Perennial of the Week-Bearded Iris

When you are thinking about all of the beautiful Irises that you have seen, do you realize that you may have been looking at several different species of Iris rather just the more common Bearded Iris? There are also Iris species know as Japanese, Dutch, English, Reticulatas and many other species.  In fact there are close to 300 species of Irises that can be found. Today I am going to talk about the Bearded Iris.

Bearded Irises are one of the most popular perennials planted around the world. Colors come in all shades except that of pure red and green. They also come in varying heights ranging from 8 inches high to some growing up to 4 feet high. Wow!

Bearded Iris performs best in well drained soil.  They do not like to have their feet or roots wet. They are susceptible to root rot. In heavier clay soils consider planting them in raised beds.  Plant in full sun with the “boot” or rhizome just barely under the soil, in fact the rhizome can be partially exposed.  If they are planted too deep, you will not get any flowers the following spring.

This species of Iris grow from rhizomes (modified stem with fleshy roots) and need to split or divided every few years.  Plant the rhizomes about a foot apart with the bend of the root pointed toward the back of your garden. These are a very hardy perennial.

Iris rhizomes are usually available for purchase in late July thru October.  They should be planted as soon as you get them.  Most gardeners will start thinning their Iris beds in July and many are willing to share extras that they are thinning out.

Check with your local garden clubs to see if they host any Iris Festivals in your area, usually in late May and early June.  If there is a festival nearby take the time to enjoy a walk through the Irises. Iris Festivals are absolutely amazing, for you will see more than the common yellow and purple irises on display.

What are some your favorite Iris varieties that you have planted in your garden?

Ask the Gardener-April 26th

AmericangothicToday we are going to tackle another one of the great questions our readers are sending to us.  Before we get to today’s question, we just want to remind you that you can ask us any of your gardening questions  here on these Ask the Gardener posts or by e-mailing us at  We will answer all of the questions we receive either here on the blog or in our new monthly newsletter.  The first issue of that newsletter should be hitting your e-mail inboxes the end of this week!  We hope you have signed up in the box in the sidebar for our newsletter.  You won’t want to miss a single issue!

Now, on to this week’s Ask the Gardener quesion:

When is the best time to transplant Irises?


Photo by: dog madic

When Spring has sprung and things begin to warm up, we tend to get Spring Fever and want to do everything in our yards and gardens.  Sometimes we get a little too eager and try to do things that are better off being done a little later in the growing season.  Iris transplanting and dividing is one of those things.

The best time to divide and transplant your Iris is approximately 6-8 weeks after they have finished blooming through fall.  So basically, anytime during the summer or fall time is a good time to transplant them.  However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind before you grab that shovel.  You don’t want to do your transplanting when it is too hot.  If it is 90+F, you will want to wait until it is cooler.  Generally you will find it best in late August or September, depending on where you live.

There are a couple of things that you will want to keep in mind when you do your transplanting.  When you plant your iris,  make sure that the surface of the rhizome is level with the surface of the ground or just below.  You don’t want to plant them too deeply or else your iris won’t flower.  Also make sure that you don’t mulch over the rhizomes or water your Iris with shallow and frequent waterings.  Overwatering and too much moisture in mulch could cause the rhizomes to soften and rot.

We will cover more about how to transplant Iris later when it is the ideal time to divide them.