Iris 'Wonders Never Cease'

Bearded iris - Grow Guide

Take a look at our comprehensive guide on growing bearded irises.

The Iris genus is vast and includes over 250 species. Some grow from rhizomes and others from bulbs, but it's the bearded iris (Iris germanica cultivars), grown from a rhizome, that are the most familiar to us. These are hardy perennials.

The bearded iris offers sword-like foliage that is evident throughout the year and flamboyant blooms in May or June. Each bloom is made up of large outer and inner petals. The inner petals are referred to as the standards and the outers as falls. Bearded iris have numerous hairs along the centre of the falls – hence their common name.

Take a look at our handy guide or information on how to grow bearded iris. 


Planting position

Bearded iris enjoy a position of full sun. Avoid crowding them with other plants as the rhizome needs to be backed by the sun to encourage flowers. For this reason you often find a bed dedicated to just iris.

They’ll grow well in a neutral, well-drained soil. A south-facing border with the protection of wall is ideal.

Planting technique

Bearded iris can be planted in autumn or spring. If you've bought potted plants, make sure they're planted at the same depth as they were in the pot. If purchased as a bare rhizome, soak the rhizome in water for a few minutes before planting.

If planting in a poorly-drained soil, dig in some horticultural grit to improve drainage. Plant so the top of the rhizome is just above the soil surface. Position the rhizome facing south if possible. Water plants in well.


Divide bearded iris every third year for the good of the parent plant and to create more plants. The heart of a mature iris can become woody and unproductive after a few years.

After flowering lift the rhizome with a garden fork. Cut off the healthy, young rhizomes at the edge of the plant and discard the woody centre. Replant the new plants immediately and cut back the foliage to about 12cm. This prevents the plants from being rocked about in the wind. 


Bearded iris can suffer from rhizome rot. As with all rotting things, the rhizome will start to smell and the base of the leaves will turn yellow. You may not spot the problem until you see foliage collapsed on the ground. The best way to cure this fungal problem is to cut out and discard sections of the affected growth. The problem tends to be worse in humid and hot conditions. 

Bearded iris can also be affected by iris leaf spot, a fungal disease. Fungal spores are easily spread in wet weather and enter through damaged leaves. Minimise the risk by clearing away leaf debris from around plants, and avoid damaging leaves and stems unnecessarily


After flowering, deadhead plants as you may be lucky and get a second flush. In autumn tidy up the evergreen foliage by trimming it back to about 15cm.

Keep iris beds well weeded as shading from weeds will not be beneficial. Feed plants with a general purpose fertiliser in spring.

Divide plants every third year. 

Watering can

Iris for scent and colour

Flowers are scented and come in nearly all colours of the rainbow, apart from red.

Iris 'Bold Print'
Iris 'Bold Print'

Bearded iris to grow

  • Iris ‘Before the Storm’ – the blackest iris on offer. Flowers in May or June reaching about 90cm in height
  • Iris ‘Bluebeard's Ghost’ – a lightly scented white flower with blue beards. Flowers in May or June. Reaches a height of 35cm
  • Iris ‘Bold Print’ – white flowers with a ruffled blue-purple edging. Reaching 75cm when in flower in early June
  • Iris ‘Sable' – inky blue flowers in July offering fragrance. Reaches a height of 75cm
  • Iris ‘Susan Bliss’ – an old variety with lilac flower in June. Height 80cm

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