How to Grow Iris for Beginners

How do you Grow an Iris?

This can be a difficult question to answer for beginner gardeners because of numerous factors including climate, soil, and experience level.

This article will help solve this problem and give beginner gardeners Easy-to-Follow Steps on growing Iris ANYWHERE.

And I recommend scrolling to the bottom of this page to find answers to the 7 most frequently asked questions most gardeners have when growing Iris.


Step #1Plant One of These 5 Types of Iris

There are two classifications of the Iris.

There are the rhizome Irises and bulb irises.

The rhizome Iris is a thickened, horizontal stem that typically grows underground and can partially be seen above ground.

The bulb Iris (which most gardeners grow) have a thick, vertical stem that grows above ground and has three upright petal flowers when bloomed.

When buying and planting one of these 3 types of irises you should make sure that the bulbs are firm, unblemished, with few or no tears to the outer coating.

I am recommending three specific types of Iris that are simple to grow and care for regardless of your experience.

A) Bearded Iris

bearded iris
  • Hardiness Zone: 3 – 10
  • Length & Width: 3 feet x 2 feet
  • Watering Needs: Average
  • Sun Exposure: Partial-Sun
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring

The Bearded Iris are composed over several different parts.

The Bearded Iris has standards, the falls, stigma flaps, and the beard.

Some popular types of Bearded Iris includes the dwarf bearded iris and the bearded iris.

These are the most common iris that you will see typically planted around lampposts, flower gardens, and around your house.

B) Beardless Iris

beardless iris
  • Hardiness Zone: 3 – 10
  • Length & Width: 3 feet x 2 feet
  • Watering Needs: Average
  • Sun Exposure: Partial-Sun
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring

The Beardless Iris is another popular type of Iris that you will see across gardeners flower gardens in North America.

This type of Iris is comprised of standard standards, falls, and stigma flaps.

Some of the most popular types of Beardless Iris is the Dutch Iris and the Siberian Iris.

C) Crested Iris

crested iris
  • Hardiness Zone: 3 – 10
  • Length & Width: 3 feet x 2 feet
  • Watering Needs: Average
  • Sun Exposure: Partial-Sun
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring

The Crested Iris is a lesser known type of Iris, but may be the most beautiful kind.

This type of Iris consists of standards, falls, and stigma flaps.

The one distinguishing feature of this iris is that the stigma flaps come in yellow or orange. The flat flowers have fringe petal flowers and a beautiful smell.

The Crested Iris is a Rhizome Iris and even though it comes primarily underground is perfect for raised garden beds, flower gardens, and even traditional gardens.

Step #2:  How to Grow Iris from Bulbs

The Iris is a beautiful flower that blooms in early to mid-spring.

Unlike conventional thinking, Iris are perennial flowers.

Most flower gardeners think Iris are annual flowers because hybrid iris can become weakened perennials over time.

Step 1 – Plant Your Iris Bulbs in the Fall

Iris Bulbs

First, make sure you buy your appropriate Iris on Amazon on another reputable garden vendor.

Plant your iris bulbs in the fall when your soil has cooled off & the temperature is between 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant your bulbs before the first frost!

Take the temperature of your soil and ensure that it will stay below 60 degrees for 12 weeks or think about planting your iris in pots.

  • Hardiness Zones 3 – 5: Plant in September
  • Hardiness Zones 6 – 7: Plant in October
  • Hardy Zones 8 – 9: Plant in December

*Find Your Hardiness Zone HERE*

Step 2 – Prepare Your Soil THIS Way!

Planting Iris

Locate the area of your flower garden or yard where you want to plant your iris.

  • Iris do best in an area that receives partial to full afternoon sun.
  • The soil should be well-draining and should be neutral to slightly acidic (6.0 – 7.0 pH level).
  • The flower garden should be well protected from wind and heavy rain.

Mix 3 inches of Flower Garden Soil to the top 6 inches of your garden soil.

Step 3 – Simply Plant Your Iris Bulbs

Planting Iris Bulbs

To have the most success planting your bulbs you should simply dig a hole 8 inches deep and plant 10 iris bulbs next to each other.

*Make sure the Iris Bulbs “pointy” part is facing up*

Then mix flower fertilizer (that has a 10-10-10 NPK ratio) in the hole (according to the the instructions). And then fill the holes with your flower and garden soil mix.

Next, water your iris bulbs for 15 seconds. This will help promote the start of root growth. Continue to water your bulbs for 15 seconds once a week for the first month.

