Sand, drought, and vast emptiness may not be synonymous with bounds of beautiful foliage and vibrant plumage, but yet desert plants continue to be a desired feature in gardens all over the world.
This isn’t any strange occurrence, desert plants can be a gem in any yard, with their quirky appearance and interesting characteristics appealing to those with any outside space.
Picking the right desert plant can be difficult though, with many not realizing just how many options are available to domestic gardeners.
This article is here to help with that problem, providing you with a comprehensive list of all the best options for your yard for you to decide on what plants are best for you and your private botanical oasis.
Types of Desert Plants
1. Mexican Lime Cactus (Ferocactus pilosus)
Cacti are a staple of desert plants and iconically represent the entire biome. The Mexican lime cactus and its barrel shape make it an eye-catching choice for the garden.
With its red spines and small, but vibrant, flowers, this cactus makes for an ideal feature or ornamental plant in the garden. Thankfully, the Mexican lime cactus isn’t too difficult to keep and is even drought-resistant, ideal for hotter climates.
2. Silver Torch Cactus (Cleistocactus strausii)
An award-winning cactus, the silver torch is one of the most bizarre-looking desert plants you could place in a garden. It’s thin, spire-like columns will protrude amidst other foliage and stick out in the best way possible.
The strange contrast of red flowers and a white-green body create an interesting color scheme that will always draw the eye.
3. Spanish Dagger (Yucca gloriosa ‘Variegeta’)
The Spanish dagger yucca is a nice option for gardeners who need a bright, ornamental piece in their garden. Large and elegant leaves give it a texture that can be perfect in a bed, as a singular piece, or even amidst other flowers.
This plant loves the sun and grows well in less-than-ideal conditions, making it perfect for any warm climate.
4. Barbados Aloe (Aloe vera)
Succulents are always a solid choice for the desert oriented garden. Rich in color and grandeur, the Aloe Vera and its thick tubular leaves can be a perfect choice for flower beds and edges, rounding out areas with style.
Also, if you want to, you can take advantage of the plant’s medicinal properties.
5. Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima)
Bushy and aloof, the Mexican feather grass stands as one of the most versatile options for gardens.
Thanks to its drought resistance and hardiness, Mexican feather grass is a mainstay for gardens in warm countries. Use it as a border for a path or within a flower patch and it will still look fantastic.
6. Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense)
Haunting gardens across the world with its elegant foliage, the ghost plant is a beautiful way to add a Mediterranean vibe to your yard.
The muted, pastel leaves are what help this succulent stand out and position it as one of the best ways to elevate a garden with its subtle form. Perfect for rock gardens, beds or containers.
7. Flamingo Grass (Miscanthus sinensis)
Another excellent plant for edging and borders, flamingo – or maiden – grass is an all-round for the entire year. The subtle elegance of Flamingo grass is perfect for accentuating other plants with its simplicity and shape.
This plant can look amazing throughout the year also, with its foliage shifting colors with the seasons helping it remain beautiful all year round.
8. Wild Four O’clock (Mirabilis multiflora)
Wild four o’clock is often used to fill up large spaces of a garden with a mix of green foliage and pretty purple flowers.
With a bizarre, but enticing aroma and a quirky style, the plant will look great amongst a rock garden or as edging.
9. Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans)
Another colorful addition to the list, yellow bells are pretty and vibrant, making them suitable as an eye-catching border plant. Bushy and full of vigor, the yellow bell plant and it’s flaxen foliage will drape nicely over rocks and walls, or even on its own by a fence.
Those looking to add some color into a drought-resistant, rock or desert garden should consider giving the Yellow bell a look-over.
10. Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens)
As the name suggests, the Texas sage is native to the southern states of America and found across its deserts and barren areas. Drought-tolerant and extremely hardy, the Texas sage is an outstanding plant for the garden.
Not only doe sit have a unique structure, but the bushy plant blossoms with interesting, beautiful purple flowers that juxtaposed with the muted mint color of the plant.
11. Crimson Bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus)
Despite being a desert plant, Bottlebrush plants can be planted in a wide range of climates and garden types. The green bushes with red accent flowers will make any garden wall or fence cheerful and give your garden hints of personality.
There are many plants in the Bottlebrush genus to pick from, so make sure to shop around for the one best suited to your garden.
12. Arizona Sun (Gaillardia x grandiflora)
Bold and magnanimous, the Arizona sun blanket flower will cheer up anyone who looks at it. Featuring a rich mix of yellow and red flowers, the large petals make for a large and vibrant addition to the garden. Plant in a bed or near rocks for a big impact, but even amongst other plants it will look magnificent. Not only has this plant won a ton of awards, but its fragrance is known to draw in bees and butterflies.
13. Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia)
If you’re looking for something a little different, then Kniphofia is a fine choice. The titular crimson rods stick out with small spines, creating a vertical accent to a flower bed or garden space.
The soft and subtle touch of color along with its shape can be a great means of making a portion of the yard more interesting. Red hot poker is also resistant to drought, pests, and other potential menaces.
14. Purrsian Blue Catming (Nepeta faassenii)
With a name like ‘Purrsian blue catmint’ you know this plant is going to be worthwhile.
An annual plant that blooms in blue and purple, the catmint is a darling of the garden. The catmint works well when paired with perennials or other desert plants to accentuate the impact.
15. Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea)
The bougainvillea is a stunning pink and red flowering plant that adds charm to gardens, providing a Mediterranean vibe. Best planted in pots or beds, this plant will keep the garden company throughout the summer with its rich foliage.
Baskets and patio plant pots make for an amazing spot for this pretty climber.
16. Flaming Katie (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)
There are few plants on this list that can match the sheer sophistication of the Flaming katie. Naming aside, the plant sits well within plant pots and beds, offering an elegant touch to a patch of flowers or green space.
There are various types of this plant, some of which are more suited to small pots, but there are many that will grow well when planted in a flower patch.
17. Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe luciae)
Paddle plants are an interesting plant, with a bizarre base, leaf formation, and flower, the vertical attraction of the paddle plant is hard to dispute.
Perfect for rock gardens and small pots, planted together these plants can add significant verticality to a patch of the garden to form a wall of quirky stems and foliage. One of many jade plants suited for drought conditions, the paddle plant is a must for those who want to spruce up the garden in an unconventional way.
Desert plants are a fan favorite across the world, regardless of the climate they’re planted. Cacti, succulents, and grasses that create a unique feel in any garden they’re present in, adding a tinge of beauty and elegance wherever they sit.
If you’re interested in planting a garden and still need some pointers, we’re here to help, check out this guide here for a deep delve into creating your own private green space.