Gardening in Fuerteventura

When you arrive at your “place in the sun” for the first time, it can be quite intimidating to find a desert of black volcanic picon (gravel) surrounding your home.

Gardening in Fuerteventura
Gardening in Fuerteventura Gardening in Fuerteventura

It is difficult to know where to start.

A well-planned and constructed garden is a valuable feature of any property.
In Fuerteventura’s excellent climate, the outside “room” is as important as those inside. There is an opportunity to use the garden as an open-air extension of the house, providing space for recreation, enjoyment and relaxation.
You can have a terrace for sunbathing and relaxing, an outside dining area, a Swimming Pool or Health Spa, or a paradise of sub-tropical plants providing structure, colour and all-important shade. A well-designed garden brings all the elements of materials, plants, lighting, and water together to make a space, which reflects the personality and needs of the owner.


Plants

The sub-tropical climate that exists in Fuerteventura allows us to grow some beautiful, exotic plants that give joy all year round.
Whether you prefer a tropical jungle, a Mexican desert or a garden full of South African colour, there are hundreds of plants to choose from.
The important thing to bear in mind is to use plants that suit the individual local conditions. If a site is very exposed and windy, it is best to use plants that can withstand the conditions, such as cacti, (Top Picture) aloe, agave, strelitzia, (Garden-leader2) and crassula (2nd Picture)

If there are more sheltered conditions, it is possible to grow plants with softer leaves and taller shrubs and trees (hibiscus, tulip tree).
The Canary Islands have many indigenous species, which are adapted to the local conditions. The Canarian Palm (Phoenix Canariensis), the Dragon Tree (Draceana Draco) and the Verode ( Klenia Nerifolia) are fine examples. 
The Island Government (Cabildo de Fuerteventura) operates a scheme, which allows every householder to have 40 plants each year, totally free. This provides an opportunity for everyone to grow plants, which are native to Fuerteventura, and demands our full support.


Tips

The first thing to bear in mind is that experience in gardening in Northern Europe has no bearing at all in Fuerteventura. Growing conditions are totally different, plants have different growing habits and requirements and gardening methods are totally different.
1. Don’t try to fight the local conditions – water is a valuable commodity. Grow plants that don’t need much of it.
2. Avoid buying plants that have been “nursery” grown in coir or peat compost. The “ball” of compost that you plant dries out too quickly, placing stress on the plant. Plants are available that have been grown in “tierra de Fuerteventura” or a tierra / picon mix. These plants establish much better.
3. Avoid using any “potting” compost, especially that which is peat based. Peat is a non-sustainable resource. Adapt to the conditions and help the planet at the same time.
4. Use raised beds wherever possible. This gives the plants a good depth of root run. It is quite normal for new gardens to have several inches of picon over rubbish and rock. If you keep the planted areas at ground level, it is very difficult to get a decent sized planting hole.
5. Never plant directly into picon. Picon is very useful because it acts as mulch, suppresses weeds and absorbs moisture from the air overnight but it cannot sustain plant growth.