Bearded Iris Planting & Growing Guide

Named after the goddess of rainbows, Irises are among the most popular and vibrant garden perennials in the world. They bloom in a full spectrum of magical colors and fascinating forms, making these versatile showstoppers a prize choice in gardens. Not only do Bearded Irises flaunt extravagant flowers on stately plants from spring to fall, but they're also rugged, reliable, deer-resistant, and incredibly easy to grow. Learn how to plant and grow these beauties for a display that's simply Iris-istible!

  • Planting Depth
    1/2 - 1"
  • Planting Proximity
    8-12" Apart
  • Planting Season
    Spring to Fall
  • Plant Benefits
    Reliable bloomers in the Spring and re-bloom in the fall. Plus they are so easy to grow!
  • Water Quantity
    Moderate to Low once established
  • Bloom Season
    Spring to Fall
  • Sunlight Quantity
    Full to Partial Sun
  • Hardiness Zones
    Zones 5-10

Where to Plant Irises

Find a location where your Iris will receive full sun. In warmer climates, a bit of afternoon shade is fine.

For outdoor planting, choose a spot with well-draining soil. If you notice water puddles 5–6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site or amend the soil with organic material such as compost, ground bark, or decomposed manure.

For container planting, keep in mind that Bearded Irises grow into large, perennial plants with rhizomes that expand into an extensive network over time. Choose a pot, barrel, tub, or urn that's at least 2 gallons with drainage holes.

When to Plant Bearded Irises

Plant Irises in late summer or early fall, when the night-time temperatures are between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. This will give the roots time to get established before winter.

In warmer regions, you can plant Bearded Irises between late October and early November. Rhizomes may bloom lightly or not at all their first season, but they will catch up and start flowering regularly in subsequent years.

How to Plant Bearded Irises

  • Space your Iris rhizomes 8–12" apart and position them horizontally, so the tops are just peeking above the soil surface, and the roots are spread out in the soil below.
  • Pack the soil around the Iris, leaving a portion of the rhizome and foliage uncovered. Compared with many other bulbs, this seems too shallow, but it's perfect for Bearded Irises. In warmer climates, cover the rhizome with 1/2" to 1" of soil to prevent the rhizome from sustaining sun damage.
  • Water thoroughly following planting to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets around the rhizome. After the initial watering, ease off on the water; your bulb doesn't need more moisture until roots develop and foliage begins to grow.

How to Grow Reblooming Bearded Irises

  • Water your Bearded Irises regularly once the foliage starts to develop until about six weeks after the flowers have faded. This moisture will increase clump development and bud production for the next blooming period. While it's important to be mindful not to overwater, they appreciate consistent and deep watering during summer droughts.
  • Apply a balanced fertilizer in early spring and after the first round of flowering to encourage an abundance of blooms. Be careful: high-nitrogen fertilizer will encourage rhizome rot.
  • Cut a few blooms for beautiful, often lightly fragrant bouquets. While Irises don't make exceptionally long-lasting cut flowers, the colors and details are outstanding when appreciated up close.
  • Remove the spent flower stems after blooming has finished for the season, but leave the foliage in place. The sword-like leaves will gather sunlight, photosynthesize, and provide nourishment for next season's show. The foliage will also give your garden striking vertical interest.
  • Trim the foliage back to about 6” above the rhizome following the first hard frost, removing any leaves that appear spotted or yellowed.

Bearded Iris Tips & Tricks

  • Irises attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators and make fantastic cut flowers.
  • Irises pair beautifully with Roses, Peonies, and Lilies.
  • Foliage will begin to form in the autumn. In warmer climates, a few varieties may even bloom again in the winter. For most areas, spring will bring a flush of new foliage and flowers.