Many of us would love to have a large stately Saguaro in our yard, but aren’t lucky enough to have one already or don’t have decades to wait for a small one to grow up. The alternative could be an Argentine saguaro (Trichocereus terscheckii, Figure 1). Also known as Echinopsis terscheckii, it is called cardón in its native land. Not only is this a beautiful plant in its own right, it is extremely fast growing if given a little TLC. Who says cacti are slow growing? Extra water, good soil and a smidge of fertilizer will make this plant rocket at over a foot per year in average growth (Figures 2, 3). (I have seen them grow 18 inches a year MAD).
The plant has beautiful golden spines that seem to grow larger and more colorful as the plant matures. Give it a western exposure and it will glow in the afternoon and evening (Figure 4). This arborescent cactus loves full sun and is hardy to at least 15 degrees F; it shouldn’t have much of a problem anywhere in the Tucson area. It will eventually reach upward of 25 feet and will form numerous branches.