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I found these huge cacti in a garden-center, the two on the right. The largest in the back was over 1.5 m in length! They were a little bit too expensive, so I thought maybe start from seed...

What species is this, and how long does it take before they are as large as these? And how to get them this big, is that possible as houseplant, or do you need a greenhouse for this?

Huge cacti

Edit: I went back to the garden center, and found names on the labels! The two tall ones on the right are indeed South American cacti. They are called Trichocereus pasacana, a.k.a. Echinopsis atacamensis. So Echinopsis was a very good guess (see accepted answer). The two on the left were Pachycereus pringlei, just like the answer suggest!

The little one between the two tall ones on the right was sold, so I couldn't see what it was.

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    to grow from seed to this size with the compact growth you see could take ten to twenty years. – kevinsky Aug 5 '18 at 10:41
  • @kevinsky, wow in that case I better start finding some seeds! – benn Aug 5 '18 at 11:11
  • @b.nota How old are you? Must be nice to think 10 to 20 years is a short time. There are so many cactus starts that are available and inexpensive and starts are always a better way to grow anything unless one is a major nursery that produces starts. Or seed. – stormy Aug 5 '18 at 23:14
  • Greenhouse would be the only way to get specimens this big. Depending on how much light (need to be in a green house or under artificial lighting or out of doors in Arizona), proper fertilization and watering of course and proper soils for cactus in pots. Potting soil not garden soil. Light and heat are important. Environmental stability (green house)...tiny bit of fertilizer. These are obviously a mix of at least 2 species of barrel cactus. Check out the thorn clusters. Or were you being facetious? – stormy Aug 5 '18 at 23:19
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    Where do you live? Greenhouses can be incredibly affordable, easy to DIY. Cactus need a dry atmosphere which is tough to do in a greenhouse. Lots of fans, ability to open much of the lower part of the greenhouse...what is your goal? Idea of a goal? Gosh, a simple 12X8'X5' poly tunnel is just a wonderful space to create, to go hide! – stormy Aug 6 '18 at 8:55
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The two plants on the left are either Carnegiea gigantea or Saguaro or Pachycereus pringlei or Mexican/Sonoran Saguaro. They look very similar at this stage.

They look to be 10-15 years old. My mother bought a P. pringlei this size 7 years ago and it is now over 8 feet tall and flowered this past spring. They grow arms more quickly than Saguaros. Saguaros on the other hand grow more slowly.

The tall plant front and center might be Echinopsis terscheckii. The spines look a little sparse to be E. terscheckii, but spines are not a reliable indicator of species. This plant would also grow into a very large columnar cactus.

I have no idea what the plant in the back right it. I suspect it's another South American columnar (there are LOTS of them).

How quickly a cactus grows is dependent on a number of factors including sun, temperature, water, nutrition, etc. There's no way around it, you can't really push a Saguaro. You might get a P. pringlei to 8 feet in 10 years with perfect conditions and effort.

They all look like nice, healthy, well grown plants. I suspect the E. terscheckii is a rooted cutting. The picture isn't clear enough to ID the little plant. Stetsonia coryne is a possibility.

Except in very unusual circumstances, you won't grow a plant like this in doors in pots like that. Outdoors is possible, depending on where you live.

I"m curious, where is this garden center located?

  • You know a lot about cacti, thank you very much! I thought the two big ones on the right were the same species... But now that you mention it they seem a little different. I found them in a garden center in Amsterdam, I don't know where they get their cacti (they don't grow them themselves). Thanks for the Latin names, now I know what to look for (in seeds or cuttings). – benn Aug 6 '18 at 19:04
  • Thank you and you're welcome! There are a lot of cactus growers in Europe who can supply seeds or plants. There are plenty of cactus that tolerate lower temperatures, less sunlight and more humidity. I've enjoyed growing cactus for some time now. I grow mostly small/miniature plants that thrive in hot, dry deserts. I enjoy the big ones but they need to be in the ground for best results, IMO. – Tim Nevins Aug 6 '18 at 20:54
  • Just to satisfy my curiosity, how much were they asking for those plants? In Arizona they'd go for somewhere between $75 and $300 depending on where you get them. The pictures show super nice plants that would definitely be in the more expensive range. – Tim Nevins Aug 6 '18 at 20:57
  • The biggest was 299 euro (~ $346), the smaller ones a little less but in the same order. – benn Aug 7 '18 at 7:18
  • Not surprising. Those are more "art" than plants. – Tim Nevins Aug 7 '18 at 13:18

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