Cactus #49 False Saguaro – Pachycereus Pringlei

Pachycereus Pringlei

This cactus is also know as False Saguaro, Cardon or the Mexican Giant Cardon Elephant Cactus.

Native to northwestern Mexico, the False Saguaro can be found in the states of Baja California – both northern and southern.

The tallest living cactus is a specimen of Pachycereus Pringlei.

If you have an opportunity to see these in Baja the size is awe inspiring.

Size and growth rate

In general an average mature Cardon may reach a height of 30 feet, but individuals as tall as 60 feet are known to exist. It is a slow-growing cactus with a lifespan measured in hundreds of years. Many adult Cardon have several side branches that may be as massive as the trunk. These trees may attain a weight of 2500 pounds or more. Like a Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), can take up to 50 years to produce the branches.

This is the growth history for cactus #49 – False Saguaro.

I’ll add new images and details to the top of the post from time to time. If you would like to see the growth pattern of this cactus from the beginning please scroll to the bottom of this post and read bottom to top.

This cactus has grown nearly 7 inches in 14 months. The top growth which started this spring accounts for more than 2″ of the total growth. Prior to the crown growing from the top, the top of the cactus turned black. I was concerned that the few days of frost we experienced had caused serious damage but as the weather warmed up cactus #49 started growing again. If you’re thinking about adding a Pachycereus Pringlei to your garden they are usually available at your local cactus nursery, Home Depot store (AZ), or even online from places like

Care and feeding

We live in Wickenburg, AZ. Wickenburg is at an elevation of 2000′. The hardiness zone is 9a. I generally water 1 time per month November – February. I add more water as the weather starts to warm in March, building up to watering every 15 days even in the the hottest (100-110+) months. I use Miracle-Gro Liquafeed All Purpose plant food one time per month. Cactus are very “scrappy'” they’re survivors which is one of the reasons I love them, it also means they can survive best with very little water or added nutrients. Most cactus like their sandy, rocky soil to dry out completely between waterings.

April 2022 – Over the winter the top of the cactus turned black. As the weather began to warm up the area that had blackened began to grow a new “crown.”

Pachycereus Pringlei November 2021

2021 November

As you can see, this cactus has really had a growth spurt! The Pachycereus is often referred to as a slow grower, and I’m sure when comparing to other cactus types, it may be, but comparted to a Saguaro – Carnegiea Gigantea, this cactus is a sprinter.

In just 4 months it’s grown 2 inches.

False Saguaro, 2021 August

2021 August

I separated the plants, leaving the largest of the 4 in the original location.

This cactus was about 12.5″ tall.

Pachycereus Pringlei

2021 July

This cluster of Cardon cacti was purchased together.

I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about this plant when I purchased it, but realized quite quickly the strongest, largest plant was crowding out the smaller plants.

I separated the 4 plants and moved them to different locations in the garden.

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