ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Stunning Tall Bearded Irises - a Hobby Gardener's Guide to Growing Iris and Selling on Ebay

Updated on July 22, 2019
Dance Hall Dandy
Dance Hall Dandy
Man About Town
Man About Town
Miah Jane
Miah Jane
Achy Breaky Heart
Achy Breaky Heart
Forbidden Fruit
Forbidden Fruit
Calling Cadence
Calling Cadence
Colette Thurlett
Colette Thurlett
Harvest Maiden
Harvest Maiden
Hold My Hand
Hold My Hand
Delta Blues
Delta Blues
Oasis Sunset
Oasis Sunset
Indian Sunshine
Indian Sunshine
Simply Sensational
Simply Sensational
Taught by Masters
Taught by Masters
Venetian Glass
Venetian Glass

The tall graceful flower that dances in the wind!

© May 2012

Irises are my favorite flower of all time. I got hooked on them after attending the Mid-State Iris Association's annual sale over ten years ago. Each year I continued to go back to the sale, and since I bought lots of them each time, they eventually asked me if I wanted to join their group. Well, that was the beginning of my love affair with the tall bearded irises, and soon after the launching of Cathy's Hobby Garden, which specialized in tall bearded irises and fancy daylilies.

Planting Care & Instruction - Irises should not be planted too deeply! Here in Tennessee, our winters are mild and we can plant them with the tops of their rhizomes exposed. They should look like little boats floating in the dirt.

You'll want to plant your irises in a spot that gets plenty of sunshine and has good drainage. They do well in raised beds. I grew mine on a hillside. Full sun is best, though they can handle dappled shade. You'll get much better bloom if you plant them in a sunny location as opposed to a shady one.

I was told when I first started growing irises, that they shouldn't be planted in mulch because they might stay too wet which could cause root rot; however, I had some planted in a mulched beds and discovered that those were much bigger, better rhizomes than the ones that weren't mulched and had to compete with a bunch of weeds. I decided to begin mulching the rows. Since I had so many rows of irises, I didn't get through the job by the end of the growing season, so I was able to see for myself that the ones in the rows I'd mulched with hardwood were much larger rhizomes than the ones in the rows I didn't get to. This is because the irises in the mulch were getting more nutrients than the others were getting from the bare soil. Weeds were also taking nutrients from the soil and the mulched rows had less weeds than the ones without any mulch. My mother made the mistake of putting fresh mulch on her irises. You don't want fresh - it steals the nutrients from the soil instead of putting it back in. You need the well rotted (black) mulch. It will feed your plants as it continues to break down further into the soil.

Don't expect your irises to bloom the first spring after you plant them. Some may, but most of the time they just grow more foliage and multiply rhizomes their first year, and bloom the next. It isn't unusual though for some irises to take several years before they bloom. I almost threw out one bunch of irises I had that didn't bloom for four years. Good thing I didn't. The fifth year was the charm, and those irises were amazingly gorgeous when they finally did bloom! "Reoccurring Delight" didn't reoccur often, but when they do - Wow Fantastic!!!

Irises are very easy to grow. They don't require a lot of water and are relatively drought tolerant. However, if you want to have beautiful buds on your irises at bloom time, they need to take in a sufficient amount of water. They'll need about one inch of water a week. A rain gauge helps to measure how much rain is received. If not enough is received during the week, you can place a square or rectangular pan (such as for baking brownies or a cake) on the ground and turn on your sprinklers. When about an inch of water is setting inside the pan, it's time to turn the water off.

Fertilizing Your Irises - Use a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen since too much of it causes rhizomes to rot. Fertilizing only needs to be done one to two times a year. If you only do it once, do it in the fall after bloom season. I like to feed them in the spring too since it produces those fabulous, bigger and better blooms when you do.

