How to Plant and Grow Perennial Louisiana Iris + Other Types of Iris
Recently some good friends celebrated my birthday by wining and dining us in their lovely home. They bade us farewell giving us a large vase of two dozen cut stems of Louisiana Irises that were in bloom along with a birthday card and memories of a lovely evening.
Talk about great birthday gifts! It is about a week now since that evening spent with friends and the irises are still gracing our home with their beauty.
This made me think of our experiences growing irises throughout the years in various locations both in northern climes as well as southern ones.
For anyone looking to grow a hearty and perennial flower that spreads fairly rapidly, this just might be what you are seeking!
Irises also make for great cut flowers that last for quite some time. They are re-blooming flowers in the sense that the top flowers are followed by other buds on the same stalk that open generally one at a time. Just snip the spent iris flowers off and watch that stalk bloom again and again until the last bud is opened.
Different Types of Iris
Anyone seeking a specific color for their garden landscape will certainly be able to find it within the family of irises.
Irises come in an almost limitless number of colors as there are many hundreds of varieties / families of these satisfying flower plants!
They come in bulb form and also grow from rhizomes. Rhizomes are fleshy thick roots that grow horizontally just under the ground.
When my husband and I were transferred from Houston and lived in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin for four years, my grandmother gave us some tulip bulbs and also some iris rhizomes from her garden.
Like many perennial plants as they grow, replicate and spread, eventually they need to be thinned so that the remaining bulbs or rhizomes have room to take in nourishment from the soil and produce large and showy blossoms.
Thus we gained some great perennial flowers for our new yard and garden areas while also aiding my grandmother's garden beds in keeping them healthy.
Prior to leaving Wisconsin when coming back to Houston we were able to share hundreds of those perennials with our friends and neighbors who have probably done the same by now as it was many years ago when we lived there.
Bulb Irises as well as Rhizome Irises both come from the Iris Genus. These two groups are broken down into more categories.
We mostly grew the Bearded Iris in Wisconsin which blooms in the Springtime of the year as do the tulips. They have large blossoms with caterpillar-like fuzzy areas on the petals that droop down. You can see an example in the photo below. They come in all kinds of different colors.
Full sun or many hours of sun per day and well drained soil with reasonable amounts of water are the requirements for most Iris.
However there are some Iris that can actually grow successfully in marshy areas and actually like their "feet" kept wet.
These are the Louisiana Iris of which we are familiar in the Houston area. Others that like wet conditions are the Japanese and Siberian Iris.
In our part of the country the Louisiana Iris are mostly evergreen in nature whereas the more northern grown varieties die back and put up new growth each Spring.
Successfully Growing Irises
Years ago I purchased 5 different colored Louisiana Iris from a Bulb Mart at a Houston church. It did not take long before we were sharing irises with others.
They grow easily in our hot and humid climate and actually love our generally moist and acid soil. Our soil is quite heavy and consists of much clay which holds water.
The thick rhizome roots spread rapidly and my only mistake was in letting the different colored irises get too close together as they spread. The more dominant colors took over and what was originally 5 different colors over time became just 2 or 3. The lavender, blues and purples seemed to predominate.
So from my experience, if you are wanting various colors keep them spaced far enough from each other so that their colors do not blend.
Also keep in mind that while you cannot see the rhizomes just under the ground, they can grow and spread quickly thereby becoming quite friendly with a neighboring plant. At least that is what I imagine happened to those other colored irises.
Interesting Iris Quote
"Since Iris is the Greek goddess for the Messenger of Love, her sacred flower is considered the symbol of communication and messages.
Greek men would often plant an iris on the graves of their beloved women as a tribute to the goddess Iris, whose duty it was to take the souls of women to the Elysian fields."
-Hana No Monogatari : The Story of Flowers
Many States Claim the Iris as a State Flower!
Did you know the following?
- The Louisiana Iris is the state wildflower of Louisiana.
- The Dwarf Lake Iris is the state wildflower for Michigan.
- Iris is the state cultivated flower for the State of Tennessee.
If you are playing the game Trivial Pursuit this information just may come in handy!
Or perhaps you can casually share this information around the water cooler today with your co-workers and amaze them with your knowledge. (Smile)
These three States claim the Iris for State Flowers.
If you wish to be rewarded by a hearty and perennial plant that has flowers that are re-blooming for quite some time, grow in a variety of climates and make terrific cut flowers, think of growing irises.
These pictures and videos should give you some idea of the variety of irises and the brownest of thumbs should have success. One need not be an expert gardener to succeed with these flower plants and soon you will have some to share with family or friends.
Close-ups of Irises set to horn music
Have you grown Irises?
© 2011 Peggy Woods