Gardening Magazine

The Blue and White Louisiana Iris Show

By Gardenamateur

I guess it's fitting that we have both blue and white Louisiana iris growing here in Marrickville. Blue and white are the traditional colours of Greece, and as we have had the same wonderful Greek neighbours on both sides for almost three decades now, the least we could do is have a Greek-themed flower festival every October, (even if Louisiana iris are very unlikely to be found growing anywhere in Greece). On with the show ...

The blue and white Louisiana iris showNot only are they in full bloom now, they're still popping out by the hour. At 7am I photographed this lovely white Louisiana iris with a gaggle of blues behind it. The other white bloom was still a furled bud at that hour.

The blue and white Louisiana iris show
By 9am, the furled person had gone "boing" (I think that's the technical term ...) and suddenly we had the full blue and white show. 

The blue and white Louisiana iris show
I truly do love my blue iris, but these white ones I love maybe just a little bit more. It's the fine green stripes on each of the petals that I can't take my eyes off. So many, so perfectly fine and such a mellow green.

The blue and white Louisiana iris show
One of the great features of these water-loving irises is that you can tell what's coming up next just by looking at the furled flower buds. This is the white one, photographed yesterday.
The blue and white Louisiana iris show
And a blue one. These buds keep on appearing, as the lifespan of each Louisiana iris flower is just a day or two. As each big bloom (10-12cm across) fades, another bud lower down on the stem readies itself for its brief 48 hours of glory. The whole show lasts less that a fortnight, but it's a seasonal highlight that is well worth the wait.
The blue and white Louisiana iris show
This year the neighbouring pot of New South Wales Christmas Bush is having its best-ever flowering season, and so the combination of one enormous blue showboat against a backdrop of hundreds of dainty dancers is well worth pausing to enjoy.
The blue and white Louisiana iris show
For overseas readers unfamiliar with the New South Wales Christmas Bush, this is a flowering plant with lots of relatively insignificant flowers at this time of year. Later on, closer to Christmas, the real show begins. This close up provides a preview of what lies in store. The outer bracts around the flowers turn all sorts of shades of reddy-pink, pinky-red — Pam says "think coral, and it's more red than pink" — there's quite a few variations. Right now it's a pleasantly white-flowered bush, but in a few weeks it will be something entirely different. 

The blue and white Louisiana iris show
In the meantime, it's the Louisiana irises' turn to be the star. The large pot pictured here is about 50cm across and high and it's full of water. Inside that pot, sitting on some bricks, is a wide shallow bowl about 40cm across and only 20cm deep, and it is full of the Louisiana iris rhizomes. The roots are inundated with water all year round, they love slow-release fertiliser, they breed like rabbits and provided they get the conditions they like they are very low maintenance.

I started off with just one plant about 10 years ago, and my how they have multiplied! The white flowers are the gift of two dear friends, John and Liz (I swapped some of my blue ones for one of John and Liz's whites).

If you want to find out any more about setting up your own pots, I've done Louisiana iris postings every October for the last 10 years, so do a search and you'll find plenty of growing tips.

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