Talk to different growers and you'll get lots of different recommendations, such as using alfalfa pellets or cafe's formula (to supply calcium and strengthen the stalks). The member who shared his method of using cafe's milk has some of the most beautiful blooms in the Mid-State Iris Association's annual shows. He also uses a Rainbow brand fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and high in phosphate. The cafe's milk actually lightens the color of the soil around his irises. I also think it makes the ground around his irises harder when the soil's dry. Helping him dig irises required us to get a hose and soak that rock hard dirt down good before our garden forks and spades would penetrate it.

I tried several fertilizers over the years and my recommendation as a result of these trials is to use either Triple Super Phosphate or Super Phosphate in the spring (mid to late March) and to use a time release fertilizer in the fall (late September to late October). Some growers say it's better to actually work the fertilizer into the soil, but I had too many irises to do that, so I just donned my goatskin gloves and scattered it around by hand salt-and-pepper style.

Weed & Pest Control & Prevention - Weeds are a pain! No matter what you do to control and prevent them, they find a way to beat you. Some growers use a grass-out type of spray that doesn't harm the irises, but I didn't like to use those since I had other plants growing close to the irises, such as the daylilies that I didn't want to take a chance on harming. Pulling for me was the safest way, though it definitely wasn't the easiest. When things got too badly out of hand, and they did often, I would till up another row, move stuff to the new row, and then till up the area that I just moved plants from, and so on and so forth. Pests were a problem that I had to use chemicals to control. Fungus is also a problem in Tennessee, so I used a regimen that would help with both insects and disease. The fungicide I settled with finally was Mancozeb and for insecticide I used Liquid Seven, putting them in the same spray can together and spraying once a week through the growing season as a preventative. This worked very well for both the irises and the daylilies.

Hybridizing is fun! Starting your own irises isn't hard. It does take quite a bit of time when you have a lot of beautiful cultivars and you want to try to cross all of them. I would spend hours every day during bloom season, when the weather permitted it, going from iris bud to iris bud to hand pollinate fresh newly opened buds. Some hybridizers don't even wait for the flowers to open themselves, but will carefully force buds open that are nearly ready in order to deposit pollen from the antlers they've collected from one iris on to another iris' stigmas (liplike structures on the underside of the style arms- each bud contains three unless a fluke of nature causes there to be less, or an extra in rare cases). Label your crosses with weatherproof labels. The female (receiving parent) is listed first, followed by x, and then the male (pollen parent) is listed second (i.e., Louisa's Song x Decadence). I found it helpful to stake stems with pods on them to keep the wind from breaking them off or blowing them over onto the ground.

If pollination was successful, the ovary that houses the seeds begins to swell. This should be evident within seven to ten days. Seeds are ready to collect in the fall when the pods turn brown and begin to open. Keep an eye on the pods since once they begin to open the seeds will soon spill out of them. Some hybridizers loosely tie a piece of panty hose around the pod while it is still green so the seeds won't spill out of it before they have a chance to collect them. Once the pods begin to crack open, you can go ahead and remove the seeds. Let the seeds dry out of the pods for a couple days inside your house so they don't have moisture on them when you package them up. Put them in dry envelopes so that they won't mold.

You can plant the seeds in nursery pots in the fall or early winter and leave the pots outside where rain and freezing temperatures will stratify the seeds naturally, or they can be started inside. If started inside you will need to soak the seeds for ten days, changing the water daily. After the ten days of soaking, put the seeds in the freezer for three hours, take them out and put them in the refrigerator (vegetable crisper drawer) inside a black plastic bag until you're ready to plant them. Don't leave too long in the refrigerator - plant within two or three weeks. It may take awhile for sprouts to appear - wait patiently. You can put the pots outside if you wish and cover the pots lightly with a little straw to insulate them a bit through the winter, or you can keep the pots inside until spring. Here in Tennessee, I prefer to have the pots outside sitting in a flower bed until I'm ready to plant them later on in the spring.

