The name Louisiana iris was first used in reference to the name given to a painting by John James Audubon of the Paula Warbler. The painting shows the bird sitting on I. fulva.
Louisiana iris is the name used to describe a group of irises belonging to the series I. hexagonae. Four species of this group are found growing natively in Louisiana and early settlers brought them into their gardens. They are I. fulva, I. nelsonii, I. brevicaulis, I. hezaganoa and I. giganticaerulea. I. hexagonae is found along the eastern coast of the United States.
Early settlers in Louisiana brought the natives into their gardens. In south Louisiana the native iris thrived where bearded iris failed to flourish. The damp and humid conditions of the gulf coast areas do not suit bearded irises that like to dry out after bloom and want dry feet. Many variations in color, size and form were found by adventuresome gardeners. These gardeners began hybridizing and produced more and more variations.
The discovery of I. nelsonii gave hybridizers the gene pool that would produce fuller flowers and wider foliage characteristic of the modern hybrids. Louisianas are tolerant of very wet conditions and will thrive in areas that have standing water as well as in regular garden beds. Louisianas can be grown successfully in most areas of the world with attention paid to mulch and water.