Anyone out there have a joshua tree?

kazooie(kapiti coast, NZ)July 21, 2002

I have been trying to find some information on joshua trees and have not been to lucky in finding much. Does anyone have some experience with this plant? I have one (about five feet tall) that was planted Febuary of 2001. It did ok after it was planted, but the leaves started to slowly fade to a pale green after last summer. Now the leaves are very pale, almost yellow. The nursery where I purchased it from said to water it every two weeks with five gallons of water in the summer, and then water it once a month during the cooler months. I followed these instructions, but now I feel it is not getting watered deep enough, and for the last few weeks I have been giving it a deep watering once a week. I'm hoping this will help. If anyone has any helpful advice, I would appreciate it. I don't want to lose this beautiful plant, and I hope it is not too late.

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Hi -- I don't have a joshua tree (one of my favorites) but if it's like any other desert plant, once it's established, it doens't need extensive watering. You may want to just add a drip irrigation near it and let it get water that way - slowly. We've transplanted lots of cactus and desert plants and palo verde trees and once they were established (major watering), basically let them go on their own. We only dripped our ocotillo so we would get more leaves and flowers, but it wasn't really necessary. I would call the Desert Botanical Gardens and ask their advice. P.S. My desert landscape book says: needs good drainage, part, full or reflected sun, moderate to little water, leaves may dry out and turn light green when in drought, tolerates heat well, very little maintenance. HTH :0) - N.N.Scottsdale, AZ

    Bookmark   July 21, 2002 at 12:13PM
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dvl_(S E Tx)

I am trying to grow a small Joshua Tree here in Houston, Tx but under cover to keep it dry. If the roots are "settled in" and stable--- I would suggest letting it be. They are native to the Mojave side of Az and Nev/ Cal deserts which recieve most of the scant rainfall in winter and have a drier summer monsoon. If the soil stays too wet during summers-it might do more harm than good. All that said-- I must admit to having little experience with them so local experts would be more in tune. In growing mine I am trying to duplicate the seasonal avg rainfall -- hope it works!!

Best of luck


    Bookmark   July 21, 2002 at 2:18PM
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kazooie(kapiti coast, NZ)

Thanks for the advice. I did call the Desert Botanical Gardens and the women there told me that it sounds like my Joshua tree is getting too much sun. So I have drapped a shade screen over it. Plus she advidsed with the drought to water it once a week untill October. I hope this helps. Now I just need to be a little patient and wait.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2002 at 1:49PM
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I live in the High desert of Calif. where the Joshua Trees grow wild. I have seen the county workers transplant the Joshua Trees, first they would mark the tree so that you can plant it in the same direction, north to north and south to south..... Also, Water it after it is transplanted then leave it alone, it shouldnt need anymore water after that. I've had one transplanted. It did great until I decided it needed water. I would water it occasionally. It did the same thing you described. Then a year or so later it fell over dead. I've also seen the transplanting as I described above and the Joshua Trees do just great. Also, here in the High Desert the trees don't get shade, and the temp. can get to 114+ in the summer and 18 degrees and below in the winter. The water they get naturally is the ONLY water they need. Too much WILL kill it.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2002 at 1:35PM
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jcZone8AV(z8 CA AV)

Hello. I'm in the California High Desert also. Joshua trees are native to my area too. I totally agree with sweetlilsheila -- the only shade up here is the tiny bit CAST by the Joshua trees. They are the tallest thing in the desert up here. They are ALWAYS in full sun. The only rain we get here is a little in the spring and winter (a few inches max). 'Flash flooding' describes our rain best, so they are probably not used to anything too deep, either. Hope this helps and good luck.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2003 at 10:02PM
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kazooie(kapiti coast, NZ)

thanks for all the advice everyone. i know i posted the original question months ago. since then, my joshua tree has gone down hill. it held onto a little yellow/green in the leaves until just a few weeks ago, when it started to warm up here. i have finally convinced my husband that it wasn't getting better (he kept thinking it was "looking" better when i kept saying it was getting worse). i wish i could of convinced him back in the fall, which would of been a good time to replace it. now it is too hot and i will have to wait until next fall. oh well, that will give me some more time to do some more research on the care of this plant.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2003 at 10:55PM
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Twocatsandacow(z8 Nevada)

