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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Louisiana Iris

The Louisiana Irises have become my fast friends this week as I worked about the garden.

Not being sure what to expect when the Louisiana Irises, Iridaceae decided to bloom you can imagine my excitement when I started noticing scapes or spikes shooting out among the leaves. They definitely looked like what might be the beginning of buds. Never having seen the process before I was eagerly checking on them daily.
A few days later... sure enough ... the promise of those buds popped out into the warm sunshine.
(Speaking of warm. We had 80's during the day and 70's at night all last week. Whew. That's summer weather!)

One short day later buds began to unfurl. Four or five on each stalk. One or two on each scape opening at the same time then fading in a couple of days while more opened up.

Louisiana Irises prefer moisture. They do really well in standing water so a pond or lake would be ideal for them. But they also adapt to ordinary acidic garden soil. That's what they live in here. You have to love their versatility.
It was noted by this gardener how well the erect greenery withstood the freezing/frosty temps we had back in January without any damage. They stand about 3 feet tall. This 'clump' sits in a slightly sloping spot with the goal being they will catch any water run off below some agapanthus and next to the stone pathway that winds through that planting bed.

Last year I got adventurous (more like brave) and placed an Internet order for a few perennials I had never grown in the past. Bare root plants were also new to me. Let's just say I was a bit surprised when the order came and literally all six tiny Louisiana Iris, Sinfonietta roots fit into a (very) small cellophane baggie.

Not being confident or sure if they would bloom or even live, for that matter, I did what I usually do when I'm not sure. I planted them in a couple of different locations in the yard to verify which place grows them best. It's like my own little gardening experiment.

Bearded Iris of any kind don't do well in our humid climate. But I had read that Louisiana Irises actually don't mind the humidity of our summers. The two places I planted them are varied in sunlight exposure. Overall I'd say each has grown and bloomed equally as well as the other. You can't ask for more than that from a new plant.
Another Iris I grow is the African Iris, Dietes iridioides . Usually sparked by a good rain shower, they bloom continuously through spring and sporadically through summer. Their numerous white blooms are striking in contrast to the very tall, erect, deep green leaves. This variety is particularly easy to propogate by division which I have done in numerous places throughout the garden.

Louisiana Iris offers many cultivars and a wide range of colors. For my initial trial Iris I chose the deep bluish-purple of Sinfonietta. The lemony-limey yellow throat and prominent veins on the petals are very appealing to me.

Now that I know they will bloom here, I also know what I'll be doing once they are finished. They should divide quite easily. Next year when spring rolls around we will have lots more of these plants to give us even more concentrated color. Even though the entire bloom time probably only lasts a couple of weeks their overall merits have earned them more space in the garden.

I hope everyone is basking in their own springtime blooms and gardening adventures... and all the many wonders spring brings to the garden! Have a great weekend. Meems


  1. Meems,

    I love Louisiana irises. I had some at a previous home and have them on my wish list here. The blue is my favorite, too.

    I've never tried the African irises, so I'll have to see if they will overwinter here without lifting in the fall.


  2. How beautiful! This year, especially, those irises earned their space. We have developed the habit in recent years of taking vacation during the spring and early summer and that has seriously hurt our landscaping. Now that the azaleas are out of bloom and everything else has been seriously cut back, we have only the star jasmine blooms and random sunflowers (thanks only to the birds) for any color. It's depressing. It's such a joy to take a virtual tour through your beautiful gardens, Meems. Thank you.

  3. I had no idea that there was something that looked like a Siberian iris (good to Zone 2) that grew in southern climes. Surfed around to discover that there are 4 different types of Louisiana iris - I. nelsonii, brevicaulis, hexagona & fulva - all so very different - all gorgeous and sadly, endangered. Can't think of a better home-garden to end up in than yours.

  4. I think they are as lovely as any orchid. Sadly, it's too cold for them here.

  5. Cameron,
    Check the link I put in the post for information on the African. I'm kind of wondering if the unusually cold winter we had helped the Louisiana's to bloom. Once we have a typical winter I'll be able to test that theory.

    The plants that were damaged here from the freezes have not recovered. Some of them are making a come back but we have a long way to go. It's nice to have some "new" things coming along though --it eases the sting of what we lost. We also LOVE this time of year to get away but I have to say I pretty much plan our time away around the garden. Mr. Meems thinks I'm a bit looney about it but- hey - too much investment to let it all go for some fun. :-)

    Barbara, Here's a really good link for more information on the Louisiana Iris. I haven't read anywhere about them being endangered... hmmm... I'll look again.

