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Can We Plant Trees on Mars? Here is Science Based Answer

Most Sci-Fi fans must have pondered, “Can we plant trees on Mars?” like in books or movies.

Planting trees on Mars would not be possible because of the hostile growing environment, insufficient growth factors (air, soil, sunlight, and water), and lack of nutrients that keep plants healthy.

But, one way you can grow trees on Mars is through terraforming the planet (making a planet habitable).

Let us find out if we are any closer to making Mars habitable for humans or trees.

What are the Challenges of Planting Trees on Mars?

The prospect of colonizing the red planet may seem possible, but are we ready to grow trees there?

While the idea of creating the Martian landscape is enticing, the challenges posed by Mars’ harsh environment are significant.

Can we plant trees on Mars? Let us find out why that is not possible.

1. Harsh Environmental Conditions

First, Mars lacks an atmosphere like the Earth, making it a harsh planet to reside in.

Growing trees may seem impossible with its thin atmosphere and extreme temperature fluctuations.

can we plant trees on mars
The temperatures on Mars can drop to as low as -225° Fahrenheit (-153° Celsius) during the night.

If you have watched The Martian (2015), you could tell Dr. Watney’s potatoes died instantly when exposed to cold Martian temperatures.

2. Water Scarcity

Another primary concern with growing trees on Mars is the lack of Water.

Mars lacks sufficient water supply or access to available water resources, requiring humans to transport it to the planet.

Not only does it seem complicated, but carrying so much water and storing it for a long time will be very expensive.

3. Radiation Exposure

Mars’ biggest concern is its thin atmosphere, which allows the sun’s maximum radiation to reach the surface.

The solar radiation on Mars reaches 24-30 rads or 240-300 mSv per year, which is 40-50 times more than Earth’s.

Even building a robust greenhouse will fail to prevent harmful cosmic and solar radiation from destroying plant cells.

4. Unsuitable Soil Composition

Martian soil contains a lot of regolith, which lacks essential nutrients and organic matter for tree growth.

Composting and aerating the regolith may make it rich in bioorganisms, but it would demand extensive processing and nutrient supplementation.

5. Lack of Nutrients

Without proper soil, sunlight, and fertilizing, the tree saplings will fail to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars and oxygen, primarily Glucose (C6H12O6).

can we plant trees on mars
Adopting the hydroponics method will be effective in growing plants on Mars, given it is protected by a controlled shield or a greenhouse.

Therefore, it will prevent photosynthesis, leading to the untimely death of the tree sapling.

6. Other Extreme Factors

Trees require specific conditions to thrive, including humidity, gravity, and air pressure, which Mars severely lacks.

Without humidity, the tree leaves will transpire quickly, and lack of gravity and air pressure will withhold water in the soil, leading to root rot.

How to Solve this Problem?

Do not worry; the hope is not lost yet! With significant scientific achievement, Mars can someday become habitable for trees.

The solution starts with terraforming the planet to modify its atmosphere by dropping nuclear bombs over its polar caps to release the instant heat required for vaporizing the frozen carbon dioxide.

Another way is to create controlled greenhouses with advanced life support that shields excess radiation and maintains humidity.

Regarding nutrients, we can process Martian rocks to obtain Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphate, etc.

From Editorial Team


Instead of traditional trees, we should focus on crops that require less of everything.

Researchers are studying genetic modification and specialized crops to grow in harsh environments.

At least, if we fail to colonize Mars, we might grow these crops on Earth for the better!