Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Argentine Giant Cactus

Pic taken up in Phoenix from a friend's backyard.
From all the evil that happened this past winter, there were some beautiful things that did occur in our Tucson gardens. Everyone was talking about this strange cactus bloom at night with the most amazing flowers ever. So fellow Tucsonans, gardeners and non-gardeners alike, stayed up(or got up very early) just so they could snap shots of these gorgeous flowers. It also became the year that people wanted to give me transplants because this cactus spread out into areas that they didn't want cactus growing. With my tongs, gloves, and a cardboard box, I happily obliged careful not to damage their cactus. This particular cactus has long arms that move horizontally over the ground. If you do place it into your landscape, it will turn into a groundcover type plant that will sprawl outwards instead of upwards. But the limbs can get very large!! Many people will place these cactus below their mesquite or palo verde trees. Some even try to fence these beasts in, but it can't be done:) So during this scary month of October while temps are still warm, think about trying one of these monsters out in your yard. Definitely do it before winter temps arrive so that the cactus can establish itself a bit. This plant did well during our frost event making it even more attractive in my eyes. My segments are doing really well and actually growing!!!
Taken from my friend's house
This is a columnar cactus with each segment fast growing up to 4 inches wide, 3 feet tall, and clumping 6 - 7 feet wide. Some reports say that they only clump to about 3 feet but as you can see from the top photo, this cactus can turn into a monster and spread over a large area.  It has strong smelling blooms that normally open at night and will stay that way until early morning. The bright white petals and yellow centers attract our night time visitors like the bat, moth, or some early morning bee visitors . While it is said to be a nocturnal blooming cactus with the flowers closing at early morning, this cactus will sometimes stay open on cloudy days.  The blooms don't last long, but there are so many of them that the flower show will go on for a couple weeks!  Echinopsis candicans is low water use, but it will require some water during our hot summer months. Phoenix gardeners make sure you water much more frequently as it gets much hotter in your area. It prefers deep infrequent watering and in well-drained soil. The pics you see on this blog are from a friend's garden in Phoenix and she has to water her cacti garden often during the summer because it gets so hot.  In Phoenix, I'd place this cactus under some shade.  In Tucson, it can handle a little bit more sun, but again with some afternoon shade.

Height: Height to about 2-3 feet. Spreading to about 6-7 feet.
Flowers: White or near white with bright yellow centers, fragrant
Blooming Time: March - April.
Suitable for xeriscaping.
Native to Argentina.


  1. This cactus is amazing -- but a little bit scary to me. P.

  2. That is a nice one - I had hope for the S American columnar cacti, but I guess the largest "water tank" in the sky our region can support is a Fishhook Barrel and a Compass Barrel!

  3. Please help! After arriving back to Phoenix from Canada, I was informed by my neighbour that my beautiful Argentine Giant we planted a year ago now had fallen over!! Now it was covered in weeds as we were gone 5 months and it is mostly yellow, it has 'babies'but here,s the thing..a lady @ Lowe's Garden Centre told me she waters here cactus everyday & they are fine..so feeling sorry for them I watered them 1X a week for the first two weeks I,ve been here..then noticed them yellowing even more!! another lady said NO don,t water them they don,t need the water, and the yellow means too much water..can,t seem to get a straight answer and want to save the poor thing!! its already flowered for us last Mar/Apr also read after a cactus blooms it won,t die???

  4. Hi there!!!
    Sorry to hear about your cactus. It sounds like the main arm is toast, but your babies might be the ones you try to save. Cut back your watering. The yellow can mean overwatering or possible rot somewhere on the cactus. This is just me, but I might wait a bit before cutting anything up. Is it getting more sun than usual because a tree was removed, etc? This particular cactus likes to be placed in a bit of shade from the hot Phoenix afternoon sun. There are several factors that can affect this plant. I think it's more a water issue though. If the arm goes and completely dies, remove it and encourage the babies to take over that space. Good luck.

  5. I’ve had an Argentine giant which I started from a tiny cutting for over 7 yrars. I replanted into the ground last year. It has grown substantial since then, but it has never bloomed.

  6. After My friend gave me a piece of Argentina Giant, pease tell me what I need to do next?
    Your help would be greatly appreciated

    1. Nice! Plant in the shade and let it sprawl. It does like some indirect light but makes a lovely ground cover under a tree. Let the piece scab over for at least a week. If you have already done that, then stick in the ground and watch it grow. It's a beauty! I do very little with that cactus. And the blooms! Good luck!

  7. thanks for all the wonderful information. mine is quite large now after finaly planting it in the ground with good cactus soil.. its been several years now. However I did plant it in full sun. wonder if I should try to transplant in shade or try to build some sort of shade cover.


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