How to Grow and Propagate Bearded Iris


A bearded iris is a perennial flower that comes in a variety of cultivars. These irises get their name from a fuzzy line that runs part way down the hanging petals and looks like a beard. These flowers come in many colors and bloom in spring. Some of the new hybrids will re-bloom in summer and fall, and many of these hybrids are sweetly fragrant. There is a type of bearded iris for every garden, from 8 inches tall to 38 inches tall. The smaller of the flowers blooms earliest in the spring. These are low maintenance flowers.

Step 1

Choose a location that receives full sun to partial afternoon shade. It is essential that the flower bed drains well. If the location is low and holds water, consider building a raised bed. Plan to plant the rhizomes between July and September.

Step 2

Work a 1 inch layer of compost or shredded pine bark into the soil to improve drainage. Do not use manure as it will burn the rhizomes.

Step 3

Dig holes slightly wider than the rhizome and between 1 and 2 inches deep, depending on the size of the rhizome. Create a small mound in the hole and drape the rhizome over it so the top actually above the soil. Fill the soil in around the roots, leaving the top exposed.

Step 4

Water the rhizome well to settle in the soil, and add more soil around the roots if it left a depression when it was watered. Irises will not survive if the rhizome is sitting in water. These plants will not need to be watered again until spring unless there is an extended dry period. Then water to keep the soil moist until flowering and during the summer for re-blooming flowers.

Step 5

Fertilize in the spring with 1/2 cup 5-10-10 fertilizer per rhizome. Apply to the soil around the rhizome and not directly on it. Re-apply after flowering for re-blooming flowers.

Step 6

Divide clumps of rhizomes in three to five years, four to six weeks after flowering. Cut the leaves back to one third their size, and dig up the rhizome.

Step 7

Wash the soil from the rhizome, and cut with a sharp knife, leaving each piece with at least one section of leaves and firm white roots. Plant the divided rhizomes as you did the original.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Garden spade
  • Garden fork
  • Compost
  • 5-10-10 fertilizer
  • Sharp knife


  • NC State University: Bearded Iris for the Home Landscape
  • Planting Flower Bulbs: How To Grow Bearded Iris
  • Old Fashioned Living: Growing and Caring for the Bearded Iris
Keywords: growing bearded irises, propagating rhizomes, planting spring flowers

About this Author

Dale DeVries is a retired realtor with 30 years of experience in almost every facet of the business. DeVries started writing in 1990 when she wrote advertising and training manuals for her real estate agents. Since retiring, she has spent the last two years writing well over a thousand articles online for Associated Content, Bright Hub and Demand Studios.