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November 25, 2008



If you don't like yellow when it comes to your garden, Dr. Angela O'Callaghan suggests a few alternatives.

Desert flowers come in so many colors and make terrific accents against a bright gold background. Below is a collection of mostly non-yellow desert plants and trees. You can find colors most of the year in a landscape that uses very little water.


Claret CupEchinocereus triglochidiatus, called the strawberry hedgehog, produces a pink-magenta cup of many petals, which gives its other common name, claret cup. Flowers bloom April through June, from low to higher elevations. This is the first cactus to bloom in the spring.

Beaver TailThe flat pads of beaver tail cactus, or Opuntia basilaris,have a grey-purple hue and its flowers are deep pink. Both the claret cup and the beaver tail cactus produce all of its blossoms at once, which results in a bright deep pink bouquet (albiet one that you cannot handle without protection).


Joshua treeThe Joshua tree, a member of the agave family the same family where you find the blue agave stands watch over our wild lands. They are foreign to this regions, but the ones that do well in this area have lovely blossoms. When Joshuas and other native yuccas are in bloom, they produce dense clusters of white with magenta highlights.

Joshua treeRed yuccas, while they're not native, are good dry land plants with deep throated red flowers that are hummingbird magnets. This plant is a mid-summer bloomer and is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds. This drought-tolerant plant is suitable for xeriscaping.

Aloe veraAloe vera is another red-flowered member of the family. It does well here, although it will be damaged when temperatures drop below freezing. Fortunately, as long as the plant has a well-developed root system, it will revive.


Apache plumeThe Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa) is a member of the rose family. Its white flowers look like wild rose, but its seed plumes make the plant appear to be surrounded by a rose colored cloud. This plant's common name is derived from the fact that it resembles Apache war bonnets. Native peoples used their stems to make brooms and arrow shafts.

Desert Purple SageSalvias are often excellent dry landscape plants. The desert purple sage (Salvia dorrii) is one whose flowers are indeed purple. It is a western native gem that puts on its dazzling display in late spring. It is a fast growing, heavy bloomer best suited to the hottest, most challenging planting sites.

Autumn SageAutumn sage (Salvia greggii) is red-flowered (although occasionally white). Culturally undemanding, this plant tolerates a wide range of soils requiring only that they be quick draining. Just a bit of extra water during dry spells encourages more flowers.

Texas RangerNearly everyone is familiar with Texas Ranger and the froth of small purple blossoms it produces throughout the summer and fall. Sometimes the flowers are so numerous that the foliage is almost hidden. Several butterflies and bees are attracted by the flowers.


Most desert trees can be either a tree or a shrub, depending on how they're pruned. By the way, don't prune off all the side branches of the trunk if you're trying to get one of these plants to develop into a tree. The side branches help the trunk to become thicker faster.

Desert WillowThe desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) which can be a shrub or a tree, produces a fabulous show of pink and lavender flowers, reminiscent of small orchids. Hummingbirds love it.

Texas OliveTexas Olive, (Cordia boissieri) has spectacular white flowers and produces big green berries in the fall. The attractive blooms continue aggressively from late winter through mid to late summer. The rest of the year, the Texas Olive flowers sporadically.

Feathery CassiaIt's possible to have a glorious desert palette with no yellow, but with so many lovely golden flowered desert plants, it'd be a shame to eliminate them entirely. Who could possibly not appreciate the yellow blossoms on the feathery cassia (Cassia artemisioides)? These can be planted in pots or directly in the garden. The original Feathery Cassia is used as symbol in different cultures at some festivals and holidays.

MesquiteWe also cannot leave out the the yellow fuzzy flowers of one of the many mesquites (Prosopis) that has evolved around here. They are extremely adaptable and tolerant to a wide range of growing conditions. They adjust to little or abundant water, and will survive during times of drought by slowing down their growth.

See discussion rules.


AngelaFeb 19, 2015 | Tricky Spring
If you're thinking that our warm weather means your plants are safe from a late frost, you're probably right. But then again, you never know. It only seems that Jack Frost has skipped a visit to Southern Nevada this year. Here's Angela O'Callaghan with Desert Bloom.

