Growing irises is highly rewarding, and easy, too. Their large, extravagant flowers are borne in clusters on each stem, from late spring to early summer.
Bearded irises grow from rhizomes, which are creeping stems growing along or just beneath the soil surface. Irises are very resilient, surviving freezing conditions in winter, and drought in summer.
With a great range of sizes available, bearded irises are categorised as short, intermediate or tall. Shorter varieties tend to be good for growing in exposed, windy areas, or on slopes. The taller varieties look stunning in mixed borders, but may need supporting with canes.
The flowers are made up of three named parts: the standards (upper petals), the falls (lower petals) and the beard ('hairs' in the throat of the flower). Most varieties have a sweet, spicy fragrance. Browse our choice of 10 beautiful irises, from the Cayeux Iris stand at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013.
(Thanks to Cayeux Iris for help with creating this feature.)
Iris 'Art Déco'
Iris 'Art Déco' is a tall bearded plicata iris with dark violet standards. The white falls have a dark blue-violet 'stitching' effect around the edges of each petal. Very early flowering, from mid-April to late May.
Iris 'Butterscotch Kiss'
Iris 'Butterscotch Kiss' is a tall, bearded iris with slightly ruffled petals. The standards, falls and beards making up the flowers are all in the same shade of caramel-yellow. Mid-season flowering, from May to June, height 90cm.
Iris 'Dancer's Veil'
Iris 'Dancer's Veil' is another tall, bearded plicata iris, with ruffled petals. The standards are pale violet flushed with white, while the falls are pure white with narrow, pale-violet edges. Mid-season flowering, from May to June, height 80cm.
Iris 'Minted Gold'
An intermediate bearded iris, Iris 'Minted Gold' is suitable for planting on slopes or in windy areas. The standard and fall petals are bright gold in colour, with orange-gold beards. Mid- to late-season flowering, from May to June, height 60cm.
An intermediate bearded iris, Iris 'Orageux' bears striking, copper-coloured standards and deep red falls. The shorter stem makes it useful for slopes or in windy areas. Early- to mid-season flowering, during May, height 50cm.
Iris 'Petit Tigre'
Iris 'Petit Tigre' is an intermediate bearded iris with bronze standards and pale yellow falls, attractively streaked with deep red markings. Short, strong stems. Mid- to late-season flowering, from May to June, height 65cm.
Iris 'Pink Pele'
An intermediate bearded iris with bright, Iris 'Pink Pele' has peach-coloured petals. Each fall is blushed with contrasting purple and has a vibrant, coral-red beard. Mid- to late-season flowering, from May to June, and grows to approximately 60cm.
A tall bearded iris with smooth petals, Iris 'Rajah' has bright yellow standards, contrasting with the rich, bronze-purple falls, each of which have a fine gold edge. Mid- to late-season flowering, from May to June, and grows to approximately 75cm.
Iris 'Raspberry Blush'
A short bearded iris, Iris 'Raspberry Blush' is useful for growing in exposed areas or on slopes. Dusky, pale pink standards, and the falls have a pale purple blush and bright orange beard. Mid- to late-season flowering, from May to June, height 40cm.
Iris 'Red Zinger'
An intermediate bearded iris, Iris 'Red Zinger' produces deep, red wine-coloured, large flowers. The the falls are slighter darker than the standards, the throat and beard are both gold. Mid- to late-season flowering, from May to June, height 65cm.