Stunning Desert Plants and Succulents [Infographic]

Desert plants have found a place in modern home and garden design. There are many plants in the desert that can survive in a xeriscape garden or even in a glass terrarium. The term xeriscape is derived from the Greek word xeros, which means “dry,” and is a form of landscaping that conserves water through the use of native plants. Thus, desert plants have become popular for landscaping because they are easy to take care of due to their drought-tolerant capabilities.

Popular desert plants include the Palo Verde tree, the Queen Victoria agave, the golden poppy, and the Mexican thread grass. To help you identify the many desert plants there are, FTD flowers created a compendium below of 127 of the most stunning desert plants and succulents.

Desert plants can be classified into three main categories:

  • Cacti and Succulents
  • Wildflowers
  • Trees, Shrubs, and Grasses.

For each category, they’ve compiled a helpful desert plants diagram that outlines the most popular plants within that category. So the next time you see that adorable succulent or unique cactus, you’ll definitely be able to identify it!

A Compendium of Stunning Desert Plants and Succulents | ecogreenlove

Infographic provided by FTD Flowers


Did you know that all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti? Desert succulents, including cacti, are the modern gardener’s best friends. Due to their ease of care, and wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, the options for designing your home and garden with these trendy plants are endless. From terrariums to your garden, it seems that you can grow succulents almost anywhere.

As long as you provide these drought-tolerant plants with good drainage, sandy soil, and sunshine, they will thrive for years. From the popular ghost plant, to the architectural marvel of the crassula plant, there are so many varieties to choose from.

Top 10 Most Popular Succulents
Click here for full description and characteristics of each

  1. Ghost Plant
  2. Pencil Plant
  3. Burro’s Tail
  4. Paddle Plant
  5. Living Stone
  6. Queen Victoria Agave
  7. Zebra Cactus
  8. Golden Barrel
  9. Bunny Ear Cactus
  10. Fox Tail Agave


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.

Botanists refer to wildflowers as “ephemerals”, meaning that they have extremely short life cycles and will only grow under the right conditions. Once the flowers bloom, they will quickly spread their seeds and a sea of colorful blooms will grow for a short period of time before the plants die. In general, wildflowers are known to start flowering in early spring from February to March.

Although most desert wildflowers are known to be only found in their natural habitat, there are still many species that can be adapted for the domestic garden.

Top 5 Most Popular Desert Wildflowers
Click here for full description and characteristics of each

  1. California Poppy
  2. Winecup
  3. Desert Marigold
  4. Desert Sage
  5. Whitestem Paperflower

Trees, Shrubs, and Grasses

Beyond cacti, succulents, and wildflowers, the rest of the desert landscape is inhabited by trees, shrubs, and grasses. Like cacti and succulents, this subgroup of desert plants does not require much care and tends to be slow-growing. From the green Palo Verde tree, to the flowering ocotillo shrub, many of these plants are popular choices for desert garden landscapes.

Trees play a very important role in the desert, as they are one of the tallest plant species and provide necessary shade and protection for other desert plants. It is amazing to see how such large trees have evolved to survive in the desert, with some species that can live for over 100 years! Shrubs and grasses are suited to withstand the harsh dry winds of the desert, with some shrubs that can grow into the size of trees.

Top 5 Most Popular Trees, Shrubs, and Grasses
Click here for full description and characteristics of each

  1. Palo Verde
  2. Joshua Tree
  3. Tree Aloe
  4. Ocotillo
  5. Mexican Thread Grass

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