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Easy iris

From beginners to pros, gardeners love this perennial

The flower of the tall bearded iris is one of the first flowers that I can remember as a child and it is the first perennial plant that I learned how to dig and divide. Tall bearded irises are easy to grow and perfect for the beginning gardener, but often revered by even the most experienced gardener.  

Tall bearded irises are available with flowers in almost every color and color combination imaginable. In fact, there are so many varieties to choose from, it was hard to pick just three to picture above. The tall bearded iris typically blooms in in the mid to late spring throughout Kentucky, and reblooming tall bearded irises can bloom again in late August to September.

THIS IRIS PREFERS TO GROW IN FULL SUN, in average moist, but well-drained, soils. While some varieties of iris like wet soils, the tall bearded iris does not, so it is best to avoid heavy or poorly drained soils. This group of iris can grow 28 inches tall or taller, making it stand out nicely in the garden. The dwarf bearded iris is less than 15 inches tall and the intermediate bearded iris is 15 to 28 inches tall.

TALL BEARDED IRIS IS EASY TO DIG AND DIVIDE, and tubers are shared with family and friends and even kept in families for generations. Every three or four years—or when your planting gets crowded—it’s time to dig and divide your tall bearded iris. The tubers are large, and easy to separate and replant. Late summer and early fall are the best times to dig and divide iris beds. 

YOUR GARDEN CAN BLOOM MAY TO SEPTEMBER when you choose a variety of iris. Each group of iris has its own requirements, so it’s fun to try different ones depending on your environment. My garden has reblooming tall bearded iris, several varieties of Siberian iris and reticulated iris. Even when not in bloom, the foliage stands nicely among all my other plants. 

SHELLY NOLD is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207. 

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