List of Plants in the Desert

The desert is alive with plants of all kinds that bring a splash of color to the landscape. Gardeners in hot, dry climates can replicate that desert feel in their home gardens with desert plants that are commercially available. Gardeners in other areas use the plants in containers that are brought indoors when necessary or as houseplants all year long.


Guajillo (Acacia berlandieri) is a member of the pea family and is found in the desert in Mexico and South Texas. The plant is a spreading shrub that grows from 3 to 15 feet tall with compound leaves that resemble a fern and grow from 4 to 6 inches long. White or cream-colored flowers bloom in February, March and April, growing in ball-shaped clusters. The flowers produce seed pods 3 to 5 inches long and nectar that bees use to make honey. Plant guajillo in full sun or partial shade and in a dry soil. The plant is a favorite of birds and butterflies.

Gregg Dalea

Gregg dalea (Dalea greggii) is also known as Gregg's prairie clover, Trailing indigo bush and Indigo bush, is a member of the pea family and is native to the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas and New Mexico. The plant is a ground cover that grows from 4 to 9n inches tall and spreads from 2 to 4 feet wide. The plant produces silver-blue-green compound leaves and purple pea shaped flowers that bloom from May through September. Plant Gregg dalea in full sun or partial shade and a soil that is dry. Bees and butterflies will come by for the nectar.

Parry's Penstemon

Parry's penstemon (Penstemon parryi) is a member of the Scrophulariaceae family and is native to the deserts of Southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. The plant is an evergreen that grows from 1 to 3 feet tall with blue-green leaves from 6 to 8 inches long. It produces flowers in shades of red and pink growing in long clusters at the top of the stems. Plant Parry's penstemon in full sun or partial shade and a very well-drained soil. Hummingbirds will stop by for a drink of nectar.

Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus

Engelmann's hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii) is also known as Engelmann's hedgehog cactus, Saints cactus, Hedgehog cactus and Strawberry cactus. It is native to the Sonoran Desert, which stretches from Arizona and California to Mexico. The plant grows from 4 to 12 inches high with red, yellow, white or gray curved spines and large, tube-shaped magenta or pale pink flowers that open only during the day time, blooming in April and May. The flowers are followed by a spiny, red fruit. Plant Engelmann's hedgehog cactus in full sun and a dry, sandy, rocky or gravelly soil.

Keywords: desert plants, desert flowers, cactus plants

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Regina Sass has been a writer for 10 years, penning articles for publications in the real estate and retail industries. Her online experience includes writing, advertising and editing for an educational website. Sass is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.