Louisiana irises constitute a unique group in the iris family.  This website is about the irises and about the organization that since 1941 has been devoted to their appreciation and promotion: the Society for Louisiana Irises, or SLI.  The top menu navigates topics primarily related to the plants themselves, their natural history, growing culture, and development.  The menu on the right deals more directly with SLI, although with a bit ofOur Friend Dick 974.crop.adj'Our Friend Dick' (Ron Killingsworth), winner of the 2017 Mary Swords Debaillion Medalinevitable overlap. 

Among all the iris, Louisiana's have exceptional variety in color and in form.  They exhibit an incredibly broad Mary Jo'Mary Jo', by Joe Musacchiarange of color and are considered very significant in providing the color red to the iris spectrum.  An equally wide variety of forms, when combined with the color range, make for truly great horticultural opportunities. 

Louisiana irises belong to the subsection Apogon (without beard or beardless), series Hexagonae of the genus Iris. They are derived from five species, most of which are indigenous to a limited area of south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast marsh areas between Texas and Florida.Two species, Iris brevicaulis and I. fulva, extend the range northward up the Mississippi Valley. Iris hexagona inhabits the southern Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, but by far, the greatest concentration is in the state of Louisiana, hence the name Louisiana Irises.

When the Society for Louisiana Irises was organized in 1941 by a small group of dedicated growers and collectors, the irises were only a few years removed from their modern "discovery" and introduction to horticulture.  The period from 1925 through the mid-30s was marked by a virtual frenzy of collecting and naming of new colors and forms, then thought to be actual species, in the swamps and wetlands of Louisiana.  

DejaVoodoo300'Deja Voodoo', by Patrick O'Connor, winner of the Mary Swords DeBaillon Medal for 2018.It was recognized even at the time that the wetland habitat of the irises was threatened.  It was partly with this concern that the founders of SLI came together with the intention of preserving and promoting interest in this captivating native plant. In the decades that followed, plant breeders took the original species and collected forms and developed the beautiful hybrid Louisiana irises of today. The Society for Louisiana Irises continues to promote the use of Louisiana irises both in the garden and the landscape and the preservation of the native species in their natural habitat.  'Rooster', by Ron Betzer, winner of the Mary Swords DeBaillon Medal in 2021.

Gardeners are increasingly discovering that Louisiana irises are highly adaptable.  They do not have to be grown in a wetland environment (although they do not like to dry out) and can be mixed with many other plants in garden beds that get at least a half day of sun.  And, significantly, hybrid Louisiana irises are hardy throughout virtually all of the country.  The genes from the species growing far up the Mississippi Valley into Illinois, and even Ontario, have provided a tolerance for cold weather.  

This site and others, and the Society for Louisiana Irises, can provide the information any gardener will need!RoosterBetzer picture250w
'Rooster', by Ron Betzer, winner of the Mary Swords DeBaillon Medal in 2021.