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Examining Different Procedures Used in Transplanting Cacti

Project title: Examining different procedures used in transplanting cacti

Project collaborators: Eric Rechel, Rick Ballard, Tim Novotny, Rick Ott, Anna Lincoln

Project Description:  Sclerocactus glaucus is a threatened cactus found in the deserts around Grand Junction near rights-of-way of new pipelines and highway expansion.  One way to mitigate the presence of this cactus is to transplant individuals to nearby suitable locations. The recommend procedure requires cutting off the smaller roots, setting it out in the open air for one to three days so the plant can “harden-off,” and then transplanting it to the new location.  Using this procedure, 50 percent of the cacti are expected to survive.  We began a study in the spring of 2003 in Rabbit Valley, using the non-threatened cactus Sclerocactus  parviflorus , comparing three different methods of transplanting cacti: 1) the above recommended procedure, 2) a method where a root ball around each cactus was maintained and the individual transplanted within two hours, resulting in 90 percent of the cacti surviving, and 3) soil removed from the roots and the individuals transplanted within two hours.  We also examined whether transplanting in the summer, fall, winter, or spring or next to a nurse plant, Atriplex confertifolia, would affect survival.  Each spring and fall for the next seven years, data were taken on the number of surviving plants, diameter and height of each plant, number of new tubercules produced for the year, and number of flowers.  At present we are analyzing the data and will have a publication submitted to a scientific journal by the summer of 2011. 

Project dates: Spring 2003 – Summer 2011