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How Long Do Saguaro Cactus Live? Characteristics & Life Span

Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro Cactus is the tallest cactus species in the entire United States. It is also the cactus with the longest life span, as it can live up to 200 years and become 50 feet tall. While many factors affect the lifespan of the Saguaro cactus, their life cycle is unique and different from other cactus species.

If you are interested in learning about the life cycle of the Saguaro cactus and how long it can live, read more below to find out how fascinating this plant is.

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Saguaro Characteristics


The Saguaro Cactus is a slow-growing cactus, although it is the largest cactus in the entire United States. They are easily recognizable by their distinctive tree-like branches. The large branches bend upward, and one cactus can grow as many as 25 branches or none. Like other cactus species, the Saguaros’ entire surface is covered in protective spines. They bloom in late spring with beautiful white flowers, and they will produce red fruits in summer.

Saguaro Cactus
Image By: Danita Delimont, Shutterstock


What is unique about the Saguaro cacti is that they grow exclusively in the Sonoran Desert. The most critical factors affecting Saguaros’ growth are temperatures and water. The Sonoran Desert is rainy throughout the year, although this cactus obtains most moisture during summer rains. If these cacti grow in higher elevations, they can be prone to frost due to the cold weather.

Saguaro Life Cycle and Life Span

Saguaros are a slow-growing species, growing only 1 inch to an inch and a half the first 8 years. The period when Saguaro cacti grow fastest is right before growing branches. The branches typically appear when these marvelous cacti reach the age of 50 or 70, although, in some areas, where the conditions are not perfect, it may take up to 100 years to grow branches. At age 35, the cactus begins to develop flowers, mainly on the end of the main trunk, although they may also appear on the sides.

They will continue to produce flowers until the end of their life cycle. The average lifespan of Saguaros is from 150–175 years. Some plants may even live to be 200 years old. They weigh 6 tons and can become as tall as 50 feet.

Saguaro Cactus
Image Credit: Frauke Feind, Pixabay

How Long Do Other Cacti Live?

Cacti are fascinating plants that are resilient and require minimum maintenance to survive. The average lifespan of a cactus is between 10 and 200 years, depending on the species. There are over 2,000 species of cacti, and many factors contribute to their age. While the Saguaro cactus can live up to 200 years, the prickly pear cactus can live only up to 30 years.

Many factors come into consideration for the average lifespan of cacti. While they require minimum maintenance, some basic requirements are necessary to become established and self-sufficient. The most common problems that occur in cacti are bacterial and fungal diseases, as well as pest infestations. Since it is very hard to treat cacti and eliminate any existing diseases, it is best to monitor the plant carefully and take care of it as suggested.

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Final Thoughts

While the Saguaro cactus is the longest-living cactus species in the United States, some problems may prevent it from reaching its full potential. This cactus is a slow-growing species, meaning that by the time they become 10 years old, they may be only 1.5 inches tall. Nevertheless, their life span surpasses the other cacti species, making the Saguaro cactus unique in every way possible.

Featured Image Credit: Frauke Feind, Pixabay


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