Deserts are typically more associated with cacti than with flowers, but there are a number of flowering plants that thrive in the extreme arid conditions of the desert. Flowers in the desert are an especially welcome sight, providing color and texture against a more barren expanse.
Yellow elder (Tecoma stans) is a perennial flowering shrub native to the desert shrublands of the American South, as well as arid regions in Central and South America. The plant sports broad, blue green foliage and showy tubular yellow blooms that have a strong, sweet fragrance. Yellow elder can be used as a wildlife attractor, as the plant will draw will hummingbirds to the yard. The desert shrub is tolerant of a range of soils so long as they are well drained. Yellow elder requires full sun to look its best.
Desert lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus), also called Coulter's lupine, is a flowering member of the pea family that produces columns of bluish purple or lilac flowers. The hardy plant is an early bloomer that begins flowering as early as January, often continuing on until late spring. Desert lupine can be found throughout the American Southwest in along sandy mesas and roadsides in the Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. The plant grows best in full sun in loose, sandy soils.
Arizona poppy (Kallstroemia grandiflora) is an herbaceous annual that resembles the California poppy, with orange, cup shaped blooms and gray green foliage. The hardy plant grows in sandy grasslands throughout the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts and on into Mexico. The summer blooming plant requires full, bright sunlight to produce its signature orange flowers. The plant is highly attractive to butterflies and bees, and attracts both in droves.