I just joined this website, so missed your message of last year...
We have (had) 3 trees planted when we built our house in 2000. Two have since died. The third I've managed to save by watering it and fertilizing 2x a year with Miracle-Gro. We water by a drip bubbler stuck in the top of the tree so that it mimics natural rainfall. The fellow out here at our cactus garden nursery told me that it can take up to 5 years for a joshua to get well established. Unfortunately, our landscapers didn't tell us they needed water so now we're out several hundred dollars.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2003 at 11:47PM
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kazooie(kapiti coast, NZ)

twocatsandacow, that is an interesting idea of putting the drip on top of the tree. the cactus nursery where we purchased the tree suggested to dump water over the top of the joshua tree, but your method seems much easier, not to mention safer for ones back, then lifting a heavy bucket of water. i might just have to try that when we replace the tree.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2003 at 12:36AM
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Hi Everybody!

I have one huge J Tree on the south side of my house--it must be very old, so we call it "grandfather." The former owner of the property placed the gutter from the house roof in a position right above grandfather, so that the rapid rains we get occasionally will come his way! Grandfather has prospered, and also has quite a few "grandchildren" in the same garden.

By all means, mist your J Tree, since this plant thrives on moisture in the air--J Tree fronds "grab" moisture, then distribute it through the plants exoskeleton. I suggest only a small amount of misted air--a little bit goes a long way.

J Tree roots are not very deep, so keep in mind that the soil you use must be sandy, well-drained, and kept dry most of the time.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2003 at 4:34PM
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ALL desert plants NEED WATER.

"The nursery where I purchased it from said to water it every two weeks with five gallons of water in the summer,"

Utterly ridiculous. For the first summer or two after planting, you need to deeply soak them over the entire root area every few weeks, and 5 gallons of water isn't enough. It died of water deprivation.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2003 at 9:56PM
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cali4dawn(z9 CA)

I have a huge Joshua Tree in my yard (I have many, but one Im concerned about). It stands much taller than my house. I have just recently purchased the home and the tree is dying quickly. I don't know what to do. As jcZone8AV stated, the trees grow wild in this area and do not get watered other than by Mother Nature (which is rare- flash floods once or twice a year). Do they die after a certain age or should I be doing something about it? I have a hard time fully comprehending lazygardens advice when they grow wild everywhere out here without the help of man. I'm very confused at this point.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2004 at 5:08PM
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I live in a Joshua Tree belt a little west of Joshua Tree National Park. There are at least 2 sub species of Joshua Tree. One generally gets much larger than the other. They need sandy well draining soil. They do not like heavy soils. Here they grow with no irrigation, but I have some that have grown faster when their roots can reach a distant source of water. Young plants like to be misted with overhead watering. They catch the water like a pineapple plant. Joshua's can be transplanted easily when small. Problems arise when trying to transplant large plants. These guys have large amounts of very tiny surface roots. On large trees it is almost impossible to dig the tree up with enough roots to support top growth. Here locally the city spent much time and effort trying to move one very old and large tree. They even experimented with several root stimulating formulas trying to get the tree to regenerate it's root system.
Many times developers are required to relocate trees that are in the way. Most if not all the large ones do not make it. Joshuas are prone to termite damage and rot. Do not over water. I have had small plants that were transplanted to 5 gallon containers that received no water other than rain and the misting I gave them the first few weeks. After establishing themselves to pots they went for a year or longer with no other water.
I have one of the largest trees in my area (Hesperia Ca) with a base of 91+ inches around.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2004 at 8:25PM
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JoshuaTree(9b CA)

