Aromatic Desert Flowers: Fragrant Plants For Desert Regions

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

The desert can be a harsh environment and punishing to gardeners. Finding appropriate aromatic desert flowers might pose a challenge. Filling the landscape with desert plants that smell good isn’t as hard as one might think though. There are several native plants that will thrive and even some super tough perennials. Keep reading for some fragrant desert flower ideas to perfume your garden.

Choosing Fragrant Plants in Dry Climates

When you think of sweet-smelling flowers, often the tropical beauties come to mind. However, the desert is an altogether different environment. The extreme heat and cold, blazing sun, and lack of water mean plants have to be very tough. Cactus is a perfect example and while many do get flowers, few actually smell nice. Fragrant plants for desert gardens will balance the traditional plants used in arid regions.

You can expand the variety of plants you grow in an arid landscape by choosing xeriscape plants. These are adapted to have low water needs and many love the searing heat. Also, select plants that can grow in shade where less water is necessary.

When choosing your fragrant desert flowers, include herbs. These will bloom and smell lovely and are super hardy. Consider these:

  • Mexican anise

Bushy and Vined Desert Plants That Smell Good

Creosote is a classic desert shrub which has fragrant leaves that may appeal to one but not another. Mariola is another plant with scented foliage and a hardy nature. Here are some other shrub-like fragrant plants for desert sites to include:

  • Western mugwort
  • Damianita
  • Beebrush
  • Green brittlebush
  • Dyssodia
  • Arabian jasmine

Fragrant Desert Flowers

Flowering plants are probably your best bet for fragrant plants that smell good. Penstemon is a perennial with softly blushed spikes of flowers. Alyssum develops into a carpet and emits a nice fragrance. If you are a fan of chocolate, grow a chocolate flower, whose characteristic scent emits in the morning. Additional desert plants that smell good include:

  • Tufted evening primrose
  • Scarlet bee blossom
  • Mock vervain
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