Louisiana Iris: A Southern Floral Icon
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Fleur-de-lis garden care
If aesthetics and patriotism woo you to garden with Louisiana’s technicolor fleur-de-lis, here are some suggestions:
- Plants must be watered methodically, particularly during summer and early fall when the plants are relatively inactive.
- Rhizomes must be heavily mulched all year to avoid scorching by summer sun and freezing during winter.
- Plant in venues that include at least a half-day of sunlight and acidic soils (pH 6.5 or lower).
- In autumn, fertilize heavily with manures, compost and/or acidic commercial preparations.
Louisiana irises are a natural for water gardens, either in a container or in-ground pool. Follow these simple tips:
- Keep water level no greater than 4 to 8 inches above the rhizomes during the summer.
- Drop the water to ground level each fall since rhizomes will rot if submerged for the full year.
Since the irises have a limited blooming period, enhance the water garden with a combination of summer and fall blooming aquatics (waterlilies are perfect). The verdant, upright foliage of the irises then acts as backdrop in a tableau that enables the plants to be enjoyed long past their spring dazzle.
Gary Noel Ross, Ph.D., is a professional butterfly ecologist who often tracks the swamps and marshes of his native Louisiana to research and photograph unusual aspects of nature.
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