Saguaro

I bet you didn’t know that Saguaro cacti can suffer from weight problems, did you?

Well in my travels through countless neighborhoods, I have seen my fair share of ‘fat’ saguaro cacti.

So, are ‘fat’ saguaro feasting upon too much fast food?  I don’t think so….

Believe it or not, it isn’t totally their fault that they are fat.  The homeowner usually bears some responsibility. 

Weight problem

Weight problem

Here is a great example of a saguaro that needs to be put on a diet.

Seriously, it is quite fat.

Can you see why?

Well, all cacti are specially adapted to take advantage of any nearby water source.  

When it rains, they quickly send out tiny roots that are very close to the surface.  These roots absorb all the water they can and then dry up and die once the ground dries out.

In a landscape setting, the roots will grow towards the nearest water source and keep ‘drinking water’…..usually the water that is irrigating your other plants.

In the photo above, the saguaro is getting quite a bit of water for the citrus tree behind it.

Weight problem

Here is another saguaro that has a weight problem.

It isn’t full of fat…..just too much water.

saguaro

I took this picture of a client’s saguaro that was planted amidst two shrubs that were being irrigated regularly.  You can see that the ‘folds’ are almost non-existent.

Unfortunately, I see this quite often.  To avoid having this happen to you, do not place any irrigated plants near your saguaro.  (I am assuming that you do not water your saguaro).

How far away should irrigated plants be kept away from a saguaro?

Well, a saguaro’s roots extend out roughly the same distance as its height and sometimes twice as far.  So, make sure to place your irrigated plants out at least that far.

So what do you do if you already have a ‘fat’ saguaro?  

Well first off, remove any nearby, irrigated plants and plug up the irrigation emitters.  Then substitute other succulent plants that will require very little water (below).

saguaro

So, are you fortunate enough to have a saguaro in your landscape?

I wish I was….. 🙂

Death of a Saguaro

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
3 replies
  1. Ada
    Ada says:

    I AM lucky enough to have a saguaro and mine gets no supplemental water and looks just right :). I have, however, see the fat saguaros in my neighborhood but had no idea what caused it. The ones that have lost their ridges look grotesque – like they are about to explode. Like a person that is all puffy.

  2. Rohrerbot
    Rohrerbot says:

    I wish we were too. No saguaros on our property. Some homeowners are careless with the ones they have while others do a nice job letting them alone.

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