Iris seedlings take on characteristics from their parents, but they will not be identical replicas of either the pollen or the pod parent. Their genetics work much the same way as that of humans, where each child (unless an identical twin) has their own appearance with some of the features of their parents, but different. This is what makes hybridizing so fun - you don't know what you're going to get and are hoping for something spectacular and unique. Each seed that germinates has it's own identity.

Selling on eBay - List cheaply! I like to start every iris auction with a low opening bid of just ninety-nine cents to encourage bidding on each one. Although my auctions start out low, bids on most of them climb drastically, especially near auction closing time. Through trial and error, I learned the best time for iris auctions to end is after 7pm on a Saturday night. Having several different iris auctions going simultaneously is also a must. Try to have at least fifteen going at any given time. Offer combined shipping for multiple auctions won within a specified time frame. I normally allowed seven days for combining auction wins and requested payment within three days unless they were still bidding on my other auctions.

The prettier the flower the better. A gorgeous photo sells the flower, so make sure you take several pictures at various different angles and chose the loveliest one for your eBay gallery photo. For each listing, eBay permits you to post one photo free. One is all you'll need, so there's no need to pay extra to have more photos in your listing. Just choose the best one.

Cleaning, Packaging & Mailing Irises - The best way to send irises is bare root.

Cut leaves back to about 6-8 inches leaving foliage in a fan like shape. Remove soil from the rhizome and roots as much as possible before soaking in a sink or bucket with water and a little bleach. I don't measure the bleach but estimate that I add about 1/2 cup of bleach to 1-2 gallons of water. Don't leave the rhizomes in the water very long (ten minutes at most). I use a toothbrush to gently scrub the rhizome and clean foliage.

After cleaning the rhizomes, set them somewhere inside your air-conditioned home to dry. Don't put them out in the sun on a hot day. Sun-baking isn't good for them when they're out of the ground.

You can package the rhizomes in shredded newspaper or pine shavings, bare root, once they've air dried. Rhizomes can easily live out of soil for many weeks. I've found ones I lost in packaging material that I'd saved, months later, hidden in the pine shavings. I planted them up in pots inside since it was winter at the time. They broke dormancy and grew into healthy happy iris plants (fed liquid Miracle Grow like the rest of my house plants until I was able to plant them outside after the frost free date in spring).

Carefully select and label your irises - If you want to make money selling irises in the future, you want to carefully choose what irises you grow based on what you think will sell the best and be most in demand. For future selling it's crucial to know your irises registered name, so be sure to label your irises when you plant them. Use a permanent weatherproof labeling method. A cattle marker paint-type pen and PVC plastic piping works pretty well. Sharpies will eventually wear off - so you won't want to use them. Take your time selecting your irises and check several mail order nurseries before you place your orders since some will have better prices than others.

Some of my favorite iris growers are: Sutton's, Snowpeak, Rockytop (here in Tennessee), Mid-America, Schreiners, Country Delight, Bayview, Keppel, and Superstition.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      6 years ago from USA

      Your iris photographs are so beautiful! I love iris and used to grow many different varieties, but since moving have only a few. Your information on growing iris from seed is fascinating. Although I knew that iris produced seeds, I never new anyone who propagated them this way. It's very interesting! Great hub, voted up and shared!

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you Vinaya Ghimire. I love taking photos of the irises when they are in bloom. At one time I had about eight hundred different ones, but I have sold most of them as we have moved away from our farm. I do miss my garden spot and am hoping that one day I will be able to have another place where I can enjoy my hobby though at a much smaller scale. It was hard work and very time consuming to care for so many.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      7 years ago from Nepal

      I have grown flowers in my garden but not iris. This is quite and interesting read. I loved your pictures.

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you Peggy W and Clover Leaf Farm for your feedback, votes up, and especially for sharing this hub!

