As an effort to protect some of the plants on the Sky’s The Limit property prior to their being graded up as portions of the grounds are cleared, on June 28, 2007, four volunteers visited the site and dug up a few plants, took cuttings from others, and watered a couple of others prior to future transplanting. Plants included in these transplanting efforts were Mojave Yucca (Yucca shidigera), white rhatany (Krameria grayii), desert senna (Senna armata), calico cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii), silver cholla (Opuntia echinocarpa), pencil cholla (Opuntia ramosissima), and a spiny menodora (Menodora spinescens).
With a need to move ahead with clearing the property, some transplanting efforts may turn out to be non-productive; however, the survival rate of desert plants, especially cactus can be amazing. Recommendations for transplanting of desert plants during the summer ranged from wait till the fall, water heavily for a couple of days before digging up the plants, dig up the plants and let them dry out for a couple of days, burry with heavy watering, burry dry, to cut off stems and burry dry or wet. So, all suggestions are going to be considered, some will be attempted, and some efforts will be made to identify which plants receive which treatments.
Cuttings from pencil chollas were placed in about eight holes in two lines, some watered, some not, plus an intact pencil cholla about three feet tall was transplanted. The latter was watered before digging up and after transplanting. Two small silver cholla, single stemmed and about a foot tall were transplanted. Three small Mojave Yuccas were transplanted. These were about 12 to 20 inches in height. They were all watered both before and after. A couple of additional Yuccas were watered and left for future transplanting, also understanding that they might do better if watered for a couple of days prior to relocating. There are more than a dozen large Mojave Yuccas currently in the construction clearing zone that are destined to be lost, because of their large size. One small desert senna was watered then dug up and transplanted, then watered thoroughly. This plant was relocated to a spot next to three very black, dead desert sennas, attesting to the fact that hardy desert plants, like sennas, will succumb to four or five years of drought. At least three other sennas along the site entrance road were watered and left to be relocated. An additional senna was watered in an area that looks like the middle of the road to the future parking. The calico cactus that was relocated was also right in the middle of the main entrance road. It was a plant with about four or five main stems or joints, with the tallest being about 12 inches high. Because cactus do well in rocky soils, a lot of the rocks, along with the soil, surrounding this plant were taken along with the plant. This was the case with all of the plants.
In an effort to keep the nutrients in the soil that the plants were interacting with, surrounding soil was dug up and moved with the plants. The spiny menodora plant was old and very spiny, and only
about four inches high and about six inches across. It still had some green stems and was right in the middle of the entrance road, so begged to be moved. It was watered, but only slightly then
transplanted with a basin dug around it for some future watering attempts. This plant has been found just inside the north entrance to the Park, about 200 yards south of this site, but is somewhat
limited in its distribution. The transplanted white rhatany was about two feet high and two feet across. It was watered several times throughout the morning then transplanted with a basin for future watering.
One foxtail cactus or Alverson’s nipple cactus, (Escobaria vivipara, var. alversonii), was discovered this day in an area destined possibly to be future parking. It is a once-considered threatened species, being rare outside of protected areas. In an attempt to bring future attention to it a small rock circle was placed around it. This plant should be protected and if possible not relocated, in order to save it from possibly not surviving transplanting. It would make a great plant to have in the middle of a parking lot island with an interpretive sign beside it.