Bearded Culture

Origin: Central and southern Europe

Iris subsection classification is Eupogons

Tall bearded iris are identified by a fuzzy “beard” on each fall.  Each group has its own unique qualities ranging from the stately to the petite.

They are defined by height as follows:

  • Tall Bearded (TB) 27½ to 40 or more inches
  • Border Bearded (BB)  16 to 27 inches
  • Intermediate Bearded (IB)  16 to 27 inches
  • Miniature Tall Bearded (MTB)* 16 to 25 inches
  • Standard Dwarf Bearded (SDB)  8 to 15 inches
  • Miniature Dwarf Bearded (MDB)* up to 8 inches
    *These perform marginally in the southwest

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Keep rhizomes dry and cool until planting time. Do not refrigerate.

Plant in September and October.

Prepare soil at least 2 weeks before planting. Use mulch or compost to loosen soil. Add fertilizer high in phosphorus. (That’s the middle number on the package; it should be twice the first number.) Follow product directions for amount to use. Work mulch and fertilizer into the soil to a depth of 12 inches.

Space TB’s 18 to 24 inches apart. Smaller types can be spaced closer. Rhizomes grow from end with leaves; point that end in the direction you want growth to go.

Remove dried roots from rhizomes. Plant just below soil surface; spread remaining roots underneath. Pack soil firmly around rhizomes to eliminate air pockets.

Water deeply to settle soil and plants. Keep soil damp until new growth shows. Once established, water less frequently. In the spring, keep soil moist through the bloom season. From bloom to fall, water lightly.

When danger of frost is past, begin feeding at 2 to 3 week intervals and continue through bloom. Use all-purpose water soluble plant food high in phosphorus at the manufacturer’s recommended amount.

The diversity of Bearded irises creates both bold and subtle effects in any garden.

Background photo ‘Copper Bubblebath’ TB 2002 (A&D Cadd)