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St George Landscaping, Masonry and Excavation

Caring For Your Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree

With their twisted trunks and spiky, dagger-like spines, Joshua trees are a distinctive feature of the St. George area. If you’ve purchased a home that has a Joshua tree, called yucca brevifolia in botany-speak, you may be wondering how to care for this unique plant. If you want to add a little Dr. Seuss weirdness to your landscape, you might also want to know where you can pick one up. With this in mind, let’s devote some time to some flora so epic it inspired an entire U2 album, aptly titled The Joshua Tree.

About The Joshua Tree

The Joshua tree is a member of the yucca family. Native to the Mojave Desert of Arizona, Nevada, southwest California and Utah, it requires some particular conditions to flourish, namely an elevation of between 3,000 and 6,000 feet. Whether growing wild or part of your home landscape, Joshua trees like full sun and rocky, gritty soil.

Because Joshua trees are becoming increasingly rare, some laws have been enacted to protect them. You can’t collect a Joshua tree from the wild unless you obtain an official permit. And you won’t find them being sold en masse at places like Home Depot.

Caring For Your Joshua Tree

Like any good desert native worth its salt, Joshua trees are drought-tolerant. They do, however, require some irrigation. If you’re caring for a newly-planted young Joshua tree, you’ll want to water it on a weekly basis. In the summer, you can get by with watering an established Joshua tree once a month. Many people say they look better, however, if you give them a deep watering every two weeks.

Some people also like to mist their Joshua trees a few times a week in the summer. It’s a way to mimic the way Joshua trees are hydrated by rain in the wild; the plant’s spines grab moisture from the air before distributing it throughout its exoskeleton.

To Feed Or Not To Feed?

There are different schools of thought when it comes to whether you should feed Joshua trees. Some experts say don’t bother, noting that they grow quite well in the wild without the benefit of fertilization. Others, like members of the Mojave Cactus Club, suggest applying a mild and slightly acidic fertilizer to your Joshua tree in April and October.

Buying A Joshua Tree

You can’t buy a Joshua tree just anywhere. If you’re willing to take a road trip, however, you can travel to Destination: Forever Ranch and Gardens, a desert botanical garden in Yucca, Arizona. They generally have a number of Joshua trees for sale, legally salvaged from areas where development has put the plants at direct risk of being destroyed by construction or road maintenance equipment.

Forever Ranch is willing to ship plants smaller than 3 feet through the mail, but anything larger needs to be picked up in person. The drive is nearly 4 hours, availability varies and there’s not always someone on the property, so it’s best to contact Forever Ranch And Gardens before heading out.

Closer to home, Star Nursery in St. George often carries Joshua trees in the spring. We advise you to call ahead and check on availability, though, as stock are limited. You can also purchase Joshua trees online from retailers like Moon Valley Nurseries and buy Joshua seeds, which are widely available online. Or, you can collaborate with a local landscaper who is expert in tending desert landscapes to obtain the perfect specimen.

Once you’ve got your prickly new showcase plant and and are ready to put it in the ground, you can find comprehensive instructions on how to plant and care for fledgling Joshua trees on the Star Nursery website.

At Stonetree, our expert landscapers specialize in drought-tolerant landscapes. We’re ready to collaborate with you, though, whether your taste runs to Mojave wildland or English garden. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.