How to Plant a Saguaro Cactus

Saguaro Cactus in front yard


EuToch / Getty Images

The saguaro cactus is protected, which means that you just can't go out into the desert and dig one up. If you are interested in planting one at your house, you'll need to purchase one from a reputable grower or dealer. The following steps will walk you through the cactus purchasing and planting process.

  • 01 of 10

    Order Your Saguaro Cactus

    Field of saguaro cactus


    Jasmin Donati / EyeEm / Getty Images 

    You should only purchase a saguaro cactus from someone that has a permit and will provide proper documentation upon payment—the process is much like transferring a vehicle title. Once you've purchased your saguaro cactus from a reputable source, they will provide a moving crew and deliver it to your house. Keep in mind that the larger the saguaro and the more arms it has, the higher the price tag will be.

  • 02 of 10

    Arrange for Delivery

    Truck delivering Saguaro Cactus

    Lokibaho / Getty Images

    This saguaro traveled about 40 miles, at 25 miles per hour, to reach its new home. Because of the weight of the cactus, the transport crew had to change trucks. They strapped and braced the cactus to the first truck bed so the arms wouldn't be damaged in transit. Unfortunately, the load was so heavy that it lifted the front two wheels off the ground.

    They then upgraded to a second truck that was a better match for the saguaro's weight. Once they were able to make the transfer and the cactus was safely secured, it was finally time for delivery.

  • 03 of 10

    Dig a Hole

    Gardener digging hole in garden


    temmuzcan / Getty Images

    Before the saguaro has made the trip to your home, decide where you'd like it to be planted. It's important to be certain of the location as you can't change your mind after it's in the ground.

    This transplant required a digging a hole that was about 4 feet deep, and the owners decided to place it in front of their house.

  • 04 of 10

    Position the Saguaro

    Saguaro Cactus on truck in front of house
    ©Judy Hedding

    Angling the saguaro cactus in the right position into the hole is very tricky. This maneuver took the majority of the time during the planting project.

    You'll notice that the saguaro cactus, for all its size and weight, has a very shallow root structure—this makes it much easier for transplanting.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Back the Saguaro Into the Hole

    Saguaro Cactus being dropped into dug hole
    ©Judy Hedding

    Once the angle is correct, the truck backs up so the saguaro cactus can be moved into position. This process is done very slowly and with much care. It's crucial to use braces, chains, and as many supports as needed.

  • 06 of 10

    Transferring the Saguaro

    Unloading Saguaro Cactus

    Lokibaho / Getty Images


    To plant this giant cactus, the crew used a combination of chains and leverage to slide the saguaro into the hole.

  • 07 of 10

    Finish Positioning the Saguaro

    Upright Saguaro Cactus being planted in garden

    Lokibaho / Getty Images

    Once the bottom of the cactus is angled into the hole, the truck slowly backs up to gently push the saguaro into an upright position. The cactus remains braced during this process as it could cause damage—or worse, an injury—if pushed too far forward.

  • 08 of 10

    One Chance to Get It Straight

    Planting Saguaro Cactus


    Lokibaho / Getty Images

    Once everyone agrees the saguaro is vertical, the hole can be filled in with dirt and the chains and braces are removed.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Remove Saguaro Brace

    Remove saguaro cactus brace

    LOUOATES / Getty Images

    When everything is removed, the job will be done. The entire planting process took about two hours.

  • 10 of 10

    Enjoy Your Saguaro Cactus

    Saguaro cactus in front yard

    Jerry Pavia / Getty Images


    You'll notice that no irrigation system has been installed for this tree of the desert—it will not require any special watering. Step back and admire your new saguaro cactus!

Moving a cactus is no small feat—it takes a large amount of effort, labor, and money to bring one to your home. But these desert beauties can transform the look of your yard and be enjoyed for many generations. They can live up to 200 years, so the investment will be well worth it.