iris flower header

Plant Profile: Bearded Iris (Bearded rhizomatous irises)

Iris, the Greek word for “Rainbow”, are some of our favorite flowers for a garden. Bearded iris have creeping rhizomes (like certain grass types we have discussed) that spread horizontally instead of vertically like most flowers. These flowers bloom in the late spring, and can make a great color addition to any garden.

Similar to daylilies, bearded iris require full sun (6+ hours) and prefer well drained soil. If drainage is a concern, plant Iris in a garden bed that is sloped, or slightly raised above the ground. The best part about planting Iris, is that they are deer resistant, which means you no longer have to worry about deer ruining your garden!

Planting Bearded Iris

iris rhizome explanation

The area which she is pointing to is the main section of the rhizome. It’s important that when you are planting Iris, to NOT fully cover this section of the flower.

  1. Dig a hole twice the width of the longest rhizome, and about six inches deep.
  2. Like the daylily, build a small mound within the hole which will allow the Iris to sit on. Roughly 75% of the main rhizome (pictured above) should be exposed above the surface level.
  3. The Iris has a front and back. The back is where the rhizome roots are pointing. When planting, aim the roots away from lawn or garden edges so the rhizomes have enough area to expand.
  4. Water, and add fertilizer if this is a newly established garden. Add something with a nitrogen content no higher than 10.

Iris Maintenance

Iris will require slightly more upkeep than other other low maintenance perennials. They expand quickly and will create multiple rhizomes that increase the number of Iris in a garden. Every few years they need to be divided.

Iris rhizome cluster.

To divide the Bearded Iris, dig up the roots of the flower first. In the picture above you can easily see the clump of Iris rhizomes. Simply dig up the plant, and pull off the rhizomes around the middle one, which will be the biggest rhizome. If you are going to transport the rhizome to another area, be sure that the height of the established rhizome is no bigger than 3 inches or so. Most gardeners recommend dividing Iris one month after they have flowered.

We hope this was informative and you enjoyed reading this! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.

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