‘Happy Together’

Feature Release 2012-2014

Beautiful Louisiana Irises for your Garden or Pond


Native American Wildflowers

Louisiana irises comprise a group of beardless irises native to Louisiana and the southeastern United States, occurring as far west as  East Texas and as far north as Arkansas and Missouri. They occur nowhere else in the world. In contrast to most other irises, Louisiana irises, having originated in the swamps and marshes, thrive under moist, soggy conditions. These irises, representing five main species, have existed in the wild for an undetermined period, probably many thousands of years.

Natural hybridization between these species has been more extensive than for any other type of iris. Controlled hybridizing that began about 1940 has produced a spectacular group of modern garden irises.

Distinguishing features

The colour range of the Louisiana irises is the broadest and most vibrant of any iris group and includes unlimited patterns and blends as well as solid colours. Flower forms vary from pendant to flat to flaring, and flowers may be single or semi-double. Sizes vary from about three inches (8cm) to over seven inches (18cm) across. Edges may be smooth, lacy or ruffled. Stalks are one (30cm to five feet (150cm) tall.


Louisiana irises are adaptable to a wide range of climates and soils, and they can be grown with moderate to excellent results in almost any part of New Zealand and most other countries. Limits of adaptability have not been determined. The best suggestion for almost any location is “try them.” You will probably be amazed by the results! They can be grown with annuals and other perennials in regular beds, in bogs or in water up to a foot deep. They can also be grown in containers in shallow water.

Cultural requirements

Culture is relatively easy, but a few items are critical and will pay great dividends in performance. In their natural habitat they grow under constantly moist conditions, often in shallow water. Duplicating such conditions in a garden by planting in low, easily flooded beds or around a pond is highly recommended. They will survive dry conditions in Summer, as that is their downtime, and they will come into growth again with Autumn rains and grow on through the Winter. They perform well in an ordinary bed if sufficient water is provided during the year. Other important requirements include (1) at least at least a half day of sun,(2) acid soil of pH 6.5 or less (acidification agents may be necessary), (3) high fertility with manures and compost or generous applications of acidic fertilizer, definitely no lime. Mulching is recommended throughout the year, but especially during hot, sunny weather.

Rhizomes are best transplanted either right after bloom or in late summer and early autumn, Place the top of the rhizome about one inch(3cm) below soil level and do not allow it to dry out. Louisiana irises bloom at the same time as bearded irises or slightly later in most climates.


Louisiana irises are specialty plants, and the best and latest stock is available from specialty growers.




Irises have their own descriptive terminology and the explanations of terms listed below are provided here to assist those of you who are new to irises, so that you can better understand the descriptions noted below a little better.

Standard—  is really a bearded iris term, but one that is used in a general manner here to describe the three petals of a Louisiana iris which are on top of the lower petals of an open bloom. In most cases, 'standards' are smaller than the lower petals, which are called 'falls'.

Falls— is also a bearded iris term, but one that is used here in a general  manner to describe the three petals of a Louisiana iris which are usually larger in size and generally seen under the 'standards' on an open bloom.  Falls can sometimes open outwards and then downwards - like a bearded iris.

E— blooms early in the bloom season.

M— blooms in the middle of the season and

L— blooms later in the season.

Re— can re-bloom in autumn and winter as well as in the spring. The actual timing of your own bloom season will vary on where your garden is located.

Self—  a flower with all of its petals being the same colour.

Bitone— a flower with three petals being one tone and three petals being another tone of the same basic colour.

Bicolor— a flower with three petals being one specific colour and three petals being another specific colour.

Rim— the outer edge of the petal (also known as a 'halo' in the USA and an 'edge' in other countries).

Reverse— the colour found on the underside of petals and the only colour that can be seen on an unopened flower.

Style Arms— the three bracts which cover the pollen sacs. They are a very distinctive attribute on Louisiana irises (and most other beardless irises) as they are very clearly seen on an open flower.  Style Arms can bear a different colour to the petals, have a different colour on the centre midrib, the tips, the outer edges of the arms or even at the base. They are sometimes just referred to as 'styles'.

Signals— these come in a variety of shapes and sizes on Louisiana irises and are generally described as being a 'line, steeple, blotch or raised'. Some have an outline or 'eyeliner' of a contrasting colour and others have a multiple combination of different types. Originally signals were only found on the 'falls' and indicated to the bees where the pollen sacs could be found on an open flower. These days many  modern hybrids have signals on all petals. If the signals are identical on all petals, then they are referred to as a 'star signal pattern'.

Spray, Blush— different types of effects on the petals. Their names really do describe the various effects well.

Water Sprite— this is a term created by heather and Bernard Pryor of IRIS HAVEN to describe the range of shorter-growing varieties which they have been specifically developing for the last decade or so. These are well suited to smaller gardens or placed in the front of regular-height varieties. They grow in exactly the same way and generally have the same vigour and overall good garden attributes as the regular-height varieties. However, the Water Sprite varieties generally grow no higher than 90 cm. Flowers are usually more petite as well so that the overall effect of a flowering stalk is still in proportion to the flower size etc. They have tried to use purely whimsical names for the Water Sprite varieties because real water sprites are impish folk who generally inhabit small pools.


After ten years Rivendell Iris Garden is now closed.

I would like to thank all the customers who have supported the nursery over the years and let you know that the irises will be available again elsewhere in due course and this will be advised. May your irises thrive.