NormFeb 14, 2015 | Selective Pruning
Norm Schilling guides gardeners to keep up as Spring approaches. Selective pruning will keep things on track in the yard.

NormJan 21, 2015 | Prepare for Spring Now
Don't look at the calendar. Look at your plants to tell you what do to in the yard right now. Your plants think Spring is near, so use this time to transplant and prune. Desert Gardener Norm Schilling tells us what to look for.

NormDec 30, 2014 | Winter and Citrus
Citrus can thrive in Southern Nevada - even in our cold - when you choose the right varieties. Norm Schilling tells us how.

AngelaDec 13, 2014 | To Prune or Not to Prune
As winter draws near, leaves begin to fall. And the bare view may prompt some excessive pruning. It's tempting, but your plants may appreciate a little restraint. Here's Angela O'Callaghan with Desert Bloom.

NormDec 6, 2014 | Prepare Your Plants for Cold Weather
It's not cold . . . yet, but Norm says be ready and your yard will appreciate it. Don't let a cold snap cost you your investment in plants in your yard. Norm Schilling has some ideas to get ready.

AngelaNov 25, 2014 | Evergreens
As we head into the holiday season, more attention is given to 'evergreens.' Too many cones on a pine tree might be a sign of weakness. Angela O'Callaghan tells us all about evergreens on Desert Bloom.

NormNov 14, 2014 | Fall Colors
Even in the desert, Fall colors can brighten your landscape. Here's Norm Schilling with Desert Bloom.

NormOct 28, 2014 | Fall Colors - Web Only Edition
With glorious weather for our yards to fall back into bloom, Norm has some additional suggestions for color to add to the profusion of blooms for this time of year. (Web-only content)

NormOct 7, 2014 | Second Spring
The call it a "second spring" Norm Schilling has some plan ideas to make Fall colorful in your yard. He has a checklist of plants looking their best, because now is the time to plant in Southern Nevada.

AngelaSep 30, 2014 | Fountain Grass
A weed by any other name is still a weed even if it doesn't look like one. If only everything in our gardens thrived as well as weeds. Here is Angela O'Callaghan.

NormSep 15, 2014 | Desert Heat
Norm describes a significant casualty of the desert heat. There's going to be a big gap in Norm's Yard and a lesson on the reality of our desert landscape.

AngelaAug 12, 2014 | Organic Pesticides
Choosing a method for ridding your garden of an unwanted guest, be it bug or weed, is not always a simple choice. But the more you know, the better it goes. Here's Angela O'Callaghan

NormJul 28, 2014 | Lose that Lawn
We know, it's a desert out there including every place there's a lawn. Norm Schilling reminds us all the ways he wants you to consider losing the lawn... permanently.

AngelaJul 14, 2014 | Protect Fruit Trees from Birds
If you put a good deal of care into growing fruit trees, there are likely some birds who will take advantage of your effort. Here's Angela O'Callaghan.

NormJul 10, 2014 | Palm Care, Part 2
To keep, or not to keep. Norm Schilling ponders his palm trees, on this edition of Desert Bloom.

NormJun 10, 2014 | Palm Care
Norm Schilling has mixed feelings about how we use Palms in our yards. Full grown palm trees transplanted into the entry way of a mall is a common sight that tells Southern Nevadan's "something" is nearly open for business. He reminds us that those palms come with challenges.

AngelaJun 3, 2014 | Hot Weather Plants
As temperatures across the Valley begin to climb, you might be wondering what will survive in your garden in the months ahead and what probably won't. There are some 'sweet' options. Here's Angela O'Callaghan

NormMay 20, 2014 | Desert Color
Norm Schilling just got back from Belize and has some ideas for lush leaves in your desert yard. He reflects on some well suited plants to provide color and variety in this edition of Desert Bloom.

AngelaMay 6, 2014 | Emerald Ash Borer
Raising a healthy shade tree in the Mojave is not always easy. And if one particular insect makes its way here, it could get even harder. Here's Angela O'Callaghan with Desert Bloom.

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