Thursday, July 26, 2012

Saguaro seedlings (Carnegiea gigantea)

Yo! Back again with another Blog. This time about the most famous cactus in the world, the one that looks like a candle and appears in many western movies, THE cactus that people see in their imagination when they hear the word cactus; the Saguaro, which is actually the Native American name. Carnegiea gigantea is what botanists call this plant. Gigantea should ring your bell and tell you that this friend can get huge! Right... But it will take at least 100 years till it reaches its giant-like height.

Seriously, if you see those giants in their natural habitat, it's kind of impressive. The oldest plants are probably about 250 years old, but we can't be 100% sure. They can reach up to 18 metres in height and many people assume that this is the largest cactus in the world. And that's something I'm not quite sure about. Pachycereus pringlei also gets kind of big and many botanists can probably name you a couple of other giants that might win this match (Brasiliopuntia brasiliensis for example).

Anyway, C. gigantea flowers at the age of 30. Their white flowers open at night and it are mainly insects and bats that take care of the pollination part. You can find them in Arizona (the Saguaro blossom is the state's Wildflower) and California, but you'll also see a couple of them in Mexico. Their first branch may appear when they're around 75 years old.

I won't copy-paste images that I've found on Google, so I'll just post a link to Cactiguide.com where you can find enough cool pics. CLICK HERE

Ow... Another thing... Of course I'm growing this plant! It wasn't my meaning to just write something about this species. This Blog is actually about the progress from the seed till they've reached the age of 1 year and 3 months.

1 year and 3 months old.
Saguaro seedling

From the start

The photo above is taken earlier this week, but I'll show you the progress from the start. On the right side-bar of this Blog already was an album showing all these photos, but this plant is Blog-worthy. So... Tadaaaa! Here they are:

6 days after they've been sown.
6 days after they've been sown.

They didn't show any problem with germination at all. If I remember well, 17 popped up within 2 weeks. Nothing to complain about when you've sown 20!

I always use any type of plastic container or bucket I can find that has a lid, mostly ice-cream-buckets. Then I just make some holes in the bottom, so that the water can easily escape (we don't want a swimming pool).

The soil I use consists of 50% Cocopeat, 30% Perlite and 20% fine gravel. I'm planning to change my mixture in the future; instead of 30% perlite, I'll use 20% Turface and 10% Perlite. I've had some good experience with a random seed-mixture which I've sown at the same time and it went surprisingly well.


1,5 month old.
1,5 month old.
Between the age of 2 and 3 weeks their spines appeared and they started to look like cacti.


2 months old.
2 months old.
After 2 months it's time to give them some fresh air. I do this by opening the lids a bit and then after each week I open them a bit more. This way they can slowly get used to a dryer air. 3 weeks later I remove the lids completely.


2 months and 1 week old.
2 months and 1 week old.
Just a close-up... Check out the 'leafs' on the sides that are slowly disappearing.

3 months old.
3 months old.

4 months old.
4 months old.

5 months old.
5 months old.

6 months old.
6 months old.

7 months old.
7 months old.

1 year old.
1 year old.

 1 year and 3 months old

And here are the photo's that I've taken this week, 1 year and 3 months after I've sown them:


1 year and 3 months old.
1 year and 3 months.
Now this is what they look like right now. Of course I've chosen the biggest and prettiest one when I took the photos. =P What can I tell about them? I've re-potted them for the first time when they've reached the age of 1 year. Something that I won't do again, because they turned a little greyish within a week and it took them a couple of months to look healthy again. Right now they do look happy and they're all growing again. Check out these close-ups:


1 year and 3 months old.
1 year and 3 months.
1 year and 3 months old.
1 year and 3 months (the same plant, but taken from above)

Double-headed Saguaro

Rare double-headed saguaro, 1 year and 3 months old.
Saguaro double-headed, 1 year and 3 months old.
My double-headed Carnegiea gigantea. I guess this is something rare, because I can't find another one like this on the web. It's some sort of rare, mutant growing form that happens once in a while. And... It's growing healthy! I wonder what it'll look like in the future.

Rare double-headed saguaro, 1 year and 3 months old. (taken from above)
Saguaro double-headed, photo taken from above.
The cool thing about this double-headed cactus is that Saguaros, like I've written above, only get their first branches at the age of 75. This little fellow already has his 'branch'. I mean... Okay, it's a second head, but I don't complain. It'll be probably great to see this one grow up healthy.

Last year in the Rotterdam Zoo

Yup, that's me next to a 'small' cactus comparing it to what it will become one day. Can you imagine that there are giants around that are almost 10 times bigger than this one?

Well... You're at the end of this article now. I hope to write more about Carnegiea gigantea later, but it will probably take a while, because they're slow growers... Till next Blog!