Growing Louisiana Irises

Techniques and methods of a successful pond planting 
In the September SLI Newsletter; Walter Moores stated that the most important point to remember in the culture of any plant is to simulate as closely as possible the native habitat of the species. He certainly hit the nail on the head with that statement. 
Growing Louisiana irises the natural way involves much less maintenance work, results in superior plant performance, and, of course, adds a  beautiful new dimension to the garden. 

These are terms that refer to the number of chromosomes that a plant cells contain. 
Most plants in general are diploid, meaning they have two complete sets of chromosomes. Diploid daylilies (or Dips) have 22 chromosomes, 1 set of eleven from the pod parent and one set of 11 from the pollen parent.
Tetraploid daylilies (Tets) contain 44 chromosomes, essentially giving them twice the amount of genetic material as diploids. This gives the hybridizer more opportunity for 'breaks' or more dramatic advances than can be made with diploids. 
Triploids are not seen often in daylilies. They have a triple set of chromosomes and are generally infertile. 
Louisiana iris diploids have 42 or 44 chromosomes.  That means they get 21 or 22 from each parent.  Humans have 48 chromosomes and get one set of 24 from each parent.
Triploids would have 63 to 66 chromosomes and tetraploids would have 81 or 88 chromosomes and would get 40 to 44 from each parent.
Louisiana irises need not be grown in water or under bog conditions, however, don't overlook this important use of the native iris. Water gardening has become very popular in the last decade and Louisiana Iris are a natural in this setting; however, for decades they have been grown under ordinary garden culture with excellent results. The native iris through the work of backyard hybridizers and a few nurserymen, have transformed this simple wild flower into Belles of a Mardi Gras Ball. The culture is very easy, provided a few simple rules are followed. The conditions described are for Louisiana.

Louisiana irises growing in a bed lined with plastic

The author is a long time member of the Society for Louisiana and has served/is serving as an officer and/or board member many times through the years.  He is very active in local garden clubs, the American Iris Society (AIS) and the local region of AIS. Robert is a commercial fish farmer by profession and lives near Carlisle, AR.

In this article Robert shares his experiences gained from constructing and growing Louisiana irises in plastic lined beds, both raised and dug.  He offers many recommendations including ways to amend the soil, bed construction, material to be used an lessons learned.  Robert finds these type of beds to be easy to water and very good at reducing/conserving water.  This method also allows beds to be made close to trees and large shrubs.

Picture of Louisiana Irises growing in a container

One of the remarkable attributes of the Louisiana iris is its ability to grow in regular garden soil-or in a swamp. It is one iris that will absolutely thrive in containers. Watering is more easily controlled, and thus, growing in pots can be a major consideration in a water- starved area.

Everyone who has ever potted up a rhizome and then let it set for a year, or two, or even three, knows that Louisiana irises have a rugged will to live, even to prosper. This iris is clearly suited to pot culture.

A winter cover of snow at Louisiana Iris Gardens, Tully, New York

by M. J. Urist

In the cold, short days of midwinter, the irises and I are enjoying the closest thing to real dormancy we get all year. While I lounge next to the woodstove sipping tea, reflecting on the past growing season and plotting next year’s gardening endeavors, the irises rest beneath a thick blanket of snow. The thirty and forty degree temperatures of late autumn and early winter, mild for our climate, would have been the harshest of conditions for their southern brethren. Even so, the robust fans of leaves, dutifully pared back to nubs in late summer, had managed to push out a foot or more of new growth before the snow fell. Often the first question I am asked is, “You can grow those up here?” Then will follow, “Aren’t they cold tender?” “You have to grow them in water, right?”