Desert-Friendly Plants for Coachella Valley Landscapes

Welcome to Desert-Friendly Plants for the Coachella Valley. Use this information to help select landscape plants that grow successfully in California’s low desert region. In the Coachella Valley, up to 80 percent of residential water is used to irrigate landscapes, so growing water-conserving plants goes a long way in saving water. This site does not list all plants that will grow here, but those included are known to perform well in the Coachella Valley. More than 330 plants with over 800 photos are shown and described, listed in alphabetical order by their scientific (botanical) name. Here are the different ways you can access this information:

Search By Plant Type

Click on the photos of Plant Types below to browse and review plants within a specific category.

Advanced Filtering

Advanced Filtering allows you to find plants to fulfill a specific need, such as water use, height or width, flower color, bloom season and more. The more specific your selections, the fewer the plants sorted for your review. Reduce your criteria for more choices. Also, use this feature to search for plants by name—both botanic (Latin) and common names.

Gardening Terms

Wondering what Low Water, Reflected Sun, Hardy to Cold and Canopy Coverage mean? Learn the basics of what a plant needs to grow successfully in your yard.


Select trees carefully, making sure their mature height and width will fit into the available space. These are the functional plants of the landscape. With time and proper selection and location, trees provide privacy, seasonal interest and help decrease heating and cooling costs.


With their wide range of sizes, shapes and foliage and flower colors, shrubs are the most versatile of all plants. Most are attractive in their natural forms, so avoid heavy pruning or topping. They are ideal for screening, defining outdoor spaces and for year-round seasonal interest.


These are the problem-solvers. Bare soil? Cover with a groundcover. Steep slope? Select a groundcover to prevent erosion. A shady corner? There’s a groundcover solution. Groundcovers are lawn alternatives as well as plants that blend and unify a landscape scene.


Vines are the go-to plants for a small-space landscape due to their ability to “go vertical.” Many vines are fast-growing, establishing a presence rather quickly—perfect for a new landscape. Consider, too, the listings under Groundcovers. Many serve double duty as vines.

Ornamental Grasses

Make no mistake, these grasses are not used as lawns. The seedheads and long leaves of ornamental grasses bring the element of movement to the landscape. They offer year-around interest with cooling shades of green in the spring and summer, followed by tans and browns during winter.


Cacti are the heads-above favorites as water misers. Use them to add an explanation point in a design; many also produce incredible flowers. Thorns of many cacti make them excellent security barriers, but these same thorns require that you locate cacti carefully, away from outdoor areas and walkways.


Succulents are among the best plants for providing a desert sense of place. Like cacti, because of their sharp thorns and spines, locate them with their mature size in mind. The sculptural qualities of succulents are unmatched, and the incredible variety of their shapes and sizes make them a designer’s dream.


These are plants that live for more than one year, although many live for several years. Perennials are great choices for a new or renovated landscape—they add color and interest in a short time. Their wide range of forms allows their use as shrubs, groundcovers, or in containers. Many perennial wildflowers reseed so plantings continue for years.


Annuals are plants that grow, flower, produce seed and die in one year. Annuals described here include both bedding plants and wildflowers. Bedding plants are planted from packs or containers. Wildflowers are typically planted as seeds where you want plants to grow. Annuals are temporary plants, so are not valid as Canopy Coverage in lawn replacement programs.