Wildflower season expected to be a bust this spring


by Kim Quintero

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Posted on February 21, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 21 at 5:20 PM

PHOENIX -- A dry winter in the Valley is expected to put a damper on the Sonoran Desert wildflower season come March and April.

“I’d be sad because I love the spring. That’s the most beautiful season here in the desert,” said Dawn Lau, a Fountain Hills resident.

Lau spent Friday morning wandering through the wildflower trail at the Desert Botanical Gardens with visiting family.

“I was just telling my sister and brother who are visiting how beautiful it is when we have the orange and the yellow and the blue blossoms,” Lau said.

“In order to get a really good wildflower display out in the wild, you need about an inch of rain for germination,” said Ray Leimkuehler, horticulturist at the Desert Botanical Gardens. “So, that’s an inch of rain in one event, and then you need an inch of rain per month.”

With not a trace of rain so far this winter, the Valley is running several inches behind what’s needed for annual flowers to flourish.

“It’s not something you can expect every year," Leimkuehler said. "It’s something that’s hard to duplicate maybe on your own landscape. So, a lot of times, it’s something you can only view in the wild."

Leimkuehler said annuals like California golden poppies, sunflowers, lupins and desert blue bells will be scarce this March and April. Perennials, like brittlebush, usually still put out color without any rain.

Since Leimkuehler cultivates and irrigates the wildflower trail at the Desert Botanical Garden, flowers should start blooming there in two to three weeks.

The Desert Botanical Garden has more information about where to see wildflowers around Arizona on its website.