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Desert wildflowers provide a refreshing pop of color in the dry desert landscape. Although they have adapted to survive in such harsh climates, their bloom cycles are extremely sensitive and dependent on a variety of factors including frequency of rainfall during winter, moderate temperatures, wind, and elevation.

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In general, wildflowers are known to start flowering in early spring from February to March.

California Poppy

As the official state flower of California, this poppy is known for it’s bright orange color. It is native to the western region of the United States, from the coast of Oregon down to Baja California. Due to its popularity and how easy it is to grow, the California poppy can be found in most states in gardens, roadsides, and even empty lots.


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The petals of this dicot open during the day and close at night. will bloom all summer in California and in cooler coastal climates. In hotter summer regions, the flowers will die after blooming in early spring, and the plant will remain dormant for the remainder of the summer.


Like the poppy, this drought-tolerant wildflower will open in the morning and close in the evening. The Winecup is a perennial that bears cup-shaped flowers that range in color from light pink to deep magenta. This wildflower will bloom from March to June and thrives in sandy or rocky soil that is well-drained.

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Outside of the wild, it is popularly used as a bedding plant, or for hanging baskets where its long stems can cascade over the side. One interesting fact about this plant is that it it can be medicinally used as a natural pain reliever.

Desert Marigold

The name marigold can be derived from its early association with the Virgin Mary, when this golden flower was deemed as “Mary’s Gold.” The desert marigold is native to the southwestern desert areas of the United States. Its long bloom time occurs from March until November, and the it can often be seen on roadsides where it covers the landscape in a thick yellow blanket.

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It is common to see flowering buds sealed into a hard ball. This is the result of the symbiotic relationship between the desert marigold and the desert marigold moth larvae, which envelops the flower into a cocoon.

Desert Sage

The desert sage is one of the most beautiful desert wildflowers. With its bold blue and purple flowers and frosty gray foliage, these wildflowers truly standout in any desert landscape. Desert sage can thrive in high heat, nutrient-poor soil, and require little watering. Because of these factors, the desert sage is not fitting for fertile soil within most garden settings.

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However, it is the perfect addition to a xeriscape or drought-tolerant desert garden, because it is great for attracting birds and butterflies.

Whitestem Paperflower

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The whitestem paperflower is named for its delicate flower petals which dry into paper once the flower dies. Belonging to the same family as the daisy, this flower blooms nearly all year long from spring to fall, and thrives in hardiness zones 8-11. Its bright yellow flowers have five petals, and its stems can grow up to 12 inches tall.