A Guide to May Blooms in the Sonoran Desert

A Guide to May Blooms in the Sonoran Desert

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With May we see longer days warmer temperatures here in the Sonoran Desert. For those in search of swaths of color across the desert in the form of precious Spring blooms, many may be dwindling down, however, for dedicated floral lovers of the desert there is still so much color to experience

When will the wildflowers bloom in the desert?

If you are new to the Sonoran Desert, it may be confusing to figure out exactly when flowers will bloom. If you are accustomed to the east of the country this is particularly confusing. The classic saying for children “April showers brings May flowers” doesn’t ring true in this climate. Still, there are quite a lot of blooms to celebrate before the dog days of Summer take over the desert. 

Even for experienced wildflower aficionados of the Sonoran Desert the question of when flowers will bloom is always changing based on specific environmental factors such as the unique combination of sun, wind, water, temperature, and elevation, causing a wide range of microclimates. All these factors set the stage for the precise location of the best May blooms. However, if you do track the weather conditions throughout the year, over time you can learn to better predict where the best flowers will be blooming.

Just the Right Amount of Precipitation

It takes just the perfect amount of rain to bring the blooms in for a large showing. Throughout the Winter rainy season, too little rain provides a poor climate for seed germination while too much rain, may cause seeds to rot or washed away. The rain showers must occur at just the right time of year as well. Too early and or too late and the rain may not contribute to floral blooms at all.


The seeds not only need the just the right amount of watering at just the right time but also the perfect temperatures as well. If temperatures rise too quickly in the desert, (over 85 degrees F. in February/March) the seeds may become burned and dry up. Mildly warm days are an indicator of blooms opening in days ahead. Meanwhile cool nights can quell competing plants from taking over young seedlings which are struggling to flower, but too cold and tender blooms are subject to premature whitling.

When to Plan Your Trip to Find the Best Spring Blooms

The spring flowering season in the Sonoran Dester spans from mid-February to mid-June with its height in Mid-March to late April. Still, now that we are entering May there is no need to worry that you’ve missed everything. While the lowest elevation offers the hottest temperatures and earliest blooms, there still may be more time to catch blooms on higher levels. A clear timeline to base your trip can go something like this, though each year differs just a little bit:

Lower Elevations: 1,000 – 3,000 feet
Yuccas—March and April
Annuals—February, March, and April
Cacti—March, April, and May

Higher Elevations: 3,000 – 5,000 feet
Joshua Trees and Yuccas—March and April
Annuals—March, April, and May
Cacti—April, May, and June

Late Bloomers

Its always a toss up if we will even be lucky enough to catch some of the tender early bloomers often associated with a “super bloom”. However, many of the late blooming plants will flower with more dependability each year. While you might not see as much color, the color you do find—when you find it is vibrant and spectacular.


Because Cacti store water they are not as dependent on the rain. They’ll bloom each year, though in wetter years you’ll find more blooms. because they store water, are independent of rain. They bloom well nearly every year though wetter years produce more flowers. While there are certainly more blooms in April, May has a vibrant showing of cacti worth venturing out to see. Species include:

Prickly pears blooming in early May while the infamous Saguaros, pollinated in majority by bats open their white flower mid-May to mid-June.

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Many of the plants you love can be incorporated with ease into your home garden, creating a natural environment to enjoy the desert in your own backyard. To beat the sun and heat while still enjoying the beautiful environment of the desert, contact us about patio sunscreens and more today.