Hop into Spring with Irises for Mother’s Day

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Today is both Iris Day and Mother’s day and I’ve been thinking about Irises a lot over the past couple of weeks. Our latest project is a 150’ long pond with a Grand Vulcan fountain nozzle at one end, a stream section and a couple of four-foot-deep, 25-foot-wide pockets occupying the last eighty feet at the other end. That’s where the koi will live. The water is drawn through 4” bottom drains under the koi end and pushed into a row of gravel-topped Eco-Blox submerged around the inside perimeter of the fountain end. Marginal aquatics planted in the 4” – 6” gravel help filter out wastes from the fish. This is in Louisiana, so naturally, I thought of Louisiana Iris for the marginals.

Iris fulva, the Copper Iris

While three of Louisiana’s five species (and three varieties, according to the USDA Forest Service) of native Iris come in shades of blue, Iris fulva, the Copper Iris comes in colors rarely found in other flowering plants – rust, brown, near-black, even copper. There are many amazing red hybrids – Red Velvet Elvis is crimson and mauve, you have to look it up, and it brings in hummingbirds! All of them are perfect choices for the gravel beds over the Eco-Blox. I’m hoping to see masses planted.

Japanese Iris ensata

Two mainstay marginals of more northern water gardens, Siberian Iris sibirica and Japanese Iris ensata,  once graced almost all of my ponds. I admit I still love them but, I’m trying to go native. Not all Iris are created equal. My Mom’s favorite were German Bearded Iris germanica, in royal purple and gold. Fitting for Mother’s Day. They thrived in her garden’s rich but dry garden soil. Submerged, they would rot in days.

Iris pseudacorus, Yellow Flag Iris

Another species, Iris pseudacorus, Yellow Flag Iris, once ate a pond I built. I made the mistake almost thirty years ago, before they were recognized as invasive. I dropped 5 one-gallon plants in an 85×40 pond. Five years later, half the surface area of the pond had vanished. The irises had created vast rafts that moved off the 18” deep shelf all the way around into the deeper water that dropped to five feet in the middle, the only place the iris hadn’t yet reached. It took another five years to get rid of them.

With all the different types and colors of irises, you’re sure to find one that Mom will love for Mother’s Day! Do your research and you may even find there’s a native iris to your region that will bloom happily in Mom’s garden!

Read more blogs from us on Irises and Mother’s Day here! An Iris-istible Flower To Add To Your Pond and 10 Flowers To Add To Your Mom’s Water Garden This Mother’s Day


Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

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