Not crazy for cactus…yet

I’ve planted and grown many plants over the years, but I can remember having only two cactus plants.

One was a gift from my friend, David, who gave me specific instructions to put it in my office, by the computer.  It died about 3 years later.  I am sentimental with gifts, and feel bad that I killed a slow-growing, easy-care plant, that can live for over 100 years.

And then there’s the second cactus, a saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea)…which, amazingly, I still have.  This cactus is special to me — even if once in a while I get a poked by its needles — because my daughter planted it from seed.

My 17-year-old saguaro cactus, grown from seed.

Years ago, I went to Phoenix for a business trip.  At the Phoenix airport,  I purchased a package of saguaro seeds as part of my pasalubong items for my daughter.

Saguaro cactus are found in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and Mexico.  It can grow up to 70 feet, and live for over 150 years.

My cactus is about 17 years old, and just over 14 inches tall.  Talk about slow-growing!  At this stage (without “arms”) it is called a spear.  It will eventually grow an arm, after about 75 years.

So, if I manage not to kill it, and if my grandsons want it, they may see it grow an arm in their lifetime.

When I gave the seed packet to my daughter, she placed the seeds in a little pot with dirt, watered it, and we quickly had about 20 little seedlings.  One particular seedling took charge of the space, and all the other seedlings died.  We did not pick a particular seedling, nor thin them out.  It’s as if they all knew which seedling was boss, and simply died to allow the boss seed to grow in the space.

I’ve re-potted the saguaro just once.  Honestly, I am surprised that it is still alive.  It does have a brownish area in the bottom, so I don’t know how much longer I will have it.  Maybe it is time for a bigger container.

The silhouette of a large saguaro stands at sunset in Saguaro National Park on the east side of Tucson, Arizona. Photo via wikepedia files.

As much as I love  plants, I am not exactly crazy about cactus.

Maybe it’s the needles, and the poke factor.  I don’t like plants that can puncture my skin and make me bleed.  I do make an exception for old fashioned roses, since in return, I get to inhale one of the loveliest scents in existence.

A visit to Jardines de San Juan, a Mexican restaurant located in the historic mission town of San Juan Bautista, California, inspired me to learn more about my saguaro cactus.

The Jardines garden has an abundance of cactus, some of which I photographed using my phone camera.  Many were sporting beautiful flowers.  Below are a few of the shots…

Jardines De San Juan, back patio area June 2012

Learning more about my saguaro has given me a whole new appreciation for cacti, and may get me to bring another in our home.  For now though,  I must first get some heavy-duty gloves and re-pot the one I have.

Which cactus camp are you in….crazy for cactus?  Or…keep those spiky plants away from me!

And if you are curious to know how long cactus seeds keep (or are viable)…check out the comment section on Lolako.com’s “Contact” page, here.   Can you guess?

  • over 20 years?
  • over 200 years?
  • or for over 2,000 years?

4 thoughts on “Not crazy for cactus…yet

  1. Pingback: The Saguaro Menorah | Lola Jane's World

  2. Yes, I was in your camp for a long time: cactus…indifference, why all the pokey things, not very pretty. Several of my friends and my brother are crazy over succulents, which I still didn’t understand until one day I saw them as personalities: unusual, quirky, (mostly) resilient.

    How is your saguaro cactus doing? Yeah, that’s the only thing – some of them grow so sloooowly…

    Thanks for directing me to this older post and the heads up on the place in San Juan Bautista!

    • My Saguaro cactus is still alive, amazingly. It might make it to someday grown an arm, long after I’m gone. I should water it, thanks for the reminder 🙂 .

      Since you like succulents, I think you will find the visit to Jardines in San Juan Bautista worthwhile. Even better if you like Mexican food, but if not, then at least have a margarita and enjoy the cactus collection outside, in the patio. We went in June, and there were so many unique flowers on the plants.

      I may turn a corner about succulents too, good descriptions as being “unusual, quirky”…and the part I like the best is that yes, they are resilient. Too bad I managed to kill the one my friend David gave me.

      • Did someone say margarita?? Sounds like my kind of place.

        Yes, there are sooo many different kinds of succulents – it’s interesting which ones draw you in with their unique personalities!

Now that you are here, I would love to know what you think...comments are always appreciated.