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What grows in the Mojave Desert (Kern County)?

Posted by jordanz 8-9 (Mojave Desert) (My Page) on
Fri, Sep 17, 10 at 14:34

I'm somewhat new the Mojave desert, moved here a couple years ago and have tried experimenting with several flowers/trees for our yard. I live a half hour north of Edwards AFB, 10 minutes away from the city of Mojave. What type of trees, bushes, and flowers grow good here?

I'm a newbie gardener, so any info would be great. I'm not a fan of desert landscaping or too many cactus'. We've had good luck with 2 palm trees that are growing like crazy, but I want some good leafy drougt-tolerant trees that can withstand full 110 sun in the summer, and only need watered once a week or so (like my palm trees).

We've also had good luck growing peter pan grass, and several types of annual flowers (can't rememeber the names, one starts with a 'V')...but those are on soaker hoses each morning. Any flowers or trees that grow great in the desert with only watering 1-2 times per week?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What grows in the Mojave Desert (Kern County)?

Pick up a Sunset Western Gardening book for starters.
Look around your neighborhood and hopefully others are growing something other than cacti and plain hedges.
You might try pansies or violas for color in the winter.
Once you get natives established the first year there is no watering in the summer. There is a section for CA natives in the book I recommend. I would think some of the heat loving salvias and sages would do good there.
Check on manzanitas also.

RE: What grows in the Mojave Desert (Kern County)?

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll check in to that. I can see what other people are growing, but I have no clue what they're called (I don't want to go asking random people what is that your growing!).

I could try pansies, but wouldn't they die when the 100+ heat comes next summer? The annuals that I've planted never really died, and it's been two years now. Not sure why the call them annuals if they keep on growing? I just cut the dead flowers off and trim them down and they keep on blooming! I just want more of a variety then just 2 different kinds of flowers all around the house.

RE: What grows in the Mojave Desert (Kern County)?

You could take pictures and post it on the name that plant forum, ask a nursery or post it on this forum or use the book. It would be a nice way to learn and meet people especially if they are out gardening. Some people are willing to share the knowledge.

Yeah the pansies would probably die in summer they mostly do well in socal in winter and then replace with summer annuals.
Here in socal gardening is different than other parts of the country that actually have 4 seasons. Some do flower all year and some are opposite as the pansies are.

You might get enough cold in winter for some bulbs.
You could try daffodils, freesias get both now and plant right away.

RE: What grows in the Mojave Desert (Kern County)?

Hi Jordan,
You have some tough growing conditions. Cold and windy part of the year, hot like h-e-double toothpicks all summer, and dry as a popcorn fart.

I would look into Pride of Barbados, which grows beautifully in Palmdale in the road medians. It's a really pretty shrub and one variety has deep scarlet and orange blossoms. Oleander will grow in your area, but it is susceptible to a blight which has killed it all off out in Ridgecrest, so the blight might be in your area too. I would check with a local nursery before considering it. I also wonder if purple lantana would grow for you.

You can plant wildflowers, which do very well in the early spring in your neck of the desert and put on a really big show. I know they don't last long, but many flowering plants don't bloom for very long. You can try California Poppies, lupines, verbena, red flax, clarkia, larkspur, bachelor buttons, annual coreopsis, Mexican Hat, and others in wildflower mixes.

I wonder if you can grow Mimosa (Silk Tree). I see it all over Palmdale and Lancaster. You might also look into Palo Verde Tree and Arizona Cypress.

Good luck, and have a good time searching for pretty plants.

RE: What grows in the Mojave Desert (Kern County)?

Chilean Mesquite grow well with no watering once established. Fruitless Mulberries make great shade trees, grow well with little care but have aggressive root systems. Oleanders do well here but are highly toxic to humans and animals. I see a lot of people recommending pepper trees also.

RE: What grows in the Mojave Desert (Kern County)?

There are two great books, both out of print but available used on-line or at your library:

Sunset's "Desert Gardening"

HPBooks' "Plants for Dry Climates" (Duffield & Jones)

I particularly like the latter. Very well illustrated with hundreds of desert plants and with excellent plant selection lists.

No, you don't need to have a garden of sparse cactus and succulents.


RE: What grows in the Mojave Desert+

I found this great-looking website.


Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Plants for the High Desert

RE: What grows in the Mojave Desert (Kern County)?

I thought of a few more things you could try that have showy flowers:
Desert Willow
Mexican Elderberry
Blue Flax

I grow all of these except for the Desert Willow and I especially love gaura. I grew my Blue Flax from seed, and it took a year to bloom.

RE: What grows in the Mojave Desert (Kern County)?

  • Posted by jean001 z8aPortland, OR (My Page) on
    Sat, Sep 18, 10 at 22:21

Contact the Kern County Extension Service. Likely they'll have lists of useful plants.

Here's how you find the office.
Click on the map (link below), click your state, then your county. Tada! That's it.

Here is a link that might be useful: clickable map from USDA

RE: What grows in the Mojave Desert (Kern County)?

I checked for plants native to that area and noticed these particularly desirable plants listed:

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)
Brodiaea minor (dwarf brodiaea)
Calochortus kennedyi (desert mariposa lily)
Calochortus splendens (splendid mariposa lily)
Calochortus striatus (alkali mariposa lily)
Calochortus venustus (butterfly mariposa lily)
Cupressus arizonica (Arizona cypress)
Dichelostemma capitatum (blue dicks)
Eriogonum fasciculatum (Eastern Mojave buckwheat)
Fremontodendron californicum (California flannelbush)
Iris missouriensis (Rocky Mountain iris)
Keckiella breviflora (gaping bush beardtongue)
Lupinus excubitus (grape soda lupine)
Lupinus formosus (summer lupine)
Lupinus grayi (Sierra lupine)
Lupinus latifolius (broadleaf lupine)
Mirabilis laevis (wishbone bush)
Mirabilis multiflora (desert four o'clock)
Oenothera californica (California evening-primrose)
Penstemon grinnellii (Grinnell's beardtongue)
Penstemon incertus (Mojave beardtongue)
Penstemon laetus (mountain blue beardtongue)
Penstemon rostriflorus (beaked beardtongue)
Penstemon speciosus (showy beardtongue)
Ribes cereum (Squaw currant)
Stanleya pinnata (desert prince's plume)

Since my garden's conditions are very different from those of the Mojave desert, I can't grow most of these. But I do grow the common yarrow and the Eastern Mojave buckwheat, and I like them both very much. I would grow all the plants on this list if they would grow where I live!

RE: What grows in the Mojave Desert (Kern County)?

Wow, thanks everybody for all the great recommendations, I have a lot of research to do! I appreciate the help!

I do see a lot of Oleandars, but have elected to stay away due to how poisonous they are (for the dog and baby). I really like the Pride of Barbados, Mimosa (isn't that called the Desert Willow too?), and Chilian Mesquite trees...those are all really pretty.

The Gaura, Blue Flax, and Milkweed are all nice flowers too. Lots of good local/wild flowers too. I'll probably have to go to a local nursery to find those types of flowers. I usually just go to Lowes/HD since they have a 1 year warranty on all plants/flowers.

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