Saguaro Cactus Growing Time: Indoor and Desert

saguaro cactus growing time

Recently, I was hiking in the Sonoran desert, which is famous for its gigantic Carnegiea, saguaro cactus. As much as possible I tried to observe that rare species in the world and simultaneously did research on my laptop.  It was a fun fact to me how much I was learning from that dig down. Let me share with you my hundred hours of surfing about the saguaro cactus. 

The saguaro is one of the largest and rare cacti in the world. The saguaro cactus, Cereus giganteus or Carnegiea gigantean, meaning gigantic candle, is found only in the Sonoran Desert, which is in southern Arizona and northern Mexico. It grows most often in deserts but with proper care indoors also. 

The cycle of life begins with the sprouted seed by mother nature. This saguaro was probably 25 to 30 feet tall when it is around 100 years old. Plants reach full maturity at about 125 years of age. The saguaro can live from 150 to 200 years even in some cases three hundred years. In height reaches up to 50  feet at the age of 150.

Since saguaros grow so slowly, it might take 50 to 75 years for them to grow their first arms. Arms help them to store extra water. And that number of arms may be several at the age of 100 and maybe many at age 200.

 It’s like a little slow racer, slow grower but steady grower: only one meter (3.3 feet ) for a period of 20-30 years. The cactus reaches its maximum size at the age of 75 years.

The flowering stage, at age 50, begins when the saguaro is 6.9 feet tall (Steenbergh and Lowe, 1969).

An environment like drought influences how many branches the saguaro will have. A normal vibrant saguaro produces 10-20 branches if the rainfall all year round is good and abundant. Unfortunately, in the driest location, the number may go down to zero.

The plant is famous for its huge weight, which can be about 8 tons;  80% of the composition of the saguaro cactus is water. 

Small saguaros beneath a nurse tree. Kyle estimated the smallest to be between 12 and 15 years old. 

Source: University of Arizona Campus Repository

How Fast Does A Saguaro Cactus Grow?

The saguaro is considered one of the most beautiful and enduring examples of a very slow-growing plant. To reach 1 inch in height, it may take ten years. Moreover, to obtain a height of 6 feet, it would take 70 years. How time-tested plant saguaro is!!

  1. At the age of 15, its height can be only 1 foot. 
  2.  By the age of 30, saguaros start to bear fruit. This is when they develop their full stature, meaning they start to reach the size where they can bear fruit.
  3. By the age of 50, the plant can reach 6 feet in height.  The saguaro is a unique plant. The plant is considered a symbol of immortality because it can live for more than hundreds of years.
  4. After about 75 years, the saguaro cactus may have the first branches, or “arms”, which are thought to be ancient evolutionary adaptations to the desert environment.
  5.  By the age of 100, Carnegia can reach 7.5 m or 25 feet. 
  6. Adult saguaro is an American cactus that can live to 125 years old. 
  7. The average life expectancy of Saguaro is at least 150 – 175 years, sometimes in good conditions, they can grow more than 200 years. 

How Much does A Saguaro Cactus Grow per Year?

Saguaros are one of the slowest growing and longest growing plants. In Saguaro National Park, studies indicate that a saguaro grows between 1 and 1.5 inches in the first eight years of its life.

HeightAge (Years)
0.5 feet (0.15 m)9
1.0 foot (0.30 m)13
5.0 feet (1.5 m)27
10.0 feet (3.0 m)41
20.0 feet (6.1 m)83
25.0 feet (7.6 m)107
30.0 feet (9.1 m)131
35.0 feet (10.7 m)157

So, from this table, we can make a calculation that on average,  a saguaro cactus can grow per year 0.23 feet (35 feet/157 years).


How to Make a Saguaro Cactus Grow Faster Indoors?

Saguaro Cactus Grow Faster

Now that we know why they are growing at such a rate, as a home gardener, we can take some steps so that they will at least slightly increase their growth rate. And, it is clearly sure that saguaro cacti can’t jump overnight to 10 feet and not also get maturity like other cacti within a short time.

However, you can add some promotional kicks so that their growth and health get a good pace.

  •  Saguaro cacti grow in an arid desert climate, so similar conditions, an artificial desert climate, may influennce them to thrive as indoor flowers.
  • Make sure your indoor soil is enriched with neutral, loamy, gravel, rocky,  and well-drained.
  • It is good for their health with low content of organic matter (peat moss, pumice, coco peat,  humus).
  • On top of the soil add some pebbles, gravels, brick, stone. The reason behind using these stones is to reduce soil moisture levels and stabilize the cactus as it grows.
  •  Provide a small container that helps saguaro cacti and their weak root system. Don’t forget to make some holes under the container.


  • Carnegia giant thrives in bright sunlight, but prolonged periods of hot, sunny weather can scorch the surface of the trunk.
  •  The south or west-facing window is good so that they get indirect sunlight.
  • As a juvenile, they can’t tolerate too much sunlight. So help them with shady sunlight.
  • However, when they become adults, and pain resistant, you must provide them with direct sunlight. 

