I am in awe of the beauty and simplicity of the bearded iris. Until recently I had no idea how to properly care for and grow them. Bearded irises are one of the few bulbs that do not need a chilling period. Many bulbs such as the tulip, daffodil and crocus do need a chilling period before they will bloom, the bearded iris does not.
Bearded irises do very well during droughts and they love full sun so they can grow in area where most bulbs cannot. Phoenix, Arizona is well known for it’s dry and very warm conditions, most bulbs cannot survive here but bearded irises can! My grandmother lives in the desert of New River, AZ she has bearded irises growing!
I live in Northern Arizona where it is warm in the summer but snowy and frigid in the winters. Sadly my bearded irises did not bloom last spring and I could not figure out why so I did some research. Most uninformed gardeners will make the same mistake I did, the tendency will be to over water them.
Irises need well drained soil that is allowed to dry out between watering. They like full sun and like any bulb they need to be fertilized to do their best. Excessive shade will lessen and even prevent your iris from blooming.
Also, they need time to grow some well established roots before the freeze comes. I planted mine in the fall (September to be exact) and I also had to dig them up and replant them because I initially planted mine way too deep in the soil.
According to all the advice I found bearded irises like to be planted only about 1 inch deep, any deeper and the rhizome will become soggy and begin to rot. Irises do best when their rhizome is firm and healthy.
Irises are great naturalizers and will multiply easily. Irises can be divided in the spring right after flowering by cutting the rhizome with a sharp knife and allowing the cut to scab over. Leaves can be cut back to about one third of their length. Once the rhizome is scabbed it can be replanted and will grow for years to come.
Specific plant info:
Blooms from summer to spring, low water needs, does not require chilling period. Blooms in spring and does best in full sun and well drained soil. USDA zones 4-9.
Did you know?
- Brown streaks on the leaves might mean you have an iris borer. This can be remedied by digging the rhizomes and dipping them in a solution of 1 part bleach 4 parts water.
- Your iris should be divided about every 3-5 years, not dividing them could result in limited blooms.