Then continue this process for as many bulbs as you want to grow. Make sure to spread each set of 10 iris bulbs 4 inches apart.

Step 4 – Do THIS in the Winter

In the beginning of winter you will want to mulch your flower garden bed.

After you mulch the flower garden bed do nothing else to your iris bulbs the rest of winter.

Step 5- And do THIS in the Spring

Iris Blooms

Once the year becomes spring and your Iris grow leaves then you should add flower fertilizer again.

Then water your iris once a week until your iris blooms.

As soon your iris petals fall off the flower deadhead it.

And make sure to keep your leaves on the flower for 6 weeks while your flower absorbs and retains energy for next year’s bloom.

Step 6 – Maintain minimal maintenance in summer

Once it becomes summer you should cut the stem and leaves of your iris where it meets the soil.

Do not water your iris in the summer. Do not fertilize your iris in the summer. Simply leave your iris in the ground all summer.

Frequently Asked Questions (9 Questions)

#1. How Do You Grow Iris in Pots?

If you are not able to plant your iris bulbs in an area your garden or yard, or if your soil will not stay below 60 degrees Fahrenheit then you should plant your Iris in a container.

To have the most success planting Iris Bulbs in pots you should do the following:

  • Bury your bulbs in a container with 8 inches of Flower Garden Soil over it.
  • Make sure the “pointy” end of the bulb is facing up
  • Immediately water your iris bulbs for 15 seconds
  • Before the first frost of the year move your container to an area of your property that is cool and dry. Keep it here throughout winter
  • Once you notice green growth emerging in the winter move your container into a sunny area and begin watering it once a week.
  • Once your iris petals fall off you will want to deadhead your flower.
  • Let the green growth of your plant remain for 6 weeks. Then cut it and your stem where it meets your soil.

#2. How Do I Water My Iris?

watering iris

You should water your Iris three different ways.

  • Immediately after you plant your iris bulbs you should soak the soil for 15 seconds
  • Continue watering your iris bulbs once a week for the first month and then don’t water until the spring
  • Begin watering your iris once a week once green growth returns in the spring

#3. How Do I Feed My Iris?

To properly feed your iris with fertilizer you should wait until the iris flowers have faded and begun falling off your flower.

To have the most success use Iris Fertilizer. This will help your iris store nutrients properly for the next season.

For best results, simply follow the instructions on your fertilizer product.

#4. How Do I Cut Iris?

cutting iris

If you want to display your iris indoors then cut iris when the flowers have grown, but not blossomed. It is okay if the flower bud is slightly green, but should have color.

If you want your iris to last longer in the vase then you should add Miracle-Gro for Fresh Cut Flowers.

#5. How Do I Protect my Iris from Pests

iris pests

The biggest threat to your iris is deer, squirrels, and chipmunks. This is both when your iris are growing and blooming.

To prevent your bulbs from digging up place bird netting over the ground where they are planted.

If you are trying to prevent deer then you should use deer repellent. If this does not work then grow your iris bulbs in pots and containers out of the deer’s reach.

#6. How do I Prevent Common Iris Diseases

iris diseases

The most common iris diseases and harmful insects are gray mold, slugs, snail, aphids, nematodes, and bulb rot.

You can help prevent these diseases and harmful insects by using a fungicide spray and an insecticide spray in early spring as green growth begins to emerge.

#7. What are the Best Uses for Iris?

iris uses

Iris are best used for indoor display, but can also add color to raised garden beds, container gardening, or even in your traditional flower garden.

Iris can complement columbines, azaleas, lilacs, daffodils, crocus, and even hyacinths.

#8. What types of Bulb Should I buy?

iris bulbs

Purchasing Iris Bulbs is a much easier task than say vegetable or herb seeds, where you have to worry about GMOs, Organic, Heirloom, etc.

When buying iris bulbs you should stick to hybrid or heirloom. These will give you the best success in growing Iris.

Hybrid Iris Bulbs are weakened perennials that may or may not come up every year.

Heirlom Iris Bulbs are perennial bulbs that come up yearly but have a higher risk of contracting a disease, harmful insect, or fungus.

Just as important is where you buy your bulbs from. I recommend buying your seeds from Amazon. This will provide you with the best price and quickest delivery.

#9. What Type of Gardening Pot Should I Buy?

gardenings pots

I recommend buying one type of pot.

Buy a 5-gallon pot.

  • This is essential if you want to allow your iris to grow to its fullest. It is also important if you want to continue to grow your iris outside.

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