Desert plants in Western Colorado!

carly_1998July 30, 2012

I live about 10 or so miles west of Glenwood Springs, and 85 miles East of Grand Junction. I live at about 5500 feet elevation. My mom and I went on a trip to the Hi desert in CA this last spring break. It was fantastic. It's great to get away from home for a while. So, because I fell in love with the desert, I've decided I want to take on growing desert plants. Particularly Mojave desert plants. I know that our winters are cold, but summers are usually hot.

The first plant I started to grow was a Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia). I ordered seeds online, and followed what the package said to do. I kind of played around with it and planted one of them a different way than all the others. I had to get supplies for a soil mixture at a local garden store. I wasn't sure any of them would sprout when the package said they would (within 2-3 weeks after germinating). I planted the first one on July 10th in the soil mixture I made in a newspaper pot. This was the one I did differently than all the others. You put the newspaper pot into some kind of container and fill it with a inch or so of water. The soil and seeds will soak up the water. But with the other majority of the seeds I got, I soaked them in water for 24 hours before planting them in PVC pipes along with the soil mixture on the 11th. The PVC pipes were 6 inches in diameter and almost all of them were a foot tall. My mom got many of them (more than I needed). One that I used was more than a foot tall, and the amount of soil I put in there was only about a fourth of the container's height. The other PVC pot I used was a foot tall, and the soil was perfectly set (the soil was about 2-4 1/2 inches from the surface). I honestly thought non of them would germinate, let alone sprout. The one that I thought that would have the highest rate of germination was the newspaper pot. The package said to keep the soil damp. I watered the two PVC pots every now and then. But with the one that had the low soil in it rarely had to be watered because the soil was usually damp. I guess this was because the sun wasn't directly on the surface, so there wasn't much evaporation going on. I have a heat lamp that I can use if the night looks like its going to be cold (cloudless nights are cooler). I have mostly left them outside during the nights because the lowest it will get at this time of year is in the low sixties.

Even though it has been only around 2 1/2 weeks since the majority of my seeds were planted, I honestly thought none of them would survive. I got back today from visiting Denver for my birthday over the weekend. I had left my pots outside for the weekend, but in a place where no rain could drench the seeds. They have been facing East since they were planted. Today, I checked on them to see how they were doing. I expected nothing new. But, to my surprise, one of them in the lower soil pot sprouted!! I was so excited, yet amazed. I was amazed because I didn't think they'd survive in that pot. I didn't think they'd survived at all! But I apparently did a good job of germinating that one. I'm so glad that it did. It looks like a small blade of grass.

Now I've just gotta wait a good 5 years or so for it to get fairly big! Lol! Maybe since that one germinated and sprouted, the other ones will do that soon. I hope so!! Is anyone else growing these? Any tips? From Carly

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

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