Flowering Plants in the Desert
Despite its sometimes barren appearance, the desert is filled with flowering plants of all sorts, including flowering trees that appear in washes and canyons. Most desert flowering plants have a spiky appearance and are a dull brown or silver-gray color until the blooms appear. The flowers themselves come in a vast array of colors, bringing the desert to vibrant life when blooming.
Popular in xeriscapes and standard landscaping, Russian sage has small but prolific blooms covering its tall stems, resulting in a shock of purple-blue color. Originating in a desert climate, Russian sage grows well in a variety of conditions and prefers sandy soil and dry, hot weather. It can grow up to 4 feet tall and about 3 feet wide.
Arizona Yellow Bells
With large yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers, Arizona yellow bells is often also called yellow trumpet. It grows in bush-like clumps, and can reach heights of 10 to 25 feet, depending on the variety. Given ideal growing conditions, Yellow bells will bloom continuously throughout the year. In cooler climates it will bloom once in spring and again in the fall.
One of the most popular flowering desert plants for rock gardens and xeriscape landscaping, Desert lantana comes in a wide variety of colors. It can also be grown as an annual in cooler climates. It won't bloom until temperatures rise, however, and needs a warm summer to reach its full potential. Butterflies love lantana bushes, which usually grow about 3 feet tall.
Although it looks nondescript when not in bloom, Desert willow puts on one of the most spectacular shows of any desert tree. From mid-summer to late fall, the branches are covered in pale pink-purple flowers that resemble miniature orchids. They also give off a very pleasant fragrance. Native to Texas, the desert willow averages 15 to 20 feet tall.