In the Garden:
Southern Coasts
May, 2001
Regional Report

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Louisiana iris grow in sunny, wet sites with ease, producing beautiful flowers in spring and early summer.

Louisiana Beauties

As a native of Louisiana, I'm offended if you haven't yet planted a Louisiana iris in your garden. More important, you're missing some of the easiest flowers to grow in any sunny, wet location. I've grown these beauties in garden beds, on pond banks, and even in pots submerged in shallow water, and they thrived.

Louisiana Iris Essentials

Louisiana iris can grow in average to moderately fertile soil. They seem to like a neutral pH, which is typical of many soils in our region. They offer a wide range of flower colors and combinations, including almost every color except true orange.

Planting Iris

I've grown Louisiana iris for years. To plant them, I dig up the site, amend it with a bit of compost, and lay a soaker hose nearby if rainfall isn't plentiful. Louisiana iris need a balanced fertilizer spread in spring and fall to support their growth. They produce beautiful flowers this time of year, but keep them in the garden. The smell of Louisiana iris remind me of wet cats in heat.

Best Varieties

The Louisiana iris came to prominence through the breeding work of passionate individuals such as Marie Caillet and the Society for Louisiana Irises. Even with a history dating back to Audubon, new varieties of this "swamp iris" come out each year.

I must confess that my favorite Louisiana iris is the species Iris fulva. Known as copper iris in my childhood, they have naturalized in ditches and swamps but look great in flower beds as well. I grow them in a location that receives a little bit more than half a day of sun. I feed them in spring and fall with a hose-end sprayer and soluble fertilizer. Louisiana iris will absorb plenty of nutrients through their leaves as well as their roots. A little cleanup of dead leaves from around the crown in fall, and that's it to take care of these easy-to- grow perennials.

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