Growing a Joshua tree

Day 1 | Day 5 | Day 15

label for Joshua tree kit

When he was here in November, my friend Dave from Vancouver made a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park. Ever the good guest, he came back with a small kit to grow one's own Joshua tree, which he gave to me to express his gratitude for the fine hospitality he had received Chez Paul.

I couldn't help but observe that although the kit included about 10 seeds (one presumes they are seeds — they looked more like circles punched from somewhat hairy dark green felt), the pot provided for the "giant Joshua tree" measures just 1.5in (3.8cm) in diameter at its widest point. Something tells me I should not set my expectations very high.

pot containing planted Joshua tree seeds

Day 1 (08-Jan-03)   Given my sorry track record with house plants, it is with some trepidation that I even start this project. Nevertheless, I have.

According to the instructions, "the young Joshua Tree should begin to appear on the surface in 10 to 21 days from planting," and it will look like a blade of grass. I am re-assured that my Joshua "can reach four to six feet in ten years."

We'll see!


sprout emerging from soil

Day 5 (12-Jan-03)   Is that a sprout I see peeking from the soil?

If it is a Joshua Tree sprout, it is certainly a precocious Joshua Tree — according to the instructions they weren't supposed to sprout until 10 to 21 days from planting. This is only the 5th day.

You don't supposed somebody slipped a Jack-and-the-beanstalk seed into the packet, do you?


sprout becomes erect and grows a branch

Day 15 (22-Jan-03)   The first Joshua Tree sprout has undergone significant changes in the past two days, this after nearly 10 days of no apparent change.

  • First, the stem has thickened and become strong enough to lift the seed casing free from the soil
  • Second, the stem has developed a small branch

This morning I took young Joshua out onto the patio to bask in the warm sun. My neighbor Wanda happened along and was curious about this tiny plant: "What's that supposed to be?" she demanded. When I explained that it was a young Joshua Tree, Wanda replied, "Well, I think it has a long way to go; I hope you live long enough." I like Wanda — she gets directly to the point.

I am rather proud of the young sprout's progress. Perhaps I should start carrying a picture in my wallet!

So far, there is no sign of activity on the part the other seeds. If it turns out to be just this one, that makes pretty poor odds of survival.