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How to Grow Irises Like a Pro

Updated on October 14, 2014
Red Ember Iris (available via
Red Ember Iris (available via

Irises are a timeless perennial flower that most of us probably picked as kids from our Grandmother’s garden. While most people are familiar with purple irises, they do come in a large variety of colors. Once you start growing them they can quickly fill in large garden bed areas. Irises also make beautiful cut flower arrangements.

You can start your own iris garden very easily. With a little care and work, you will soon be enjoying the beautiful, colorful, aromatic blooms of irises. Have fun and trade your friends and neighbors to get new colors and bloom sizes. Pretty soon you will be addicted to irises!


  • Garden space
  • Iris bulbs
  • Peat
  • Sand
  • Gardening tools
  • Gardening gloves if you'd like


1. You will need to choose your iris bed location carefully. Irises like full sun and well-drained soil to really thrive and produce plenty of blooms. If you live in a very warm climate, you can get away with planting them in partial shade.

2. Prepare your soil by digging down 18 inches. Next, add peat and sand to ensure good drainage of the soil. This is important to avoid root rot which will kill your irises. If your soil is clay, you may want to consider planting your irises in raised beds.

3. Divide the rhizomes into sections that contain 2 or 3 leaves and several roots. Dig shallow holes to plant the rhizomes in. Space your holes about 18 inches apart. Mound the soil in the hole and place the rhizome on the mound with the roots hanging down. The rhizome should rest no lower than 2 inches below ground level. Cover the rhizome and firmly press down the soil. You are now ready to step back and watch your irises thrive!

4. Irises require minimal upkeep. At the end of blooming season, cut the dead stalks off a the base and remove any dead leaves. You will want to leave the green foliage intact. I find that it adds color and texture to your bed when there are no blooms. More importantly, the leaves are busy producing food for your irises to grow bigger rhizomes.

5. Every 3 years you will want to divide and replant your irises to prevent overcrowding and root rot. Overcrowding will cause you plants to not produce as many blooms and sometimes no blooms at all. The best time to do this is in late summer after the blooming season is over. Dig the rhizomes up and wash off the soil. Divide them into smaller sections and discard any old or soft rhizomes. Let them dry for a day before replanting. You can take that time to amend the soil with some additional compost.


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    • retta719 profile image

      Loretta 2 years ago from United States


      a continuously growing horizontal underground stem that puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at intervals.

      Here's a better explanation than I could probably write; ;-)

    • profile image

      Bob 2 years ago

      What the heck is a rhizome?

    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 3 years ago from Virginia

      Very pretty! It'll be featured on our Facebook page, "The Green Thumb: A Place For Gardeners To Gather" on March 12. Please like/share our page with your friends!

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 4 years ago

      Great lens and instructions for planting the Iris...I have to divide and move mine...thanks for sharing!

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 4 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Thanks for a great lens on irises. I have pinned it to my gardening board. The iris is one of my favorite flowers. You may enjoy my lens entitled, How to Divide Irises. Congrats on a great lens!

    • Carol Houle profile image

      Carol Houle 4 years ago from Montreal

      I like the white with 3 petals, though I've only seen them in the country. My sister's name is Violet Iris, so yes, I have spectacular, tall violet, bearded Irises in my garden :~)

    • JohnCumbow profile image

      JohnCumbow 4 years ago

      I love irises. We have a large patch of big yellow bearded irises and some smaller clumps of purple ones as well as a few others scattered around our place. Beautiful.

      Thanks for the growing tips. I just might have to create a few more iris beds around here.

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      We have many wonderful colors of irises growing in Arizona. I don't get to see them in people's yards, but there are wonderful plants at the botanical gardens here.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 4 years ago

      Irises are my favorite flowers, short-lived but worth waiting for. I have a few in the frontyard but would love to have more. Thanks for the tips.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      Growing Iris plants are sort of a staple in my garden. When the flower is spent the leaves still fill in a garden with their beauty.

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 4 years ago

      Nice lens, great tips, I like Iris in the garden too and so many beautiful colors and color combinations.

    • profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 4 years ago

      Thanks for the quick tips. My sister in law shared an orange Iris with me a few years ago and I am waiting for it to fill in a bit more. My kids went to a high school that had orange and black as its colors so I planted some black Iris there, too, and hoped to have a nice display, but the black ones never really got going.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      My sister just gave me a lot of iris and I've planted them in containers as I have no yard to plant them in. Wish me luck. This is in Florida.

    • seleen fouad profile image

      seleen fouad 4 years ago

      I love this flower.. thanks

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 4 years ago from New York

      I love Irises and when I had a large yard I grew many different color varieties. My favorites were dark purple, black and apricot.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 4 years ago

      I love irises! Nice new lens.