I live in the High Desert of California (Apple Valley). When we built our home 15 years ago I had two Joshua Trees on the property. One got too much water and died within 7 years. One in backyard about 20' tall only gets water when it rains (not very often) and I don't water it at all. It is very healthy. You can over water them and they will not do well.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2004 at 7:01PM
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kazooie(kapiti coast, NZ)

thanks for all the good info. i am surprised that this post is still going. since i last posted, i replaced my old joshua tree with a new one this last fall. i bought it from a guy in NW arizona who salvages joshua trees and cacti from construcion projects and tries to transplant them on his ranch. to help pay for his project, he sells cacti and joshua trees that grow on his property. so i was able to buy a freslhy dug up tree and transplant it that same day. so far it seems to be doing ok, but i know it may be a while before i see any evidence that it has become established. i told DH that if this one ends up like that last one, i give up on joshua trees and will be happy with another ocotillo instead. he was glad to hear that.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2004 at 8:53PM
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I'd be careful having Joshua's near anything they can squish. Heavy rain will make them fall over.PJ

    Bookmark   July 11, 2004 at 8:02PM
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happyappylover(Pinon Hills, CA)

I just recentley moved up here and I was wondering what the black fungus or mold is on the joshua trees, is it harmful? I also noticed it growing on a lot of other plants... If it is harmful, what can i do to help?

    Bookmark   January 15, 2005 at 5:44PM
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Joshua trees are unusual in their care. Kazooie, quercus1, sweetlilsheila, & JoshuaTree live in areas where the Joshua tree is prevalent, & have the most accurate advice. I have also read there are at least 2 sub species.
I have a couple of Joshua trees. As the people who live in areas where the Joshua tree is native to said, it needs plenty of sun & little water. Too much water can kill a Joshua tree. I do not water mine at all the only water it gets is when it rains. When there is too much rain, I take mine out of the rain so it will not get too wet. Also, these plants should be in a sandy soil, much like the soil they are used to. Some of these desert plants need certain bacteria & fungi normally found in their native soil.
I dont know understand the comment about they grow wild everywhere either. In CA, they are a protected species.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 9:53AM
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I have a beatiful 30plus year old joshua tree, I live in the
Albuquerque New mexico Area. Not alot of rainfall. I bought
this house 17 years ago, I have nevered watered this tree, but I think it gets some water from a lawn that is about 10
to 15 feet away. However, that lawn has only been their 2 or 3 years. Anyway we had a foot of snow between christmas and new years, and a big 20 foot long branch, 12" in diamter broke off. I am wondering if their is any reasonable chance of a successful transplant of this branch, I was just going to dig a hole 3 or 4 feet deep and stick in in the ground, and water it occasionaly. Any comments on this, thanks, Rusty

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 5:09PM
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This has been a very interesting thread. I have often thought about trying to grow a J-tree, and I now have some good info. Thanks to all those who added their piece.

In response to the last post, the chance of such a large "branch" rooting is probably not good. Apparently Joshue Trees are not easily propagated via stem cuttings, which is essentially what you have, and an enormous one. That's awesome that you have such a large individual in Albuquerque though!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 7:40PM
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I picked up some joshua tree seeds from the ranger station in the park, does anyone know the best way to get these started? Also has anyone ever tryed to do a bonsai with a joshua tree? Since they are slow growing, I think they would have a great bonsai. Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 12:53AM
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I have one from seed now two years old ... can't remeber "how i did it". I don't think it was to difficult.
To keep it is as a bonsai .... i don't know if that works.
Growth is very slow, 0,5 - 1 cm a year. I had that idea once, but when you mention that to real bonsai-ist ... mmmm.

Now i just keep tn in a relative small pot indoors ( i don't live in a desert) very little water ... dry from october - april.

It does well. hope to keep it alive for many years ...

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 7:07AM
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I haven't transplanted any of the three (or more) subspecies of Joshua Trees but will do some soon. The following is from my observations of uprooted and established trees in the Indian Wells Valley of California. I'd describe the variants as large lone, diminuitive groups, and standard groups with standard groups prevailing in my area (IWV).

