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Monday, April 23, 2018

My Husband Cut Down a Climbing Cactus!

Q. Look what my husband did? He cut my saguaro below the seams before consulting with me.  I know it looked kind of sick (the tree, not my husband), but he cut it. I am going to cut those chunks all the way down. 
Cuts on climbing cactus like these may look bad but they are repairable

A. From your pictures, I don’t think your cactus is a saguaro. I think it is one of the columnar cacti, also called a climbing cactus. Well, it is a setback for the plant because the cuts make it look ugly. The plant doesn’t care, but it is not pleasing to look at.

New growth from just below the cut

            If I’m right, and this is a climbing cactus, those cuts create new growth coming from the ribs just below the cut. The cuts will force new side growth, columns, that continue growing upward.

Propagating columnar cactus

            Another option is to remove all the damaged stems to a couple inches of the ground. Let them “sucker” and regrow below the cut. Remove damaged “arms” entirely if it looks bad. Cut these removed columns or “arms” into 12 inches long segments for planting. Put them in the shade for one to two weeks to heal the cuts before planting.
            After two weeks, plant them in soil amended with compost (not upside down!) with about one third of the 12 inches stuck in the ground. Stake to hold them upright until they grow roots and they don’t fall over. Water every 2 to 3 weeks so that the soil is dry between irrigations.
            Let the columns which weren’t cut continue to grow but “lean” against something upright. These cacti will get tall if they don’t freeze back during a very cold winter.
Many of the columnar cacti are also called climbing cacti. They get so tall they can fall over if they don't lean on something. Many of these cacti do not handle intense sunlight very well in the desert. In response to sunburn to the columns, these cacti will grow new site shoots and propagate themselves.
            In your picture, some columns appeared to be damaged by intense sunlight. This damage was forcing a lot of new side growth from the columns. This cactus will grow much better with amended soil and put in a location where it gets some shade from the late afternoon sun. Now might be a good time to move it to a new location and let it “lean”.


  1. Trichocereus Pachanoi or common San Pedro cactus Not Climbing but columnar . grows tall then breaks off leaving stumps like you see . Just the way it grows .

  2. Trichocereus Pachanoi or San Pedro Cactus. Columnar not climbing . They grow tall then break off and look much like what you have ! Just the way they grow !