Temperature and Humidity

  •  Genetically, naturally, and for the geolocation birthplace of Saguaro, they did thrive in the hottest weather for many years. If you are living in cold weather. Be aware of it.
  • Try to keep your indoor temperature above 10 ° C. 
  • In the winter season, relative humidity is actually higher in winter than in summer (76% vs. 66%, according to climatology) which is not good for your saguaro,


  • Summer season is very hot. Your lovely saguaro may die due to lack of water. Don’t make the mistake of overwatering also.
  • Watering saguaro in such a way that they get moistened but not rot the roots.
  • Watering is not necessary in the winter season.


Using a combination of essential nutrients, such as potassium and phosphorus, together with nitrogen fertilizes the soil so that plants like saguaro plants appear whose height is perfect in all aspects.


Cacti prefer full light from the sun. This adaptation can be slowed down if indoor temperatures are low enough. Expose them to an hour in sunlight when the sunlight is less intense. When they are fully adapted, let them gradually absorb direct sunlight. Select such a place where they will burn with direct sunlight.

How Long Does the Saguaro Cactus Take to Germinate?

The night-blooming saguaro blossom bloomed throughout the state of Arizona in late June. It makes a beautiful display that is hard to miss.

 By Purchasing your own saguaro seed packet from amazon you can able to grow your own Giant Saguaro Cacti at the home! These are seeds are reliable and will start to germinate in 3 to 10 days.

Sprinkling a few seeds over the top of the soil and watering with a mister or by setting the pot in a saucer of water will ensure that they will germinate. Sprinkled seeds with plenty of water will grow naturally, whereas planted seeds should be watered frequently and then once or twice more.

Here, Jahre means years, 5 years old, 10  years old.

The range between min and max is depending on the environmental factors. In cultivation, one should be able to be nearer to the max. curve. With the curve, you should be able to estimate what your seedling can reach at what time.

The red light (visible light, produces more heat) is great and best for germination while far-red light(dimly visible, produces less heat) retards the germination process. Following a 1/2-hour exposure to red light, a 24-hour imbibition period gave the highest germination. Several exposures to red light produced better germination than one exposure. At constant temperatures germination was best between 68° and 86° F. and with fluctuating temperatures between 59° and 95°.

Plants absorbed more red light but reflect more far-red light when the seeds are placed in a heavy shady area. So make sure that your germinating seeds are getting little more bright sunlight.

How Long does It take a Saguaro Cactus to Sprout?

Though germination and sprout seem similar terms that is not the case. Germination means growing a plant from seeds and that plant must be a prototype of the mother plant.

 Inversely, sprouting is a developing seed into a digestible form of fruit that contains different micronutrients.

The saguaro cactus species took 50 years for its first blooming and followed to digestible fruits.

How Long Do Saguaro Seeds Last?

The more unfavorable the natural condition the more chances to going dormant the seeds to germinate. The saguaro cactus has the ability to dormant a hundred years until it gets the right environmental conditions to grow. However, if the seeds are fresher, then there are more chances to germinate.

Older seeds might take more time to germinate and might also need UV Treatment or repeated cycles of drying out and watering but most of it finally comes through. But the seed that was stored for 20+ years in the closet of some Peruvian Cactus might be difficult to germinate.  

How Long Does it Take for A Saguaro Cactus to Grow an Arm

At the age between 50 to 80 years old, most saguaro gain a height of 10 feet. And get the optimum point when they start to grow arms. More specifically, at the age of 75, it grows arms.

How Fast Do False Saguaros Grow

Cardon commonly referred to as the false saguaro cactus, or the Mexican giant cardon (alternatively known as the “elephant cactus”), is a large-sized member of the Cactaceae family. The members of this group are known for their outstanding resilience and durable stems.

An average false saguaro may reach 30 feet but in some cases, it may reach a height of 60 feet.

The good news is that false saguaro doesn’t require too much care at all. But they need too much sunlight and humidity. 

However, if it is planted indoors, you should provide them extra care like well-drainage soil, repotting very often to grow very fast and to get well-nourished soil, and noticing that they are getting enough direct sunlight.

 Growing Situations to Grow Fast

Sunlight: They love sunlight so give as possible.

Watering: watering is good but overwatering is bad for your pachycereus. Watering once a month is okay.

Temperature: Don’t forget that false saguaro is a desert habitat so they need intense heat.

Soil: In the desert, they can live on a rock without soil support. In-home planting, well-drained soil is extra support to grow faster.

These extraordinary low-maintenance cacti go through without any care. Like other cacti, they can grow from cuttings

 Final Thoughts

There are varieties of saguaro cacti. Overall, they are rare, slow-growing, and precious cacti. No one such lucky that he/she will get such age to see the complete life-cycle of saguaro. To reach full maturity, they need at least 150 years.

Reference:  Some germination requirements of saguaro cactus seeds.

Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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