A true water-loving plant, Louisiana iris grows in up to 4 inches of water. ‘Black Gamecock’ is a variety that opens 4- to 6-inch blooms with deep purple petals marked with a brilliant gold stripe. It’s an award winning variety that’s ultra-easy to grow. Plants multiply rapidly in ideal growing conditions. Despite the name, Louisiana iris is hardy as far north as Maine. Look for varieties with flowers in many hues, including purple and blue shades, red, white, yellow and brown. Plants grow 24 to 36 inches tall by 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-10.
A classic bloomer for early summer bouquets, bearded iris offers a rainbow of flower hues, from purple-black, to sunny yellow, to old-fashioned lavender. Bearded iris are undemanding in the garden. Tuck them into a spot with full sun to part shade, and call it done. Look for dwarf, knee-high or tall varieties. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 38 inches tall by 12 to 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-10. Good vase companions for bearded iris: baptisia, peony, lady’s mantle, gas plant and lavender.
Vibrant purple flowers 5 inches across open on Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) in early summer. Siberian iris is carefree, growing in full sun to part shade. Leaves add a medium texture to the garden and look good all through the growing season. Siberian iris opens flowers in many shades, including blue, purple, gold, burgundy, pink and white. This iris needs moist soil to thrive, especially when planted in full sun. It’s known as the go-to iris for Southern gardens. Plants grow 34 inches tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
A calla lily is another popular plant that grows from a rhizome. Other examples of rhizomes: canna, bearded iris, ginger, bamboo, lily of the valley. When growing rhizomes that aren’t hardy in your zone, dig and store them over winter. Wait for frost to kill (or at least damage) leaves. Dig up rhizomes and cut off leaves. Let a 1- to 2-inch stem stub remain. Cure the rhizomes in a warm, dry place for several days—until cut surfaces are dry.
A garden that includes heirloom plants is a garden of memory as well as a place to preserve a slice of history. This white yarrow (Achillea), and the Iris and purple coneflower (Echinaceae) in the background, have been grown and shared for many centuries for their beauty and herbal uses, but they have survived because they are durable in a wide range of conditions and easy to propagate and share – all important characteristics for a plant to become an heirloom.
If purple is your jam, you need to tuck clustered bellflower into your garden. The bright purple blossoms make a perfect addition to any late spring or early summer bouquet. Remove spent blooms to help extend the flower show. Blossoms beckon butterflies and other pollinators. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 15 to 16 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-8. Good vase companions for clustered bellflower: bearded iris, baptisia, gas plant, lady’s mantle and coralbells.
Go native with false indigo, a prairie plant that’s low maintenance and gorgeous. Pretty blue-purple flower spikes appear in late spring and make a great addition to a garden-fresh bouquet. Leaves have a blue-green tone that looks stunning in a vase—harvest stems all season long. Dried seedpods make a nice addition to fall arrangements. This is a tap-rooted perennial, which means it’s not easy to move once established. Plant it where you know it can stay put. False indigo offers different flower colors, including blends of blue, yellow, brown and white. The variety shown is ‘Blueberry Sundae.’ False indigo are deer-resistant plants that grow 4 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Good vase companions for false indigo: bearded iris, peony, clustered bellflower, purple coneflower and echibeckia.
Hosta offers a wonderful array of leaf colors and sizes that provide beautiful greenery for a bouquet. Or, take a page from modern design and showcase a vase of hosta leaves—in one hue or a mixed variety. Hosta leaves hold up well in a vase, outlasting many garden flowers. This variety, ‘Loyalist,’ offers leaves with white centers and green edges. Many hostas also unfurl vase-worthy flower spikes at some point in the summer. Hosta plants can be miniature or giant, growing anywhere from 6 inches to 60 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Good vase companions for hosta: purple coneflower, gas plant, rose, bearded iris and peony.