'Standard variant' root structure is that of multiple brittle roots emanating from the base of the stalk/trunk. The more mature 'trees' have a solidified root base that maintains the larger 'tree' upright. Young joshuas often erupt/sprout from roots of the older tree. This means that a large joshua requires the entire root base and as many roots as possible be excavated. It also means that a young tree dug up from the vicinity of the 'mother' tree will lose the benefit of her root system. A flattened hemisphere larger than 4' in diameter for a medium sized tree must be moved without damage and probably 8' or larger in diameter for a 'lone' variant. A transplanted tree requires some additional watering and an established tree needs no additional water or just enough to bloom every other year or so. I've heard the orientation in respect to the sun MUST be maintained.

'Standard type' joshuas are probably symbiotic with termites and subterranean fungi. They naturally fall over when the weight or length of their stems exceed the strength of their root structure. The remains provide detritus and protection for rodents, reptiles, etc and improves the chance for success of the entire clump. The wind shadow traps dust and blown matter and reduces dessication of the area around the clump.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 1:57PM
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I'm moving to a place in Landers, CA and I don't want the 2 joshua trees on my property. I am pretty sure it's illegal to remove them.. is this true? if not does anyone want them? if no one wants them then I think I'll end up watering them a lot lol. I want to use all of my 5 acres for my horses and I don't care for joshua trees. Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2011 at 1:38AM
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hhusty - Check the local regulations. If it's on private land you can usually have them removed, but the person removing them might need tags during transport.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 9:36AM
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Hi there, just joined this forum to get some input on growing Joshua Trees. We went to JT National Park in May and we got back some seeds from the visitor center. I have planted 3 seeds in a pot with soil mixed with sand. It stands in the window sill and looks like this: However it's been almost 3 weeks and nothing has happened to the seed. What am I doing wrong? Too little sand, too much, too much sun.. any help appreciated. thanks.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 6:13AM
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Just a follow up to my own post about planting JT seeds and nothing happening. Seems like the seeds I bought were .. too old, if that could ever be. After acquiring some new seeds off another website, my seeds started sprouting after 3 days only. Now they are really doing well. Take a look at the photo (click the link). Seems like they can grow in Scandinavia.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 7:19AM
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naturelover42(AZ9b Tucson)


Good luck with growing the tree, but it might be too cold and not sunny enough and too rainy in Scandinavia? I'm keeping an eye on this thread, hope you update us about your seedling. I love to experiment too when I'm enthusiastic about a plant. I'm debating about growing one here in Tucson, Arizona.

Below is a profile of the Joshua Tree by a professor at the Phoenix, AZ university.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 7:55PM
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It does get cold here (about -10C during winter), however I hope that they would survive indoors in the windowsill. They are fiesty little ones. I also have 2 growth light stations. That's where I will put my chilis the first 4 months next year. I will have to experiment with some JT's there. Not too sure about the direct (sun)light thing. I have planted 4 JT's and they are growing. Tucson is not too far from the Mojave desert area, I believe. I think it won't be a problem to grow one there. Say, if someone had some photos of the JT growing process, I could benchmark with my own trees to see if they were doing ok.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 1:40PM
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just want to chime in and say thanks for all the chatter on this unique topic. I too am a big fan of the Joshua tree. I grew up in Yucca Valley CA. and as you know, you can't spit with out hitting one up there.

I just planted a seed I got on-line via Amazon, it grew right away to my amazement. it is now about 3 inches tall. from what this post sounds like, I could have a five footer in a matter of a couple years. that's cool. I'll be intouch with updates on my progress, and I hope all-yall keep up the chatter about these magnificent trees,

OH, did I mention I was growing this outside in Colorado at a mile high in the full sun?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2014 at 1:44PM
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Has anyone ever experienced a gooey honey like substance falling from their mature Joshua tree ?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 9:32PM
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I just have to comment after reading what hhusty wrote. It's depressing that a mindset like that exists. We are stewards of the land for the brief time we're here.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2014 at 5:47PM
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I love the three JTs on my lot. They thrive and give me shade, and ask for nothing of me in return. That's what I love about all desert landscaping. If your landscaping needs water, your landscape does not belong there.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2015 at 10:59PM
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