You are finally through building your dream home, but wait; your outdoors look plain and unpleasant. This is the time to think about landscaping to help improve the overall outlook of your backyard. While you may consider several options for the purpose, using desert plants for the same can be a unique approach to your landscaping endeavors. While many may picture the desert as a barren endless mass of sand, nothing could be further from the truth. The desert is home to various plants that include cactus, trees, shrubs, grass, and other attractive, flowery plants. These come in multiple shapes, sizes, and colors to help transform your outdoors into some work of art.
So what are the ideal desert plants you can use for your landscaping? While the choices are endless, the following are the most common options based on their growth patterns, size and visual appeal:
- Golden Barrel Cactus
- Yellow bells
- Bottle Brush
- Texas Sage
- Aloe Vera (Aloe)
- Flaming Katy
- Jade Plant or Friendship Tree
- Mexican Feather Grass
- Paddle Plant or Red Pancake
- Ghost Plant Succulent
This article takes a closer look at each of these desert plants and their suitability for landscaping. We will discuss more about their adaptations and what attractive features they bring to your landscaping design.
1. Golden Barrel Cactus
You may have heard about the huge barrel cactus; this is not it. The Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) is from the same family, but smaller and round-shaped. This unique shape makes it an attractive feature to add to your landscape design. If you are working on a rock garden or cactus garden, then this is your best bet to include in the mix. Its spherical form makes it an ideal option for anyone looking to create a geometrically inclined landscaping design. As the cactus grows, however, it may change shape and turn cylindrical. You can find the golden barrel cactus in various shades of green coupled with spikes that come in multiple shades of yellow. Occasionally, the cacti may surprise with some bright yellow flowers.
2. Yellow Bells
Are you looking to go flowery for your landscaping project? Well, what better option to go for other than the flowery bell? These unique desert flowery plants stand out with their bright yellow flowers that bloom abundantly within a short period. As the name suggests, its flowers are bell-shaped and vibrant. The plant works best when mixed with other flowery or non-flowery plants to give your landscaping design the much-desired ambience.
The bottlebrush (Callistemon) gets its name from its flowers that bear some striking resemblance to bottle brushes. This desert plant stands out with its brightly colored needles that form the flower. Although the plant is sometimes referred to as a bottlebrush tree, it also grows as a shrub. This makes it an ideal option to include in a list of low-growing landscape plants. The plant commonly bears red flowers, although there are species that bloom a variety of other colors. Add color, intriguing texture, and drama to your garden with this unique desert plant.
For best effects, first determine what the bottlebrush needs to do in your landscaping design. Usually, this would come in to enhance the color scheme, support local birds, or even liven up that dull corner in your garden.
4. Texas Sage
Are you looking to add some natural purple to your landscape? Well, the Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) does just that. It helps bring in that neutral tone that helps blend with other desert plants in your garden. Its lavender and purple colored blooms may be significantly small but stand out with their sturdiness.
This desert plant remains green for the better part of the year but come summer, the tiny flowers in shades of lavender, blue and purple will cover its branches. This bloom will remain all through the fall. The texas sage does not need any pruning, making it ideal for gardens that do not require much disturbance all through the year.
5. Aloe Vera (Aloe)
If you live in a mild climate and love succulents, then the aloe vera should be your best bet when designing your landscapes. This drought-resistant succulent not only helps add some drama to your garden but also gives your landscape a contemporary look, especially when planted in geometrical blocks. For better results, bring in a mix of two or three varieties of aloe vera. They work best when mixed with some drought resistant flowering perennials or ornamental grass.
What’s more, you will be glad to benefit from aloe vera’s medicinal values right at your doorstep. However, you may need to approach this feat with care as some aloe species are poisonous and require the expertise of an experienced arborist to help differentiate the same. With the right mix, aloe vera brings in a versatile addition to your landscape design.
6. Flaming Katy
Have you been searching for the best way to add some color to your landscaping design? The Flaming Katy (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) would be an ideal pick for this purpose. This easy-to-grow succulent helps bring some vibrancy to your garden or backyard. The best thing about the Flaming Katy is that it is not an invasive plant. As such, you need not worry about it crawling all over the place when used for landscaping.
This delightful plant not only helps add some striking colors to your landscape but also gives you an easy time on maintenance. With just the right lighting and temperatures, you can be assured of getting some gorgeous blooms to make it a strikingly attractive centerpiece for your landscaping design. You will love the giant splash of color the plant comes with when they bloom.
7. Jade Plant or Friendship Tree
The fact that the Jade plant (Crassula ovata) falls somewhere between a flower, a tree, and a shrub makes it a unique addition to your desert landscape. Usually, the plant grows to take up the shape of a small bush. During the winter and fall months, the plant blooms with some slightly pinkish but white flowers. This gives your garden some color, especially when mixed with other flowery plants. Jade plants or friendship tree will flourish best in loamy quick-draining soil as it is prone to root rot easily when exposed to slow-draining soil.
8. Mexican Feather Grass
A landscaping design cannot be complete without some grass and the Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima) come in to complete the design by giving your garden that feathery feel. As an ornamental grass, the Mexican Feather Grass stands out with its delicate but graceful and fine texture. Its growth pattern cascades just like a water fountain, making it appealing to the eye. Its delicate blades blend in to create that magical beach-like environment. Add this allure to its drought resistance, and you have just the right desert plant for your landscape design. When planting, however, be careful not to overdo it as the grass spreads quickly and can become invasive.
9. Paddle Plant or Red Pancake
The Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora) is a popular succulent in the world of landscape design. It stands out with its rounded and thick paddle-shaped leaves. The Paddle Plant is a crowd favorite thanks to its easy disposition, coupled with its eccentric shape and coloring. It may look bizarre in its growth pattern, but this uniqueness makes it even more appealing as a landscaping plant.
For better results, intertwine the paddle plant with other succulents to create an attractive silhouette. Add some dramatic splashes of red to your landscape design using this color-changing low maintenance desert succulent.
10. Ghost Plant Succulent (Graptopetalum paraguayense)
The Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense) is a cold-hardy desert succulent featuring some whitish or pale grey leaves. Its stands out as an ideal landscaping plant thanks to its versatile growth. You will love how it cascades down the pot or container to make an unprecedented groundcover.
The plant gets its name from the powdery coating on its leaves that give it a ghostly look. This coating should be handled with care as it fades with ease. Its trailing stems and form rosettes that range from yellow-pink to blue-gray gives the plant an edge as an attractive landscaping addition. They work best when planted along pathways, in rock gardens, arranged in planters, or as garden borders.
Your idea of a desert landscape doesn’t necessarily have to be all about green, brown and other dull colors. You will be surprised to realize that there is a myriad of colorful, ornamental, and attractive desert plants you can use for your landscape idea or outdoor garden. It all boils down to how best you can mix and blend them to give you that appealing look. Break up the plant pattern by mixing desert plants of different sizes, shapes and colors in your landscape design.
Apart from plants, you can also consider throwing in some desert oriented items like stones and sand. This will help complement the desert plants and give you that natural desert feel and look.