Ask a Question forum: Unusual type of gardening

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Jun 29, 2017 10:55 PM CST
Hello, I have started a planting research project and I am looking for a kind of plant which be able to grow without almost no water. Only rely only on the occasional rain which might be once or twice a year and mainly moisture of the air. Cactus is a good option but for my purpose it is not good. I am looking for a type with many leaves and branches preferably tree or a plant with large body. Final goal would be to be able to cover a large hot and dry sandy desert area to prevent wind causing dust to cover the whole area.

I am planning to start with a bottle of water enriched with required food for a few month to place close to the seed and that will be only source of water for a few month seed will use to start germination. After germination water inside the bottle finished and it should find its own water and food from sun, rain and moisture on the air. I am looking for such a type to germinate from seed.

Any suggestion on this?

Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Jun 30, 2017 5:36 AM CST
I will be interested to hear whether there are trees such as you describe. I can see that they would be very beneficial in many places.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Jun 30, 2017 9:28 AM CST
I thought the problem with the desert forestation projects was not what to plant but rather how to get roots to take hold when the sand in constantly shifting.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
Jun 30, 2017 12:06 PM CST
The short answer is it's not possible the way you describe. By all means prove me wrong, but let me explain my thinking.

The plants which can survive drought as extreme as you are describing would be very slow growing under the best conditions. They are adapted to survival and opportunism, not fast growth. We experience a 3-6 month drought every year during the summer and the native plants which can survive that either go dormant (drop their leaves and stop growing) or slow down during this period. Imagine a year-long drought (which is the same as getting rain once or twice a year) and you're looking at a very short growth window. If you look at the plants which survive some of the driest deserts on earth (like the Atacama) they have either adapted to capture airborne moisture (fog) or they have mastered not growing most of the time in order to grow a tiny bit some times. Does that make sense? Any experiment in real time would take years and years.

On top of that you're asking the plants to germinate and grow to a drought-resistant size with only a liter or 5 liters of water? Confused As a general rule, you need to provide nursery care to get plants to a size where they can resist drought. When seeds sprout and grow in incredibly dry places in nature, they do it rarely and only when conditions are good to germinate and get big enough to handle drought. In the Arizona desert that might mean the saguaros only sprout and survive one year out of 15, because that year it rained at short enough intervals to nurse the young plants along. The survivors are only going to make it in protected locations and only a minuscule number of seeds will actually turn into plants.

Finally there is the issue of growing in sand, not soil. Our native cactus trees (the cardΓ³n) have been found in pure rock and they have the ability to be primary colonizers of areas with no organic matter. I have seen them getting huge in decomposing granite. But this is a real obstacle for a lot of plants, and definitely not something to be taken for granted.

You're probably going to have to compromise on one or more of these issues but I really like the concept and I'm eager to hear how it works out for you. Smiling There have been quite a few different attempts to deal with the problem you described, some more successful than others, maybe a bit of time in the library would give you a head start.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 30, 2017 12:12 PM (+)]
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
Jun 30, 2017 6:32 PM CST
Agoo ! Howdy ! 😁😁😁
Very ambishis effort. Thumbs up
Would, be great thing ! Thumbs up
Sounds like, your wanting to brainstorm with us. Cool. nodding
Check into plants, and grasses, that grow on sandy beaches.
Best of luck !!! Thumbs up
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.

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