To make a realistic attempt at desert gardening one needs to know the desert plants to use. Dry gardens take drought-tolerant plants and ones designed to live in hot dry arid places. Desert gardening can be a beautiful way to display interesting plants among rocks and stones. Desert plants can be flowering and they can have interesting foliage, don’t discount them easily. These are completely different-looking plants which you can see in May! Most of these desert plants you can see in Arizona.
Desert Plants List (Updated At February 2022 Because of Popularity)
1. Greasewood Plant
Greasewood, Sacrobatus vermiculatus, is from the Chenopodiaceae family of plants. It is also known as chic wood or black greasewood. There are many branches on this shrub and it is thorny with succulent leaves. It will get 3 to 7 feet high. Leaves are 1 inch long and flowers are greenish for the female blooms and rose for the male blooms. It will have flowers in the spring and summer seasons. Grow in saline soil or alkaline soil. Also known for natural herbal extract.
2. Blue Phacelia
Blue phacelia, Phacelia distans, is also known as scorpionweed and wild heliotrope. It has fern-like leaves that are green and bell-like blue flowers. Flowers will bloom from February to June. The plant will get 1 to 3 feet tall and will resemble the tail of a scorpion with the shape.
Chuparosa, Justica californica, is from the Acanthaceae family of plants. It has grayish-green foliage that is oval and ½ to 1 inch long. Flowers come throughout the year and are tubular and red. The flowers are in terminal clusters. The entire plant gets 5 feet tall. There is nectar in this plant that makes it popular for birds and the seeds are eaten by quail.
4. Desert Paintbrush
Desert paintbrush (Castilleja chromosa) is from the Scrophulariaceae family of plants. It has 1 to 2 inch long leaves and reddish-orange flowers from April to August. The entire plant can get 4 to 16 inches tall with erect stems.
5. Mohave Yucca
Mohave Yucca (Yucca schidigera) is an evergreen with leaves 2 to 4 inches long and bell-like flowers in purplish-white 1 to 2 inches long. Flowers bloom in August and September and fruits are in late summer with blackberries. The plant will get up to 16 feet tall. It depends on the Pronuba moth to pollinate.
6. Hedgehog cactus
Hedgehog, Echinocereus triglochidiatus, is from the Cactaceae family of plants. It is a barrel cactus with 1 foot long cylindrical green stems. Red flowers are cup-shaped and 1 to 2 inches long, blooming from April to June. It is pollinated by hummingbirds. These flowers will be open at night which is unlike many other cactus plants.
7. Ghost Plant
The ghost desert plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense) is one of the most popular plants used today. They are really easy to take care of – they need almost nothing. Color depends on sunlight intensity. Color can vary from blue-gray to pink yellow. In spring they grow bright yellow flowers.
8. Mexican Thread Grass
Mexican Thread Grass (Nassella tenuissima) is my favorite desert plant. It’s a really beautiful, soft, and awesome landscaping element. The best thing about his grass is that it’s always pest free. And it’s drought tolerant. You can use this grass as a garden border. It’s not aggressive and will not invade your garden. In spring grass will sprout new leaves and in the summer it will stop growing. It will begin growing again once the temperature cools down.
Ocotillo desert plant (Fouquieria splendens) is not a true cactus so don’t be mistaken. It has large spiny sticks in green color. When it starts raining, the plant is quickly covered with 1.1inch ovate leaves which will stay there for weeks if not months. Ocotillo likes rocky terrain and will grow in really drought areas. It starts to bloom in March till June with red tube-style flowers.
10. Tree Aloe
Tree Aloe (aloē) is a native plant in Africa. It blooms from June to July with pink flowers. It’s really fast-growing. It also needs more space and it does not like a shadow. Be aware that it grows sharp teeth. It grows good in the heat but it does not mind watering so it will grow faster when watered.
11. Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) is really beautiful. It’s one of my favorite trees and they bring calmness to your garden just by their look. Unfortunately, it’s really rare and grows only in the Mojave desert (lucky they). It’s rare because its life relies on the female pronuba moth. You can thank pronuba moth for keeping this plant on our plant list because pronuba moth polls this tree. This tree grows only 2-3 inches per year. Mostly they live up to 150 years but there is information that somebody has seen 300 years old Joshua tree. Joshua Tree matures after 60 years.
12. Palo Verde
Palo Verde (Cercidium floridum) is well known because of its magnificent green trunk and bright yellow leaves. Its trunk is green because of chlorophyll. There are two types of Palo Verde Trees – Blue Palo Verde with blue trunk and Foothills Palo Verde – green trunk. In some places, this tree is also called a Protector because it gives really good shade for vulnerable desert plants so they can grow. Beautiful tree to have in your garden for a better landscape.