirect sun. They don't do well in direct sun until they are older. They take about 75 years to reach full growth potential so you will have to be patient. You might think about to whom you would leave these plants in your will. In my area, we do get heavy rains and winter snows. So any outside Saguaros would definitely have to be pulled in before rains and fall/spring frosts. They do seem to love the hot summer months here in Texas, though.


On Nov 29, 2003, krasicky wrote:

I bought one last January - after replanting - mine is growing VERY SLOWLY!! It will take years before it reaches the height of some of the other plants around it. One plant I am happy to have in my desert landscaping plan.


On Nov 21, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is the 'ultimate' cactus for any collection, though getting one full size is problematic as they are protected (as they should be) and getting seedlings is frustrating as they are SLOW, especially here in So Cal where it's not nearly as warm as in Arizona. I have a seedling in the ground for nearly 10 years now and I'm not sure it's appreciably larger than it was at planting... it's still only about 6" tall. I am sure I will have long since died by the time it becomes recognizable as a Saguro Cactus. I have recently seen much larger specimens for sale, raised in nurseries in hot areas and shipped here. May have to get one of them someday ($$!).