Bearded Irises

Grace your garden with the elegant blooms of bearded iris.

Iris germanica  (01) Bloom

Iris germanica (01) Bloom

Iris germanica

Photo by: Courtesy of National Gardening Association

Courtesy of National Gardening Association

Iris germanica

Celebrate spring with the beautiful blooms of bearded iris. These perennial favorites start flowering in mid-spring and last until mid-June, depending on the variety. Bearded iris (Iris germanica) are a traditional garden flower for decorating graves on Memorial Day. In the temperate zones of the Midwest and Northeast, these bloomers are usually staging a spectacular show about that time.

Bearded iris open fascinating, intricate flowers. The blossoms have two different set of petals that serve specific purposes. An upright set, which is known as the standards, acts as signal flags to beckon pollinating insects. 

A lower set of petals that cascades downward is known as falls. The falls provide a landing pad for pollinating insects. The beard on a bearded iris occurs on the fall petals, and it helps give pollinators a place to grab as they zip in for a landing. Watch bumblebees visit bearded iris blooms, and you’ll witness how they land on the falls, clamber up the beard and scurry into the center of the flower. 

The petals of bearded iris can occur in virtually any number of colors, from black, to yellow, to burgundy, to orange. The traditional purple and blue iris flowers seem to be the most common, and they’re the ones you’ll often see at local plant swaps. These old-fashioned types typically have a lovely, light fragrance. Many of the hybrids open perfumed blooms, too.

Plant bearded iris in full sun in soil that drains well. These iris grow from a specialized stem known as a rhizome. It’s fat, fleshy and easily rots, so it’s important to make sure soil drains well. Add compost or composted manure to planting beds to improve drainage. The other key to preventing rhizome rot is not to plant stems too deeply. 

When you’re planting iris, dig a hole up to 10 inches deep so roots have ample loose soil to sink into. If your bearded iris rhizome has long roots, create a mound in the planting hole to set the rhizome on and let roots dangle into the planting hole. Position rhizomes so that the top is just even with or slightly higher than the surrounding soil surface. 

Bearded iris need a dry period after flowering. This is a time of semi-dormancy, when the plants rest. In this time, it’s important not to water. This semi-dormant state that bearded iris enter in summer makes them a great plant for using in a xeriscape design, especially in regions where spring rains will keep plants watered prior to the flowering window. 

These perennials are hardy in Zones 3 to 9 and bring low-maintenance beauty to the garden. The only real upkeep is snipping spent flowering stems and clipping foliage in fall. This helps to prevent pests and diseases from overwintering among the plant debris.

Next Up

Growing Siberian Iris

Discover the tough-as-nails beauty Siberian iris and learn how to use it in your garden.

Iris Flower: Varieties to Grow and How to Care for Them

Learn popular iris varieties that flower in a multitude of colors and the meaning behind the flower's name.

Learn How to Plant and Grow Spider Lily

These old-fashioned favorites bring gorgeous blooms when other flowers have faded, popping up like magic in late summer.

Transplanting Irises

Learn how to dig and move bearded and Siberian irises.

How to Plant, Grow and Care for Hyacinth Flowers

Sweet-smelling hyacinths are a symbol of spring. Learn how to grow these iconic flowers.

How to Grow Gladiolus Flowers

Plant easy-to-grow gladioli in spring and watch them burst into beautiful summertime blooms.

Are Mums Perennials?

Learn which mums you can count on to color your landscape for years to come.

Mexican Petunias: Plant With Caution

Whether you call them hardy petunias, perennial petunias or Mexican bluebells, this pretty petunia has a wild side.

Planting and Growing Garden Phlox

Learn how to plant, grow and care for this perennial charmer in your garden.

How to Plant and Grow Balloon Flower

The easy-to-grow, old-fashioned balloon flower brings showy blooms to the late summer garden.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.


Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.