What comes to mind when you think of wildflowers?  Maybe beautiful splashes of colorful flowers throughout the desert?  Well, how about growing them yourself instead of driving somewhere to view wildflowers in the spring?  Wildflowers are easy to grow and you have the added benefit of being able to view their beautiful blooms outside your window throughout the spring.  Butterflies and hummingbirds will be drawn to your wildflower garden as well.


Wildflower demonstration garden on a golf course
The wildflower garden above was planted by me about 9 years ago on a golf course.  It was one of three demonstration gardens that I designed.  My goal was to inspire people to grow wildflowers at home.  I planted Red Flax and Arroyo Lupine which are blooming in the photo above.  California Bluebells as well as California Poppies were also planted, but had not bloomed yet.  


Brittlebush is blooming in the background.  (I learned from this experience, that wildflowers should be thinned once they germinate, obviously I did not do that – one of many gardening mistakes that I have learned from over the years).


One of my favorite wildflower combinations are California Bluebells (Phacelia campanularia) along with California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica or mexicana) and Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata).  


I also like this combination – Arroyo Lupine (Lupinus succulentus) with California Poppies and Red Flax (Linum grandiflorum ‘Rubrum’).  The possibilities are absolutely endless….

Scarlet Flax

The ideal time to sow most types of wildflower seed is October through December, so it is time to plan your wildflower garden now.  The Desert Botanical Garden has excellent information on how to grow wildflowers which can be found at Desert Botanical Garden Growing Wildflowers.


*The source that I have used for wildflower seed is a small company called Wild Seed.  They can be reached at 602-276-3536.  They will mail you a catalog of the wildflower seed that they have available. 


 
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

12 replies
  1. Nell Jean
    Nell Jean says:

    That is a stunning wildflower plot. We grow different spring wildflowers here because of high humidity. Of the ones you named, I have planted only California Poppy. It dies off when the summer comes here so I treat it as an annual.

    Reply
  2. Mary Delle
    Mary Delle says:

    Red flax is a knock-out. I haven't tried it in a few years. Good reminder about wildflowers. I got your message about living in LA. I like the growing seasons here, just not the terrible heat combined with the Santa Annas.

    Reply
  3. Meadowsweet
    Meadowsweet says:

    I tried California Poppies once but I didn't get germination at all. I'm not sure what I did wrong but I know I planted in the spring…you have inspired me to check out the seed selection at my local nursery and try scattering before the winter sets in.
    Thanks for the kick start!

    Reply
  4. gardener
    gardener says:

    Hi Noelle. Nice idea combining California poppies with the red flax. Gardens Illustrated did a article this month on orange in the garden and also suggested combining California poppies with French Lavender, Purple Dome Asters or Phormium "Bronze Baby'. In Calgary the Asters might not be in bloom at the right time but you've got me thinking about other dark purple or bronze foliage that might work well in a container with those poppies. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Reply
  5. JGH
    JGH says:

    I would so love to grow poppies! I've tried a few times, but the seedlings are so delicate and never seem to make it(I'm in zone 6) Any tips for nurturing them along??

    I don't play golf, but I'd visit that golf course just for the flowers!

    Reply
  6. VW
    VW says:

    The red in that wildflower pictures is so pretty! I like the way your plot is organized in masses that look appropriate in a developed area. I think wildflower meadows look out of place in suburban spaces, but there are other ways to plant than just mixing all the seeds and tossing them about.

    Reply
  7. Mohammed
    Mohammed says:

    I've noticed in my neighborhood (Oro Valley) that suddenly a lot more things are blooming. It seems the last monsoon rains and cooler temps made everything pop.

    Reply

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