Nancy Freeman

Nancy Freeman: “ My biggest mistake was that I would baby them too much.” They are now 10 years old.

State law says you generally don’t need a permit to collect seeds from wild saguaros on state or public land. That’s according to Jack Peterson, associate director of the environmental services division at the Arizona Department of Agriculture.

You need permission from owners of private land to harvest saguaro seed there, Peterson says.

Dan Bach, owner of Bach’s Greenhouse Cactus Nursery, and Greg Starr of Starr Nursery offers tips for getting a saguaro started from seed.


Stella Tucker slices the husk of a saguaro fruit. The fruit, filled with small seeds, has the texture of a fresh fig.

1. If you have a saguaro fruit, scoop the seeds and attached flesh out of the pod and drop them into water. The seeds will sink as they separate from the flesh.

2. Dry the shiny black seeds on paper towels. They can be stored at room temperature for 20 years, Bach says.

3. When daytime temps are between 70 and 80 degrees and the nights are warm, fill a 2- to 4-inch pot with moist cactus mix that drains well, Starr says. He likes a mixture of peat moss, perlite and sand.

4. Sprinkle a few seeds over the top of the soil and water with a mister or by setting the pot in a saucer of water.

5. Germination should happen in a few days. “If you’ve got seeds sitting in pots for two weeks and haven’t seen them, you might want to do something differently,” Bach says.

6. When the plants get to be about the size of a pencil eraser, transplant into a bigger pot.

7. Baby cactus should stay in pots for two or three years to protect them from critters. They then can be planted into the ground.


Saguaros are putting on a grand bloom along and above the Catalina Highway northeast of Tucson.