Showiest members of the genus 'Iris', Bearded Irises (Iris germanica) should have a place in any garden. While there are thousands of cultivars, all bear flowers with 6 petals: 3 upright petals (standards) and 3 dropping petals (falls) displaying a fuzzy line or beard in their center, guiding insects towards the pollen.

  • Flowers come in an array of gorgeous colors in the spring (April to June depending on cultivar) with some cultivars re-blooming in the summer and fall.
  • Many re-blooming iris are fragrant.
  • Perform best in full sun in humus rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils. They tolerate light shade, but best flowering and disease resistance occurs in full sun. Good soil drainage is essential to prevent rot issues.
  • Grow from creeping rhizomes which store food produced by the sword-shaped, semi-evergreen leaves and form large clumps over time
  • Welcomed additions to herbaceous borders, sunny courtyards or urban gardens where the sword-like foliage and vibrant colors will combine harmoniously with the stones and angular hardscaping. Roses provide a lovely backdrop to the tall varieties while the miniature dwarf irises are well suited to containers or rock gardens. Miniature Tall Bearded Irises are perfect for the vase.
  • The best time to plant bearded iris is July through September. Container-grown iris can be planted in the spring.
  • Bearded irises are classified by height and flower size into 6 groups. Since these groups bloom at slightly different time, combining specimens from different groups will extend your color display for a couple weeks.

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Miniature Dwarf (MDB)

Flower size: 2-3 in. (5-8 cm)
Height: up to 8 in. (20 cm)
Flowers per spike:1 or 2
Bloom: Earliest to bloom

Best spring Cultivars: Bantam (ruffled deep red-purple), Scribe (white with blue edging), Zipper (golden yellow with blue beards)

Best reblooming Cultivars: Ditto (cream and maroon bicolor)

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Standard Dwarf (SDB)

Flower size: 2-3 in. (5-8 cm)
Height: 8-16 in. (20-40 cm)
Flowers per spike: 3 or 4
Bloom: Begin blooms when Miniature Dwarf Irises are ending

Best spring Cultivars: Bay Ruffles (ruffled light blue), Starlight Waltz (ruffled cream), Violet Lulu (soft violet), Watercolor (yellow standards with brown falls)

Best reblooming Cultivars: Baby Blessed (light yellow), Jewel Baby (deep purple), Plum Wine (plum red with violet shading), Refined (pale yellow), Sun Doll (yellow)

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Intermediate (IB)

Flower size: 4-5 in. (10-13 cm)
Height: 16-28 in. (40-70 cm)
Flowers per spike: 4 or 5
Bloom: Late Spring. Their blooming season overlaps the standard Dwarf Irises through Tall Bearded Irises.

Best spring Cultivars: Baby Blue Marine (light blue), Brighten Up (orange with coral beards), Piece of Cake (pink with orchid markings), Red Zinger (deep red)

Best reblooming Cultivars: Blessed Again (light yellow), I Bless (cream, flowers nearly all summer), Concertina (pink) Honey Glazed (yellow), Low Ho Silver (silvery white)

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Miniature Tall (MTB)

Flower size: 4-5 in. (10-13 cm)
Height: 16-28 in. (40-70 cm)
Flowers per spike: 6 or more
Bloom: Late Spring, Early Summer. Bloom with the Border Bearded and Tall Bearded Irises. Their blooms are smaller than those of Border Bearded Irises.

Best spring Cultivars: Chickee (ruffled deep yellow), Disco Jewel (reddish-brown with violet), Loreley (yellow and violet) New Wave (clear white), Rosemary's Dream (white and orchid)

 

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Border Bearded (BB)

Flower size: 4-8 in. (10-20 cm)
Height: + 28 in. (+70cm)
Flowers per spike: 7 or more
Bloom: Late Spring - Early Summer. Bloom with the Tall Bearded Irises

Best spring Cultivars: Just Jennifer (white), Pink Bubbles (pink), Predictions (pink standards with falls), Tulare (yellow)

Best reblooming Cultivars: Double Up (blue and white bicolor with dark violet borders), Ultra Echo (lavender with violet)

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Tall Bearded Irises (TB)

Flower size: 2-3 in. (6-8 cm)
Height: 16-28 in. (40-70 cm)
Flowers per spike: 7 or more
Bloom: Late Spring, Early Summer. Last to bloom.

Best spring Cultivars: Beverly Sills (pink), Crystal Glitters (cream and peach), Darkside (purple), Fringe Benefits (orange), Lullaby of Spring (yellow and lavender), Silver Fizz (orchid), Spinning Wheel (blue standards), Superstition (Black), Venus and Mars (violet)

Best reblooming Cultivars: Bountiful Harvest (white and purple), Champagne Elegance (white & pink), Clarence (white & violet ), Feed Back (medium blue-violet), Eternal Bliss (violet with tangerine falls), Late Lilac (lilac), Immortality (white), Misty Twilight (pale violet-blue), Pink Attraction (ruffled pale pink), Silver Dividends (white), Suky (violet & white), Summer Olympics (light yellow), Violet Music (violet), Zurich (white with yellow beards).

  • Ingestion may cause discomfort.