  6. Marnie,
    You have a point there... orchids are very similar.

  7. I always shy away from plants that seem to require standing water! There will be none of that come this summer but plenty of soggy ground all winter. meems your Louisiana iris are beautiful...and you've chosen the perfect colors for your garden!
    Do you grow Sisyrinchium angustifolium, Blue Eyed Grass is a tiny iris that would be sweet in your garden. Of course, i will not be at all surprised if you already have it! Have a delicious weekend! gail

  8. Those are beautiful. I know how much you like discovering new plants and blooms that will thrive in your garden.

  9. Meems,
    I've been patiently waiting for our Sinfonietta iris to open it's first bloom, and voila here it is. It should be open this afternoon, now I see what I have to look forward to when it opens! Wow!

  10. Gail,
    The standing water thing made me very leary but all the information I read reiterated the fact they adapted well to ordinary garden conditions. I am out handwatering so often (the containers mostly) that I always make a pass by the irises... just for good measure.
    YES, I just last month discovered blue eyed grass and now that you mention it I remember my new friend, Jane (at the native plant nursery in Dunnellon) mentioning it was in the iris family... totally forgot about that until now. I have divided all six of the plants I bought from her for $2 each and put them in 3 different beds. They are SOOOOOO adorable and such a delight the way they bloom. I will keep dividing them each year to make more of an impact.

  11. What an absolutely perfect shade of blue! Beautiful, Meems!

  12. mjm,
    You are SO right. Discovering ... then nurturing.... then the thrill of the fruit is so much of what gardening is about.

    Jamie and Randy,
    Yay... you are going to love it, too. AND I really like all the other blooms going on in your spring garden.

  13. Nancy,
    Thanks so much. It is a nicely composed flower overall.

  14. I agree, Louisiana Iris are wonderful plants. I have a huge clump in my garden that have been there for years and I do virtually ignore them and they still bloom every year! That is a beautiful one you have!

  15. Hi Meems~~ And it looks like the foliage will last beyond the blooms. The tall, spiky green is a beautiful contrast to your lush plantings surrounding them.

    Bare root plants can be really disappointing. In the climate I garden in bare root purchases always get potted into humble containers so I can keep a good eye on them. One never knows. :)

  16. Beautiful blooms, I been thinking about planting some in my garden, but I’m not sure how they would do in my S Florida climate

  17. That's a beautiful Iris. I'm so glad your first venture into mailorder plants was a good one. Lousiana Irises are one type that I can't grow, as my soil isn't acidic and it is the opposite of moist.

  18. Meems I love irises and would love to grow them here. They are not common on the island and are all imports. The walking irises the yellow ones that are common in Florida have become quite prolific here. I have an unidentified blue that grows very tall and a few new ones hoping to see the flowers one day. When am up in Florida I will definitely bring a few back with me.

  19. Hi Meems....the Louisiana Iris is beautiful, and I love the colour......I was surprised you could plant them In Florida but after reading your post I understand.......I hope she does well......

    Strangely I have planted Iris here for the first time.......I have Iris Germanica Mixed........mine should flower in late spring......after seeing yours I am so excited.......

    I loved your comment on my post....thank you.....
    Have a peaceful time in your garden......

  20. I've grown a variety of Irises in my garden but never tried the Louisana one. I'll be on the lookout for an area of my garden that collects some extra moisture (like next to the A/C unit). These look like they would be a great addition to my yard. The color you picked is fabulous!

  21. Interesting.I was always under th eimpression Irises wouldn't do well here.Now that I've seen your's I must check that link out.
    we have some low spots here that would be perfect for them.Thanks for the info.

  22. meems,

    we aren't quite basking here it's more like rowing around in little row boats in our spring weather. i went out earlier to survey the damages. we had lots of plants uprooted. and others drowning.

    your irises are so wonderful i don't know which i like more. but the new l/irises are definitely a keeper. i love the throat on them too. i haven't done any irises here but i grew them in fl. i have always loved them.

    so glad you having good gardening weather. have a happy april spring weekend.

  23. What great pictures! I'm a big iris fan - bearded, Siberian, Japanese, Louisiana, etc, though I haven't tried Louisianas yet. Can't remember if they're hardy in zone 5, but I've seen some gorgeous ones in catalogs. Enjoy.

  24. Earlier today I noticed that I finally have an iris about to bloom. I was so excited!

  25. Hi Meems, that was so enjoyable. I think the bud stalks are nearly as pretty as the flowers too. We have a yellow one that neighbors gave us. They spread so quickly I dug them all up and gave them away. There is always a little piece left in the ground to regrow. I bought Black Gamecock this year, we'll see if it blooms. Love your little blue one.

  26. Hello Meems, I've just found your blog. Your irises are beautiful. I've never grown irises - will have to try them! The African iris is especially striking.

