Planting In The Desert ?

Microthrix(9)June 12, 2012

Since me and my family make annual trips to death valley and joshua tree national park, i though of planting something in the desert so i could see it grow year after year ... but i have some qquestions...

1 -is this even allowed?

2 - if so what would be the perfect thing to do for this?

3 - will it become invasive? I really dont want to introduce something that could ruin the whole ecosystem ...

Maybe an agave?

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I don't have answer to 1. & 2., but suggestion to 3.:
google list of invasive plants for that state.
( The 2006 listof California Invasive Plant Inventory includes 39 High species, 65 Moderate species, and 89 Limited species)

I like your idea, just find out if allowed (I would think why not?)

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 7:30AM
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Of course, planting anything in a National Park is a crime, so definitely avoid that! = )

I also would NOT plant introduce ANYTHING non-native in a natural habitat - history is replete with examples of how those innocent actions wreak havoc in the future.

I would find someone with a nice big yard/property in the desert and ask them if you could perform your experiment there.

And, if the goal is to simply see something grow from year to year, then the best thing you could do is plant a NATIVE plant to the area you are planting.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 10:43AM
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alex_i(8 Las Vegas, NV)

Hi Microthrix,

Living in Las Vegas, Death Valley National Park is one of my favorite recreation area in the fall winter, spring. Hiking, bicycling, and off-roading is mostly what I do, so I have gotten to know many of their rules intimately, sometimes learning the hard way when I inadvertently catch the ire of the Park Rangers (they are very strict in DVNP).

Go to to find their complete list of RULES and REGULATIONS; under RESOURCES PROTECTION it states:
� Introducing wildlife, fish or plants, including their reproductive bodies, into a park area ecosystem is prohibited.

It also references CFR 36, which I believe means Code of Federal Regulations (title) 36. Even though I do not know Joshua Tree NP rules, I imagine it would follow CFR 36.

You have a great idea, though. My suggestion is why not plant it just outside of the borders of the NP? There is so much open space around these parks and you would not be bound by the Feds. See ya in Death Valley sometime :-)
Remember this once in a lifetime bloom?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 11:19AM
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I agree with Tristan--Introducing a non-native, or even a native grown non-localy may introduce insects and diseases that could wipe out local plants.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 11:19AM
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Absolutely agree with you. Micro, you'd do well to do that. Or if you want to help the desert out, join a volunteer group that cleans desert areas up.


I know about CFR 36 (wrt wind turbines) - that's a great picture - I hope it graces your walls somewhere.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 12:15PM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

I would not introduce any non-native species, there is no telling how widespread it could become, and if so, how big of an impact it could have on local wildlife.
This is from the California Invasive Plant Council:
"When plants that evolved in one region of the globe are moved by humans to another region, a few of them flourish, crowding out native vegetation and the wildlife that feeds on it. Some invasives can even change ecosystem processes such as hydrology, fire regimes, and soil chemistry. These invasive plants have a competitive advantage because they are no longer controlled by their natural predators, and can quickly spread out of control."

Don't plant something that could go out of control simply for your amusement. It could change the landscape permanently. Instead, plant something native and watch it grow.

If you MUST plant something, go with what Tristan said and find someone who lives there who would let you plant in their yard. Introduced species can bring about disease and insects. Take the Citrus greening virus, for example, that was introduced from Asia and is now threatening to destroy California's billion dollar citrus industry as well as every backyard citrus tree in the state. Luckily for me, my trees are looking healthy, but there's no telling how soon it will be until they are infected with it.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 12:42PM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

Sorry for the double post, Here is Death Valley National Park's official native plant list

And here is the native plant list for Joshua Tree National Park'

I would be very wary of planting Agave. You would have to consider what species to plant, as they tend to become extremely invasive and very difficult to eradicate once out of control. I have seen Agave Deserti and Agave Shawii both in the San Bernardino Mountains that border the Mojave Desert, and in parts of the Mojave desert (keep in mind this desert is huge.) I don't remember seeing any agave in the Death Valley region.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 12:58PM
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alex_i(8 Las Vegas, NV)

Great suggestion on volunteering. Our cycling group is involved in the local Las Vegas desert cleanup/preservation efforts and is very gratifying.

I took that pic (of wife, daughter) in spring of 2005 near Ashford Mills ruins, facing NE towards Funeral Peak. It's one of the best blooms in history for Death Valley. Yes, it graces my real walls and virtual walls (i.e. computer screensavers). Serves as a constant reminder to me that nature does a much better job of planting in the desert than any of us could :-)


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Are mammillaria native to either of these two parks ? I once saw something that looked like a mammillaria in a crack in a rock while i was climbing it ... what is it by the way? I REALLY want one

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 5:06PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I would not do it either. I was listening to some experts talk about doing land restoration in a pristine arid wilderness and they are incredibly clean about how they grow things and prepare their material. One has to worry about what microbial and bug life that you are introducing and what seed that you might have inadvertently unknowingly have in your soil. Get involved in a land restoration project if this is where your interest lie. Don't fool around with wilderness. Put yourself in a position you can learn from experts.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 7:02PM
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Ok ... i think im gonna do the thing about asking someone if i can plant on their private land ... thanks guys!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 7:38PM
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