It’s not too early to plant Louisiana irises in your landscape. They grow well in south Louisiana and add an elegant touch to any yard.

You often see these for sale later on — when they’re in bloom. But if you find Louisiana iris this early in the season, this is a really great time to plant them, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. It’ll give them a chance to settle in and get established before they start blooming later on in March and April.

You can use them by water bodies, like a pond, or right in aquatic gardens, Gill says. But they also grow equally well in the average garden bed.

Louisiana iris is the name used worldwide for a unique group of native iris species and their hybrids. Their extraordinary beauty and reliability in the garden have made them increasingly popular. The Louisiana iris is our state’s official wildflower.

Though a number of iris species are native to Louisiana, only five — Iris brevicaulis, Iris fulva, Iris giganticaerulea, Iris hexagona and Iris nelsonii — are known as “The Louisianans.”

All five species occur together only in south Louisiana. They are closely related and will interbreed with each other but not with other species. Crossing these species has produced the modern hybrid varieties we grow today. Their large, attractive flowers feature a broad range of colors, including many shades of blue, purple, red, yellow, pink, gold, brown, lavender, burgundy and white.

If you have Louisiana irises growing in your yard this time of year, Gill offers a couple things to keep in mind.

“First off, they appreciate a little extra fertilizer this month in February, so use any general purpose fertilizer scattered over your iris beds,” he says.

You’re also going to find winter weeds commonly growing in iris beds. “This is a great time to get out there, weed those beds out and make sure you have a good 2 inches of mulch in them,” Gill says. “That’ll keep them looking neat and suppress the weed growth.”

By doing that now, you’ll make sure your Louisiana iris beds are beautiful and clean when they come into bloom later on. Be sure to not confuse Louisiana irises with the yellow and blue flag irises. Louisiana irises are much better performers.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.