Louisiana Iris
By Rich Sacher
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Here in New Orleans, native and hybrid iris bloom between March 15 and April 15, creating a riot of spring color. All the current hybrid Louisiana Iris have resulted from hybridizing the five native species which are found in Louisiana...although some of these five are also found in other southeastern states.

Louisiana Iris are in the hexagonae series and include: I. hexagona, I. brevicaulis, I. fulva, I. nelsoni, and I. giganticearulea. I. hexagona is considered the type species. The pinks and reds among present day hybrids come from I. fulva and I. nelsoni, which are a rusty color, and also have some yellow sports. I. giganticaerulea can grow 5-6 feet tall in coastal marshes, in colors from white through deep blue. Hybridizing of the native Louisiana iris began in the late 20's, even before all of the native species had been discovered!

In the swampy surrounds of New Orleans, iris grew in such profusion and variety of colors, that they were impossible for people to ignore...and they were the subject of artists' studies, collectors' delights, and even featured on pottery made at Newcomb College. In the early 1900's, the original subjects for these sketches grew wild in great abundance, about two blocks from the present American Aquatic Gardens ...as well as in the swampy ditches along Chef Menteur Highway, and throughout Bayou Sauvage. (Bayou Sauvage Swamp is now the largest wildlife refuge within any city limits in the entire USA!)

Louisiana iris now come in all sizes, shapes and varieties, and are grown successfully on all continents except Antarctica! There are probably more than 1,000 named hybrids in cultivation around the world. The iris flower shape gives rise to the fleur de lis, which is a symbol of Louisiana, New Orleans, and the New Orleans Saints football team!


Articles & Images by Rich Sacher

 Quick Guide To Growing
Tropical Waterlilies

Hybridizing Tropical Water Lilies

 Overwintering Tropical Waterlilies

Turtles, Toads
& Other Trivial Traumas

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 Rich's Amazon Adventure

Building Liner Ponds

 Garden Ornament Ideas
2002 Displays at AAG

 Louisiana Iris

 Profile - Rich Sacher

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