Even though the word Sahara brings thoughts of barren wasteland, there are quite a few lush thickets in the Sahara that are a haven of flora. Sahara desert plants that most gardeners know and love are the same that can be grown in their own gardens. These desert plants, which can grow in the Sahara, will make you rethink your ideas on desert gardening.
Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus), is from the sedge family. It is also known as biblical bulrush and Egyptian papyrus. It is a fast-growing, evergreen perennial that gets 10 feet tall and features feathery spikes. There are tiny flowers at the ends of the spikes. Leaves are only at the very lowest part of the plant. It grows in wet soil in sun or partial shade. Propagate by clump division. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones of 9 to 11.
Fig (Ficus carica), which is from the mulberry family, is also known as common fig. It is a shrub that attracts songbirds. It will get 15 to 30 feet tall with deciduous leaves that are 4 inches long. Fruits are edible. It grows in partial sun to full sun in well-drained, average soil. Propagate via root suckers or hardwood winter cuttings. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 8-10.
Thyme, Thymus vulgaris, is from the mint family. It is also known as lemon thyme, garden thyme and common thyme. It is a fragrant, evergreen perennial herb. It will get 6 to 12 inches tall with purple flowers. Leaves are grayish-green and fuzzy. It grows in neutral to alkaline soil in full sun or partial shade. Propagate via seed or cuttings. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones of 5 to 9.
Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera), is from the palm family. It is a drought-tolerant palm that gets up to 100 feet in height. Leaves are greenish-gray or bluish-gray and 18 to 20 feet long. Fruits are dates, yellowish-orange, and 1 ½ inches long. It grows in poor soils and bright sun. Propagate via seed or suckers. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones of 9 to 11.
Oleander (Nerium oleander), is from the dogbane family. It is a fragrant, evergreen, fast-growing shrub. It will get 6 to 10 feet tall with some specimens up to 20 feet tall. Flowers are white, red, salmon, yellow or pink. Leaves are 4 to 10 inches long and bright green. It grows in bright sun in wet or dry soil. Propagate via semi-ripe cuttings in summer or by seed. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones of 8 to 10.