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Southwest Regional Reports

Fragrant Blooms for the Low Desert

Satisfy your sense of smell as well as sight with these gorgeous scented plants

Hummingbird mint’s flamboyant flowers attract pollinators but deter deer and rabbits. Photo: Laurel Startzel

When most people think of the low desert, sweet smells aren’t the first thing that pops into their minds. Typically, we’d think of cacti, palo verdes (Parkinsonia spp. and cvs., Zones 8–11), mesquites (Prosopis spp. and cvs., Zones 6–11), and a lot of brown. But it is possible to have a fragrant garden in the low desert. Here we share some sweet-smelling plants that thrive in the heat and can tolerate a lack of abundant water. Some of the following flowers and foliage are aromatic, and some are fragrant. Typically, an aromatic plant releases its scent when touched or rubbed against, whereas a fragrant plant releases its scent on its own to attract pollinators. Both serve their own purposes but are valuable additions to any garden.

night-blooming jasmine
The flowers of night-blooming jasmine open at night to release their scent. Photo: Diorit via Wikimedia Commons

There’s nothing better than walking out to…

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