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Bearded Iris Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Iris Germanica”

Complete guide to Bearded Iris Flowers for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for "Iris Germanica"
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Are you looking for an elegant and colorful perennial to grow in your garden? You should get yourself a Bearded Iris.

Iris Germanica, a.k.a. the Bearded Iris, is one of the most popular perennials globally and the most popular type of flower from the Iris genus. This flower should have a place in any garden because it comes in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes. So whether you have a large garden or a small one, you’ll surely find the perfect type of Bearded Iris.

This perennial got its name from the Greek goddess Iris, Hera’s messenger, and the goddess of rainbows. And we think this name represents it very well, considering that it comes in plenty of magical colors found in the rainbow, including red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, brown, white, black, and pink.

An interesting thing to know about the Iris genus is that it is a very old genus of plants. It evolved about 82 million years ago, giving the plant enough time to diversify and adapt to different growing conditions. For this reason, Iris flowers are incredibly easy to grow. They can thrive in various types of soils and both partial shade or full sun.

Bearded Iris group of plants includes many other subcategories such as tall bearded, intermediate, short, miniature, and border bearded. The size of the plants is the main distinguishing characteristic of these subcategories.

Ready to find out more about how to grow and care for Bearded Iris? Keep reading below!

About Bearded Iris

  • The botanical name of Bearded Iris is Iris Germanica, but you might find it labeled as Purple Flag, German iris, Orris-root, and Tall Bearded German Iris.
  • Bearded Iris belongs to the family of Iridaceae. Its origin is uncertain, but specialists believe that some of these plants are native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean area.
  • Bearded Irises can be excellent additions to any garden that provides them with the ideal growing conditions. These flowers will bring a lot of life, as they attract butterflies and hummingbirds and an amazing color palette in the outdoor space. They are perfect for any outdoor space, from herbaceous borders to sunny courtyards or urban gardens.
  • These perennials are really sun-loving and need full sun to thrive. Bearded Irises can also adapt to partial shade but, if you grow them in shade, they tend to produce fewer blooms, and they may become more sensitive to various diseases.
  • Although Iris Germanica thrives in moist soil, it also needs the soil to have good drainage because it is susceptible to root rot. So, make sure you plant your Irises in well-draining soil, and you don’t overwater them.
  • Iris species prefer temperate climates as they are adapted to the changing seasons. Bearded Iris typically has a period of rapid growth in spring and autumn but slows down or goes dormant during the summer and winter months.
  • This perennial doesn’t mind extreme temperature either, as long as its soil allows rainwater or snowmelt to drain away effectively.
  • Bearded Iris is toxic to cats and dogs because it contains some toxic substances such as resinous purgative irisin and cytotoxic terpenoids. Symptoms of ingestion of this perennial can be vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, and sometimes even death.
  • So, whether you grow your Irises indoors or outdoors, make sure that you place them somewhere out of your pets’ reach.
  • The most common and serious pest that can affect your Bearded Iris is the iris borer, the larvae of the Macronoctua onusta moth. Iris borer can cause serious damage to your perennial by destroying the rhizomes by making them rot from inside out. Iris borer infestation can be treated with insecticide application and with beneficial nematodes.
  • Severe other disease issues of this perennial include bacterial soft rot, crown rot fungus, and fungal leaf spot.
Bearded Iris
Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris Features: An Overview

  • Iris Germanica is a hardy rhizomatous perennial. The plant’s size when it reaches maturity can be between 12 to 40 inches (30- 101 cm) tall, with a spread of 1 to 2 feet (30-60 cm).
  • Bearded Iris produces flowers with 6 petals: 3 upright petals and 3 dropping ones, creating the illusion of a beard, which gave this plant its name.
  • Iris Germanica flowers come in various colors, including red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, brown, white, black, and pink.
  • The blooming time of Bearded Iris is in spring, from April to June. Some cultivars also rebloom in the summer and fall, producing fragrant flowers.
  • Best garden companions for irises are roses, peonies, and lilies.