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 

      7 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Great hub. So much great info. I love planting iris, and each year we get more and more rhizomes to sell. I loved the Indian Sunshine one. Love purples. We sell heirloom "Wabash" Irises, and people love them. Voted up and shared.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Such beautiful photos of your bearded irises in this hub! I used to grow them from some that my grandmother shared with me in Wisconsin. Have grown the Louisianna irises in Houston. Different type, but still beautiful when in bloom. Voted up and beautiful. SHARING with others who may wish to learn about growing these beauties.

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you Angela. I hope you do give irises a try. They are so easy to grow and practically take care of themselves. Also thanks for sharing this everywhere. I really do appreciate this hugely - words can not express how much!

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 

      7 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Both beautiful and clever. Iris's grow so well were I live I should try this!

      Shared via hubbers alert on twitter, facebook, twitter, google+, stumble upon, and with hub followers.

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you to each of you for taking the time to leave a comment. I am glad that you liked my hub and enjoyed all the tall bearded iris photos.

    • snigdha.s profile image


      7 years ago from India,mumbai

      Lovely pictures. Loved the combination .You have a great collection of these lovely flowers. It was a treat.Have bookmarked this hub. Thanks for sharing

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      7 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      This is an awesome hub! Very well written with good information and beautiful pictures. I love iris', they are so easy to grow and so beautiful! I have several varieties, but I don't know their names as they were previously planted on our place before we bought the property. I truly enjoyed this hub. Voted up, interesting, useful, beautiful and sharing on my blog! Have a beautiful day! :)

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Cathleena, I love gardening and flowers yet have never grown Iris, Not sure quite how I have overlooked this beautiful flower!

      Your hub is so well written and interesting and I loved your photos, thank you, voted up and shared.

      Best wishes Lesley

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      My apologies to a friend who just left a comment here. I had to delete it because there was misspellings which can hurt my page rankings. Thank you though for stopping in and taking the time to leave a comment. That was a sweet thing to do. I bet your place is absolutely gorgeous right now with all those blooms!

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      7 years ago from Tennessee

      I came across another's iris hub today and decided to stop back in and take another peak at my own. It's May here, iris blooming season...The prettiest time of the year! :o)

    • 2uesday profile image


      8 years ago

      The iris is a beautiful flower as this page demonstrates so well. The photos of the iris's in flower are fantastic and a treat to see. You also give lots of useful advice about this plant.Lots of work must have gone into this page and is beautiful and well worth a visit.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Iris is definitely a lovely flower and your hub photos are

      beautiful. Nice hub. Voted up. :)



    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      8 years ago from UK

      The photos are beautiful, such a lovely array of colours.

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 

      8 years ago from Texas

      what a gorgeous colletcion! I find it fascinating that these are sold on E-Bay - Too Cool!

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Wonderful practical information for anyone who wants to grow and propagate iris. Makes me long for spring, and it's barely fall!

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      8 years ago from USA

      You have some beautiful flowers. I have several iris, but I've never kept track of their names since most were given to me. I collect daylilies, so I know your passion for these flowers. Good job and welcome to Hubpages.

    • Carlon Michelle profile image

      Carlon Michelle 

      8 years ago from USA

      Congrats on being freshly pressed, .23 cents and absolutely gorgeous photos of my mothers namesake! Smile!

    • Cathleena Beams profile imageAUTHOR

      Cathleena Beams 

      8 years ago from Tennessee

      Answer for Nell Rose - I was selling grown rhizomes and not seeds. :o)

    • carriethomson profile image


      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      hi welcome to hub pages!! and your fist hub is absolutely stunning!! These flowers have vivid and vibrant colour combos!! Nature has some give us the best and absolutely great designs!! Its one of the best sources of inspiration for the designers.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      8 years ago from England

      Hi, they are lovely flowers, when you say that you sell them on ebay, do you actually sell them fully grown, or by seed? cheers nell

    • bayareagreatthing profile image


      8 years ago from Bay Area California

      I a beautiful Iris display! It is one of my favorite bulb flowers. I have not had much success growing them however. I am going to try again next year! :D


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)