Bearded Iris

Named for Iris, the Greek goddess of the rainbow, this herbaceous perennial is a common and beautiful garden bloom.
Related To:

Plant type: Herbaceous perennial
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 10

Bearded iris is the most commonly grown iris. Its flower has six petals; the three upright petals are called standards, and three hanging petals are called falls. A characteristic fuzzy line, or the beard, comes out of each fall; this is where the bearded iris gets its name. Flowers come in a variety of colors, including pink, white, rose, purple, blue, yellow, orange and bicolors. Blooms in spring with some cultivars repeat-blooming throughout summer and fall. Semi-evergreen leaves are narrow, green and swordlike, growing together in a fan shape. Bearded iris is classified into three main groups based on height: dwarf (height is no more than 15 inches tall), intermediate (between 15 and 28 inches), and tall (greater than 28 inches).

How to use it: Plant in mass for full effect. Use in the front to middle of a sunny, mixed perennial border. Plant in a cottage garden. Cutflower.

Culture: Prefers a moist, well-drained or sandy soil. Requires good drainage. If planting in clayey soils, amend soil to provide good drainage or raise planting beds. Plant in full sun to partial afternoon shade (only in hot climates). Benefits by fertilization. Iris have rhizomes which are thick, fleshy stems that grow underground. To plant rhizomes, dig a shallow hole just below the soil surface. Place rhizomes with the growing tip pointed up and roots pointed down. Make sure the growing tip is oriented in the direction where you want it to go since the fan will grow from that point. If planting several rhizomes, space approximately one foot apart. Primarily propagated through division. Requires division every three to five years and can be done from July to October. (The appropriate time to divide depends on the climate and giving plants enough time to establish before winter arrives.) To divide bearded iris, cut back fans by at least half and lift the clump out of the ground. Hose off excess soil at the roots. With a clean, sharp knife, cut rhizomes apart into sections so that each section has one fan and some healthy roots. May have problems with iris borer and rot (in poorly draining soils). To control iris borer, cleanliness is key. When foliage has died back, remove and destroy debris; this is where the borer overwinters.

Special notes: The name iris is derived from Greek mythology where Iris was the goddess of the rainbow, therefore aptly named for its variety of flower colors. The Dykes Medal is the prestigious award given to a notable, outstanding performing bearded iris selected each year.

Selected cultivars

  • 'Beverly Sills'. Perhaps the most in-demand bearded iris. Bright coral pink flowers. 1985 Dykes Medal winner.
  • 'Splashacata'. Features iridescent blue standards and purple falls speckled and frosted in white. 2005 Dykes Medal winner.

Next Up

Aster: Our Favorite Flowers

These bright daisy-like blooms are the stars of the late summer and fall garden.

Mexican Petunias: Plant With Caution

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

Gayfeather: Our Favorite Flowers

Charm your garden with these beautiful specimens.

Daylily

This popular low-maintenance flower attracts butterflies.

'May Night' Salvia

Savor the deep purple blooms of woodland sage.

Baby's Breath Plant Care

Learn more about this popular floral arrangement filler including how to grow it in your garden and how to use it in a variety of ways.

Western Columbine: Our Favorite Flowers

Add visual interest to your garden with this unique flower.

How to Plant and Grow Balloon Flower

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

Anise Sage

Deep blue flowers distinguish this hummingbird favorite.

Campion, catchfly

This colorful perennial is great for a mixed perennial border or cottage garden.

Go Shopping

Spruce up your outdoor space with products handpicked by HGTV editors.

What's New in Outdoors

On TV

Fixer Upper

6am | 5c

Fixer Upper

7am | 6c

Fixer Upper

8am | 7c

Fixer Upper

9am | 8c

Fixer Upper

10am | 9c

Fixer Upper

11am | 10c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Fixer Upper

1pm | 12c

Fixer Upper

2pm | 1c

Fixer Upper

3pm | 2c

Fixer Upper

4pm | 3c

Fixer Upper

5pm | 4c

Fixer Upper

6pm | 5c

Fixer Upper

7pm | 6c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Fixer Upper

8pm | 7c

Fixer Upper

10pm | 9c

Fixer Upper

11pm | 10c

Fixer Upper

1am | 12c

Fixer Upper

2am | 1c

Fixer Upper

3am | 2c

Fixer Upper

4am | 3c

Fixer Upper

5am | 4c

Follow Us Everywhere

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