Dropping flower buds are sometimes associated with environmental stress. Some saguaros planted in our landscapes don’t end up in ideal locations so we might need to take better care of them than those in the wild desert. 

Courtesy of Dan Hiris.

Q: We have three saguaros in our front yard, two, four and 10 feet tall. All appear to be healthy. The tallest one will get only two or three blooms each year. Before they can open they all dry up and fall off. Do you know what would cause this? Other saguaros in the area will have buds that open up into flowers. The 10-foot saguaro was transplanted into our yard about six years ago.

A: Dropping flower buds are sometimes associated with environmental stress, so first I’m curious to know if they are receiving enough irrigation. Some saguaros planted in our landscapes don’t end up in ideal locations so we might need to take better care of them than those in the wild desert.

Typically, they don’t need much water but they do need some. The recommendation is once every two weeks in the summer, every three to four weeks in the spring and fall, and none in the winter. Of course, you can skip the months where we get significant rain during the monsoon season. If you can rule out the water problem, consider what other factors in your environment could be affecting the area where they are growing.

Peter L. Warren is the urban horticulture agent for the Pima County Cooperative Extension and the University of Arizona. Questions may be emailed to