When will they bloom?
When will the wildflowers bloom in the desert?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions about desert wildflowers. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult to answer. Each year, the unique combination of sun, wind, water, temperature and elevation sets the stage for the precise location of the best springtime blooms. Use the following information to make your own predictions for this spring's showing.
Rain is needed in small doses throughout the winter. Too little rain provides a poor climate for seed germination. Too much rain, and the seeds could rot or be washed away. Showers too early or too late in the season may not help the flowers bloom.
Temperature is also critical. Warm days are a good indicator of a full bloom ahead. If the sun gets too hot though, (over 85 degrees F. in February/March) the seeds may become parched and seedlings scorched. Cool nights can assist flower seedlings by slowing the growth of competitors like grasses and mustards. However, very cold temperatures mean bad news for blossoms.
When will the flowers bloom? None of us knows for sure. Each year's bloom is unique in its variety, profusion and timing. From late February through March, you can find blossoms on the desert floor. To plan your visit to coincide with the peak of the bloom, take advantage of the various wildflower hotlines and information sources available from DesertUSA and the state and national parks.
If you should happen to miss the peak, take consolation in the fact that you've missed the peak crowds as well. A tranquil walk through the desert will reward you any time of year. For weekly updates see our Wildflower Watch.
We have a online Wildflower Field Guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. A good book is the Mojave Desert Wildflowers Book
Need tips on how to get that great photo, we have several articles on DesertUSA that will help. Links to DesertUSA photography articles.
Spring Blooming Periods
Lower Elevations: 1,000 3,000 feet
YuccasMarch and April
AnnualsFebruary, March, and April
CactiMarch, April, and May
Higher Elevations: 3,000 5,000 feet
Joshua Trees and YuccasMarch and April
AnnualsMarch, April, and May
CactiApril, May, and June
We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.
Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.
Mojave Desert Wildflowers - This book is the standard by which all other wildflower books are measured. The author, Jon Mark Stewart, has combined super photography with concise information. This book has an entire color page for each wildflower covered, with a discussion of the wildflower. 210 pages with 200 color photos. More...
What's Blooming Now - Check the Wildflower Reports
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