  27. They are beautiful. It is scary to buy those plants in the little baggies. Sometimes they do well though. I have trouble with the ones from Lowe's and Walmart like that. They seem to be hit or miss when it comes to living. If they live it is worth it.

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  28. Hey Meems, Gorgeous Iris... I have some little Iris that look just like that --but I have been told that they are called "American" Iris. Are your Louisiana ones different??? Or--are they all one-and-the-same?


  29. Meems - I love the delicate pattern on your Louisiana Irises. I have several of them -- Professor Neils, that have the same markings, but are a cranberry hue with yellow. Mine are just coming up, so I will have to wait to see them bloom. I'm so glad I got to see yours so early. They are fabulous.

  30. Sheila,
    It's interesting to note you don't do too much to your Irises... they seem like easy performers so far here.

    Last year the foliage just got thicker and taller. Thanks-I like the texture they add to the garden. That's probably a really good idea to start bare root plants in a pot. I just put my directly in the ground and had to baby them until established.

    You might want to check out the link from my post. It will help you understand if you can grow them in Miami.

    It was blogging that got me interested in mail order. I'd never even heard of some of the plants I started seeing on blogs. The only way to get them was through mail order. Everything I ordered did pretty good except for some Crocosmia bulbs... they never bloomed. I think it might be too hot here for them. I'm not sure.

    The walking Iris is intriguing... I need to check into those as I've just recently been exposed to them... not sure why I haven't heard of them before now.

    It rained this morning. We needed it so badly. I love the freshness of the garden after a nice rain. This afternoon the breezes were blowing around me while I worked in the garden. It was a peaceful afternoon... thanks.

    It's always fun to find new spots for a desired plant. Somehow us gardeners have a knack for finding space don't we?

    That bare root experience was most interesting. I haven't been eager to order any of them this year. But at least now I know what dedication it takes to get them going at first.

  31. Chris,
    There are probably lots of really cool things you could plant next to your lake. I am always dreaming about having a pond for some of the plants I'd like to place in or near water.

    I'm so sorry to hear about damage to your plants.

    Now you've got me wondering what kind of Irises you grew here.
    I'm glad the variety I picked actually turned out like the photo.

    We are cooling down a bit here this weekend -- a welcomed change from the 80's last week.

    Hi VW,
    It seems Irises intrigue gardeners - maybe because there are so many varieties with so many colors... they are exotic too, I think.

    Anything 'about to bloom' brings such excitement doesn't it? I'll be looking for yours, too.

    It sounds like you have the magic touch for Irises. I'm liking the sound of "black gamecock"... I'll have to look that one up... I'm thinking something very deeply colored! Did you order yours bare root? Or do you have another source? I'm feeling very tempted now.

  32. Phoenix C.,
    Welcome. I'm so happy you found my blog. One of the great things about irises is when you get some to grow you can always divide them to make more.

    I haven't been brave enough to buy any from Lowe's or Walmart... but like you said... if they work it would be a less expensive way to go.

    Oh, Betsy,
    You are asking a Iris NON-expert a very valid question. I have no idea if they are the same. I searched "American Iris" at Dave's Plant Files and bearded Irises came up. So Sorry. Maybe someone else will be able to help us out????

    Thank you.
    Your cranberry hue with yellow throat sounds divine. You are going to be so excited in a few days when yours is blooming.

  33. That iris blue is so vividly beautiful, isn't it, Meems? Your Louisianas look very similar to the Siberian Iris I grow.
    I'm glad your mail order plants have done so well for you. We've had mixed luck with mail order trees and shrubs.
    I love seeing the colorful photos of your garden. They're so cheery on this wet morning (with snow showers mixed into the rain) in upstate NY.
    Have a lovely weekend!

  34. My Louisiana irises are just starting to bloom. They do very well here in the Deep South. Just be warned, they are addictive. I added four more to the garden last fall and am already planning which new ones I want.

    Always Growing

  35. They're really beautiful Meems! I can see why they'll be seen in the future in more places in your garden.

    I love Iris. I tried Siberian Iris here since they're supposed to fairly shade-tolerant, but in five years they haven't bloomed. I hate to move them since they take a while to establish, but since they're not doing anything where they are, I should give moving them to a sunnier spot a try.

    Hope you're enjoying a beautiful weekend! It's cool here, but bright and sunny - not a bad early April Saturday.

  36. Your Louisiana iris are GORGEOUS! I just planted some (native) Flag iris that look similar to yours but I'm not sure if they are the same thing??? They may be a little less frilly. Check out your local Home Depot - I just bought a Brazilian iris there that is also called "walking iris." They are the same blue color with yellow accents. The leaves are similar to African but wider and much taller. They are very pretty, too.

  37. Gorgeous Irises Meems. Your new header pictures are great too.


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