A Suite of Persian Plants for the Southwest

If you have been following Southwest Gardening for a while you might have noticed that I (Jacqueline) draw inspiration for my posts from various celebrations around the world – like Greek herbs for Greece Independence Day, or how to grow spinach for National Spinach Lovers Month. This post celebrates the birthday of Baha’ullah, one of the founders of the Baha’i faith, born November 12,1817, in Persia. The Baha’i faith has more than 7 million followers worldwide.southwest-pomegranate-flowers-persian


Where is Persia?

Of course, Persia as a country doesn’t exist anymore, but its boundaries once stretched from Macedonia to Hindustan and from sea level to timberline, so there was once a great deal of territory and landscape (kind of like our Southwest region!). From this vast area, more than 50 Persian plants have found their way into Southwest nurseries, and yes, this botanist has been adding to a checklist of them for years!

If we start with “A,” we could talk about almond and Aloe vera, both native to Persia, and both previously discussed in these pages, but rather than bore you with a list, let’s look at some categories.



Citrus. Many species of citrus come from Persia. While some species of citrus are more tropical, the genetic stock for the “Ten-degree tangerine” comes to us from northern Persia. This tangerine can take our colder areas. (Read more about citrus and pomegranate in my book Southwest Fruit & Vegetable Gardening, see below.)

Pomegranate. This unusual fruit is said to have been domesticated more than 7,000 years ago! There are countless cultivars, including pretty little dwarf plants that flower all summer as charming patio plants, producing tiny decorative fruits. Pomegranate also comes in 6-foot shrubs and 30-foot trees, so if you want a fruit, select carefully for your yard!



Hyacinth. If you live in the lower areas of the Southwest, you can still plant hyacinth bulbs in your garden this fall. They are very fragrant and pretty, and the bunnies don’t bother mine!  Best of all — I adore the fact that you can leave them in the ground all summer and they will poke their little blooms above ground year after year. If you want to have a fragrant flower for the holidays, try “forcing” some hyacinth bulbs, discussed last year -– here.

iris-bulbs-persian-southwestIris. Most people don’t know that iris come as bulbs, not just rhizomes, and that there are many species of bulb iris! The deserts of eastern Persia are home to many beautiful iris bulbs that are another “plant-it-and-forget-it” kind of plant. They come back each year with a charming fragrant display. You might have to search a bit for the bulbs, but they tolerate our alkaline soil much better than their iris cousins that grow as rhizomes. Just plant the bulbs where they get afternoon shade in March so the flowers last for a long time.

Butterflies appreciate marjoram blooms. This could be part of your pollinator garden!


Marjoram. Flavorful and easy to grow, marjoram is a low-water herb from the arid mountains of Persia. It is easy to grow in a shady situation. My marjoram prefers filtered light under the palo verde tree, and won’t grow beyond its shady boundaries.

Mint is another herb from Persia.  We discussed mint a while ago – here.

Sorry to keep sending you to links to our other pages, but I wanted to share just how many of these plants are commonly grown in the Southwest!  Hopefully you will enjoy some of these Persian plants in your yard.

If you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. I do try to mention them on our Facebook page. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening” (Cool Springs Press). This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there we will get a few pennies.

© Article copyright Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. You can use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit, plus you must include a link back to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.

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  • Koibeatu

    Thank you for this gentle shout out to the Baha’i.
    The Baha’i faith is an overlooked religion based on trying to be kind – to really treat others as you wish to be treated. Baha’i do not think the sea should run red with your blood because you do not believe as we do, unlike many other religions with citizens in “Persia,” which I realize is an unkind but also very truthful statement.
    Bless you for mentioning the birth of Bahá’u’lláh!

  • Louise Schimmel

    Thank you for this. Though there are pomegranates at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, it never occurred to me to plant a couple at home. What a good idea!