Bearded Iris - Photos and Tips For Growing Beautiful Irises

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Periwinkle colored Iris flower in Spring in my garden.Another pretty iris in the garden.
Periwinkle colored Iris flower in Spring in my garden.
Periwinkle colored Iris flower in Spring in my garden. | Source
Another pretty iris in the garden.
Another pretty iris in the garden. | Source

Growing Your Own Bearded Irises

While there are many different kinds of irises out there, one of the most popular are the tall bearded irises. They are my own favorite type of iris flower as well. Here I share some of my best tips for growing these beautiful flowers. I learned to grow them myself after being given some iris rhizomes from my Great Aunt who grew a beautiful garden full of them.

These types of irises are great for general garden use, and can grown by beginners even. They are so gorgeous it will look like even a beginner has a green thumb! Hybridists have had a great deal of success in growing many different varieties. It is to the point there is almost something for everyone when it comes to these beauties.

If you look in catalogues, there are literally hundreds of varieties. There are members of garden clubs and likely even some neighbors that share after dividing their irises. When they are happy, they seem to multiply like crazy.

Peach or Orange Colored Bearded Iris

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An all lavender bearded iris.  I love the pure looking color.  A pretty peach orange bearded iris flower in the garden.
An all lavender bearded iris.  I love the pure looking color.
An all lavender bearded iris. I love the pure looking color. | Source
A pretty peach orange bearded iris flower in the garden.
A pretty peach orange bearded iris flower in the garden. | Source

The Best Site for Irises.

Irises seem to be hardy even in the colder climates. The rhizome and its abilities to store its food, and protect it, helps to make them tough plants. I have seen this to be the case when they were thrown into a planter that wasn't meant to be a permanent place. Winter came and went and to our surprise, they were growing as well as ever, healthy as could be.

Consider that bearded irises don't like wet feet. If they sit in water or wet soil for long, they don't like that. They need to have plenty of water, but that drains off. People have built planters to accommodate this need. If you plant them five inches above the surrounding soil, that is perfect.

They loved to be planted anywhere from July to early fall. They will bloom the following spring, or you should. They love to have lots of sunshine to create the beautiful flowers. If you get very hot summers though, some shade is alright too. They do need their water in such cases.

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Yellow with white bearded iris flower in Spring.This is a rich colored purple bearded iris with a touch of unique coloring.  I just love the different varieties.
Yellow with white bearded iris flower in Spring.
Yellow with white bearded iris flower in Spring. | Source
This is a rich colored purple bearded iris with a touch of unique coloring.  I just love the different varieties.
This is a rich colored purple bearded iris with a touch of unique coloring. I just love the different varieties. | Source

Tips For Planting Bearded Irises - The Best Methods

You want to plant the iris rhizomes in singles, and that is how they usually come. If you were to get a big clump though or something, you will want to gently separate these out. One of the unique things about these iris rhizomes is how you plant them. They aren't almost like any other flower I have planted. My Aunt taught me that you want them almost on top of the soil! I didn't believe her, but then looked at her garden and saw the rhizomes sticking out in some places.

When you dig the hole, you want to still have a little "hill" in the hole. Set the rhizome on top of the little hill and let its roots dangle down the side. You are really only burying the roots around the rhizome, and filling in that area around the rhizome. You want its roots to have free reign to grow in the surrounding soil. If you just barely plant it on flat soil, the roots will have to work their way down, which they will probably eventually do. It is just more ideal the first way I described, and worth the extra minute when planting if you can do it that way.

Fill in the area where the roots are with soil, and barely cover the top of the iris rhizome. It might seem strange the first time, but it really works.

Some plant several of one kind together, which looks nice in the garden. You will want to space them about 8 inches apart which gives them room to grow and multiply.

Black and Brown Bearded Iris flowers

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Brown or rust colored bearded Iris flower.Black flowers?  Yes, there are black flowers evidently!  Black Bearded Iris Flower.
Brown or rust colored bearded Iris flower.
Brown or rust colored bearded Iris flower. | Source
Black flowers?  Yes, there are black flowers evidently!  Black Bearded Iris Flower.
Black flowers? Yes, there are black flowers evidently! Black Bearded Iris Flower. | Source

Yellow and Purple Bearded Iris Bloom

Such an interesting color combination, bright yellow interior with purple on the outer parts of the petals.
Such an interesting color combination, bright yellow interior with purple on the outer parts of the petals. | Source

Dividing Bearded Irises After Crowding Begins

Due to the nature of how irises grow, they will eventually get over crowded with their multiple rhizomes or root systems. The best time to divide and transplant your iris rhizomes is a full two weeks after they are completely done flowering. You basically are going to dig out the old clump, and pry it apart.

At this point, you may observe some diseased or shriveled parts, and those are best discarded. The rhizomes that look plump and healthy, with the most growth on them are the ones you want to transplant or share with others.

The side of the rhizome where the latest blooming stalk just bloomed, won't bloom again the next year. It is the portion where you see new little shoots coming in that will bloom the next go around. Keep this mind when you are placing them in their new spaces. If you were to do a circular planting, face these green portions outward, the ones with the new shoots.

