Monday, May 25, 2020

Louisiana Irises in NW Louisiana by Ron Killingsworth

by Ron Killingsworth

'Bayou Tiger'
I just threw this picture in there to get your attention!  If you are a LSU fan, you really want this iris in your garden.


Usually when I take pictures during the “bloom season” in NW Louisiana, I take pictures of individual blossoms in each of our many iris beds.  The main reason is to positively identify the cultivar in that bed, in other words, to make sure the bloom matches the name.  I wound up taking more than 300 pictures this bloom season and usually take as many, or more, each season.  Once I finish verifying the beds with the pictures, I do not know what to do with the pictures.  Thus, I have a hard disc drive full of pictures taken from the bloom season of 2003 to 2020.  I doubt my children will be interested in these pictures, yet I hesitate to just toss them out.  I guess I am a “hoarder” of pictures.  Anyone who looks in my outside storage shed would quickly know that pictures are not the only thing I tend to hoard. I do not have a garage or it would be full of junk also.

This clump of ‘Coushatta’ (Farron Campbell 1998) (above) is always one of my favorites. Registered as “lavender” it really is a nice pastel color.  There is a town of Coushatta, LA, and I do not know if Farron named this iris for that town in central LA or for the Coushatta Tribe (Koasati). The Koasati tribe is now located in Allen and Jefferson Davis Parishes, LA. See for more information about this native American Tribe. My parents once lived near the town of Coushatta.

‘Flareout’ (Marvin Granger 1988) is one of Marvin’s cartwheel style irises and this shows a nice clump of ‘Flareout’.  There is, I am told, a difference between a “cartwheel style” and a “double” but the explanation never stuck in my mind for some reason.

'Kristi G'
This clump of ‘Kristi G’ (Joe Mertzweiller 1985) is always a beauty to behold. ‘Kristi G’ grows like a weed for me and I have it scattered all over the property.

'Marie Caillet'
This large clump of ‘Marie Caillet’ (Sidney Conger 1963) is in a raised bed that is very old.  It once held a lot of Mary Swords Debaillion Medal winners, but has fallen into neglect recently. Marie Caillet was a charter member of the Society for Louisiana Irises and held many positions in the society over the years.

Iris View

This is a view of dug beds close to the crawfish pond (where we raise 'mudbugs') with Historic Caddo Lake and bald cypress trees in the far background.

View of massive planting of Louisiana irises
This is a nice view taken beside the “Catfish Pond” where Stanley raises and feeds some very large catfish.  You can see Caddo Lake and the bald cypress trees in the background. This is a massive planting of mostly “Professor” fill in the blank. (Joe Mertzweiller converted many LA irises from diploid to tetraploid and named the results for his professor friends.  So, 10 tetraploid LA irises have names starting with “Professor”.)

Another view of Louisiana irises in bloom
 This is another view of lots of Louisiana irises, in dug beds, on the back side of the crawfish pond.  A mixture of nice colors.

Rejected seedlings

Although this picture is not of a “clump”, over the years I have raised many seedlings that were not worthy of registration.  I always plant them around the edge of this small pond (crawfish pond) (“tank” for you "Texicans" and others in the “west”) and this gives a nice view of those rejected irises.  Each year I find at least two or three of them that makes me wonder why I “rejected” them! They are planted on the bank of this pond and the water level is controlled by a drain and by pumping water from Caddo Lake into the pond during the summer.

To learn more about growing Louisiana irises, please visit the website for the Society for Louisiana Irises.

To join the Society for Louisiana irises, email me at

For information on more species of irises, visit the American Iris Society.