Growing Bearded Iris

Caring for Bearded Iris is really easy. As mentioned above, over time, flowers in the Iris genus have learned how to adapt to various growing conditions. So, you don’t have to worry that your flower will die that easily.

Bearded Iris can survive temperature extremes. It is somehow drought-tolerant and can adapt to different light conditions. Whether you are a novice or experienced grower, caring for Bearded Irises in your home or garden shouldn’t give you a hard time.

One of the most important things to provide your Bearded Iris with is full sun. This perennial is sun-loving and requires a lot of sunlight to grow healthy and bloom during the blooming season. Although it can also adapt to partial shade, as we’ve mentioned above, it may produce fewer blooms or become more sensitive to one of the many diseases it is susceptible to. So, if possible, provide your Bearded Iris with as much sunlight as possible every day.

Another thing that you should do to ensure that your Irises are thriving is to provide them with nutrients. We recommend applying a low-nitrogen 6-10-10 fertilizer around your iris flowers in the blooming season. However, make sure you don’t apply too much fertilizer because this may lead to increased foliage but at the expense of blooms.

Pruning is also necessary. You can trim back foliage fans to about 6 inches in the fall season to make your outdoor space look tidy. Pruning is particularly essential to reducing the leaf surface area that may host various fungal diseases or caterpillar eggs. After removing foliage, do not use it as compost. Destroy it or throw it away to avoid spreading diseases to your other plants.

Iris Germanica
Iris Germanica

Planting Bearded Iris

There are a few essential things to keep in mind when planting your Bearded Irises: the time of the year, the location, the soil, and the climate in your area.

First, know that the best time to plant your Bearded Irises is from July through September if you are growing them outdoors. If you are planting your irises in containers, it’s best to plant them in spring.

Secondly, you need to choose a really sunny location if you want to enjoy the beautiful colors of your irises. These perennials love sunlight and need it to encourage blooming. So, whether you plant them in your garden or in a container, make sure that you choose a sunny spot where they can get full sun.

As for the soil, keep in mind that Bearded Iris prefers humus-rich, medium moisture but well-draining soils. This plant is susceptible to root rot, so it is essential to ensure that the soil allows good drainage. This is even more important if you plant them outdoors and you live in an area with heavy rains or snowfall.

Lastly, make sure that your area’s climate is suitable for your Bearded Irises to grow outdoors. Although these perennials are adapted to changing seasons, they can be damaged by heavy winds or hail. If your area gets a lot of that, maybe it’s best to plant your Bearded Irises in containers that you can bring indoors to protect your beautiful flowers from winds and hail.

Iris germanica collection Plants, from Amazon

Watering Bearded Iris

An essential thing to keep in mind when it comes to watering your Bearded Irises is not to overwater them. These perennials are really susceptible to root rot, and they can die if they get too much water. In fact, Bearded Irises are somehow drought-tolerant for short periods of time. So, it’s best to underwater them than to overwater them.

To make sure you don’t overwater your Bearded Irises use the “soak and dry” method. More precisely, allow the first two inches of the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Also, never let your Irises sit in soggy soil.

Propagating Bearded Iris

It’s only natural to want more Bearded Irises in your garden when these flowers bring so many beautiful colors to your outdoor space. The good news is that it is really easy to propagate Bearded Iris.

By dividing your existing irises, you’ll not only fill your garden with more plants, but it will also help your existing irises to stay healthy and vigorous.

To propagate your Bearded Irises, dig up the rhizomes in the summer, preferably in August, and then cut them apart. Ensure that each rhizome you cut has one foliage fan, and then plant them where you want a new plant.

We recommend dividing irises every three to five years to prevent iris borer infestation.

In Conclusion

Bearded Irises are a must-have in any spring garden. These colorful flowers will make your garden look so alive when they bloom, thanks to all the magical colors they have. Plus, they will fill your outdoor space with life by attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

It will be easy to care for your Bearded Irises now that you know what they need to grow healthy and happy, so all that’s left is to add them to your shopping list.

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Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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