Some trim the leaves down to about seven inches or so. Some use fertilizer at the point of dividing and transplanting. The rhizomes can be drawing on the nutrients until the next bloom time.

Different shades of purples and lavenders in bearded Iris flowers

This one seems to be a blue and purple bearded iris flower.  I truly love this one!
This one seems to be a blue and purple bearded iris flower. I truly love this one! | Source
White and lavender colored bearded iris flower.
White and lavender colored bearded iris flower. | Source

Panting Bearded Iris - Poll

Have you ever planted your own bearded irises?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes, and I hope to plant more.
  • No, but I hope to plant some in the future.
  • No, but I have some in my yard that need attention or dividing and transplanting.
  • Some other answer.
See results without voting

Different Bearded Iris Flowers

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A bearded Iris growing in my own garden.  The color is a beautiful purple blue, almost periwinkle color.  The rhizomes were given to me by my Great Aunt who I love dearly.White, with yellow and some pink tint, bearded iris growing in a iris garden.
A bearded Iris growing in my own garden.  The color is a beautiful purple blue, almost periwinkle color.  The rhizomes were given to me by my Great Aunt who I love dearly.
A bearded Iris growing in my own garden. The color is a beautiful purple blue, almost periwinkle color. The rhizomes were given to me by my Great Aunt who I love dearly. | Source
White, with yellow and some pink tint, bearded iris growing in a iris garden.
White, with yellow and some pink tint, bearded iris growing in a iris garden. | Source

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Comments 11 comments

dearabbysmom profile image

dearabbysmom 2 years ago from Indiana

I love seeing all these! I had an uncle who actually 'bred' iris, and I used to have a wonderful collection of unique bearded iris from the bulbs he gave us. We moved from that house and many times I've wished I had dug those bulbs up. Such a stunning flower, and so much variety!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 2 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Abbysmom, So glad you liked seeing these irises! I bet your family had some very beautiful ones, since your uncle bred them. How interesting, and I would love to know how to do that one day. When we move, it is so hard to remember stuff like that. I agree, they are stunning flower. Maybe one of the most exotic looking and "frilly" looking ones, but that also happen to be a good size flower. Thanks for your comment and visit here!


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

I love these flowers! I used to grow them in my previous bird garden and the house which I rent now has a few in front at the walkway. Some former people must have planted them. Once again you did a great job on the article and described them well, I also love your photos. Voted up.

Kevin


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

Years ago my neighbor had magnificent bearded iris's blooming in her garden. Knowing nothing about them I asked for one if she ever thinned them. Months later she stopped by with some rhizomes. In California they grow year round like weeds. Unless divided they will take out retaining walls and usurp the entire bed. They are beautiful, now I want one with bright color.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 2 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Hello Examiner, I am so glad you love irises like I do, and that you like my photos. That makes my day! I hadn't seen this comment before now, so there is a delay in my responding here. I hope to do some more dividing of my irises and plant them in new places or share some with others. They will keep coming again and again like how you share is happening with your walkway. I love that about them. Thanks for your comment!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 2 years ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Hello Traveler, that is so nice of your neighbor to share some rhizomes with you! What color are the ones you have? Some of mine come from California where my Great Aunt gave some to me. They are the beautiful periwinkle blue/purple ones. Hers have grown like weeds like you mentioned, but she is really good about dividing them. When she didn't, and they became overcrowded is when they didn't bloom as well. It is amazing they are such strong and sturdy plants.

The ones I have are starting to show their green leaves now, after a long winter. I am looking forward to them blooming. Thanks so much for your comment.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 22 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

How am I just now finding you. Been here three years and many of my hubs are illustrated with photos of my own iris garden. Wish we lived close enough to swap rhizomes!

I just went through crowding and a disappointing bloom year before last. So that summer I divided and dug up, but I can't bear to toss the excess, so I've started a garden on the empty lot on the other side of our cul-de-sac. I'll find out if it gets enough sun this spring when they should offer the first bloom. Congrats on hitting 1M views!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 22 months ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Hello Kathleen, I hear that, as I love to find another iris lover! I will have to come see of your irises very soon! I agree, it would be awesome to swap some rhizomes for sure. They are simply gorgeous flowers, works of art in nature I think!

As easy as irises can be, the crowding thing can be such an issue when they multiply. My great aunt is an avid iris lover, and her gardens amaze me, truly! One year, she had such a disappointing year, that you definitely notice the difference from before. I would have probably done something similar, and how great that there is an empty lot nearby to let them grow! I bet they will do great assuming they have some sunlight and not too deep, etc. How great to give them a chance to keep giving off more beauty! I love it that you did that!:) I am thinking of a spot now myself, where I might be able to pass along the beauty. Thank you for your kind words on the views also, I am truly so excited about it. Thanks for commenting!


poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 18 months ago

Love the flower photos.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 18 months ago from The Midwest, USA Author

I'm so glad you loved the flower photos, and thank you for your comment.


Margaret Peace 2 months ago

Since we both live in the Atlanta area and you seem to be having good luck with the bearded iris, do you put dirt over the rhizome. I have just been burring only the lower 1/4 of the rhizome. Should I actually cover the top with a little of soil since it is so hot here in Atlanta?

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