Garden Plants for the Low Desert

We have dedicated web pages for over 150 low desert plants that includes details about each plant’s characteristics and the role they play as part of the pollinator web; these pages are part of our Interpretive Trails Project.

PW Interpretive Trails Project – Join Us!

Imagine a world where every garden, school yard, and public space becomes an immersive and educational experience.

A place where nature and knowledge intertwine to create stunning interpretive trails.

With a simple scan using your smartphone, you’ll unlock a whole new level of information and convenience.

No more searching through countless books or websites to find details about your plants.

Not every landscape plant qualifies for the Recommended Plant list, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a place in your landscape. Some common low desert landscape plants have aesthetic value, but perhaps not so many benefits to native bees or pollinators – these plants are organized under this page.

You can search for a name on this page:

The list of plants that grow in the Southwest and can serve as host or nectar plants can be overwhelming. Selecting plants for your garden is made even more difficult by the dizzying array of plants sold at box stores.

If you’re serious about supporting pollinators, you can whittle down the list by removing plants that have been hybridized for color, plants that take a lot of water to make it through the summer heat, and plants that have been treated with pesticides to increase their beauty and shelf life.

Regarding pesticides, ask a store attendant if they can definitively say that their plants are pesticide free. Unless, of course, the label on the plant explicitly states that no pesticides were used. Neonicotinoid pesticides are especially harmful, and can stay in the plant for a season or more. As an aside, this also means that you shouldn’t use pesticides in your pollinator garden either – here is a list of common pesticides.

Native, Nativar, Cultivar

“Most cultivars, including nativars, are propagated by cloning, so that each plant has the same genetic makeup as the parent plant, and so on. A cloned cultivar has a set genetic package. Sometimes these clones go on to participate in the natural reproductive cycle by cross-pollinating with other true natives, sometimes they do not.”

MPPH – Maricopa Pollinator Pathway Host Starter Palette
MPPN – Maricopa Pollinator Pathway Nectar Starter Palette
* – Coming Soon

A, B

C, D

E, F, G, H, I, J

K, L, M, N, O

P, Q

  • Paleface Hibiscus (Hibiscus denudatus) Rock Hibiscus, Naked Hibiscus
  • Palo Verde Trees (Parkinsonia spp) Foothill Palo Verde, Little Leaf Palo Verde, Parkinsonia macrophylla, Blue Palo Verde, Parkinsonia florida, Palo Brea, Sonoran Palo Verde, Parkinsonia praecox, Mexican Palo Verde, Parkinsonia aculeata, Desert Museum Palo Verde, Parkinsonia x ‘Desert Museum’
  • *Pam’s Pink Honeysuckle
  • Parish’s Goldeneye (Bahiopsis parishii) Nevada Goldeneye, Parish’s Scrub-Aster, Shrubby Goldeneye
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) – MPPH
  • Passion Vine (Passiflora spp) Passiflora arida, Passiflora arizonica, Passiflora incarnata, Maypop, Passion Flower, Purple Passion Vine, Passiflora foetida
  • Penstemon spp Beardtongues, Beardtongue, Parry’s Penstemon, Firecracker Penstemon, Penstemon eatonii, Penstemon parryi, Jarritos, Red Penstemon, Penstemon barbatus, Scented Beardtongue, Penstemon palmeri, Arizona Penstemon, Penstemon pseudospectabilis, Hill Country Penstemon, Penstemon triflorus
  • Perennial Rockcress (Boechera perennans) Arabis angulata, Arabis arcuata var. perennans, Arabis eremophila, Arabis gracilenta, Arabis perennans, Arabis recondite
  • Pesticide Free Zone (see Specialty tags below)
  • Pineleaf Milkweed (Asclepias linearis) Hierba del Cuervo
  • Pink Fairyduster (Calliandria eriophylla) False Mesquite, Hairy-Leaved Calliandra, Mesquitella, Mock Mesquite, Pink Fairyduster, Pink-flowered Acacia, Pink Mimosa, Stickpea, Huajillo, Mezquitillo, Cosahui, Pelo de Angel, Cabeza de Angel
  • Poppies (Eschscholzia spp) Eschscholzia californica, California poppy, Eschscholzia glyptosperma, Desert Poppy, Eschscholzia mexicana, Mexican gold poppy, Eschscholzia minutiflora, Small-flowered poppy, Eschscholzia cespitosa, Tufted poppy, Goldenpoppy, Amapola, Amapola del Campo, Amarilla
  • Prairie Acacia (Acaciella angustissima) Whiteball Acacia, Fern Acacia, Ocpatl, Prairie Acacia, Prairie Wattle, White Ball Acacia, Whiteball Acacia, Spanish: Guajillo, Day, Cantemó Palo de Pulque, Barbas de Chivo
  • Prickly Pear (Opuntia spp) Engelmann’s Prickly Pear, Indian Fig, Opuntia ficus-indica, Opuntia engelmannii, Santa Rita, Opuntia santa-rita, Plains, Opuntia polycantha, Purple, Opuntia macrocentra, Old Mexico, Opuntia gomei
  • Purple Threeawn (Arstida purpurea) Red Threeawn, Purple Three Awn
  • Queen’s Wreath (Antigonon leptopus) Coral Vine, Confederate Vine, Mexican Coral Vine, Mexican Creeper, Mountain-rose Coralvine, Pink Vine, Queen’s Jewels, Sanmiguelito, Flor de San Miguel, Coronella, Coronillo, Bellissima, Cadeña de Amor

R, S

T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z