Bearded iris creates a profusion of color in late spring and early fall. Fan-like foliage shoots up in early spring followed by a tall slender stem that produces several blooms. Blooms open in succession beginning at the top and working downward. Individual flowers consist of six petals---three upward petals and three petals hanging downward. Lower petals produce a fuzzy center, earning them the name of bearded iris. Heights range from tiny dwarfs of 8 inches to tall varieties that reach 3 feet or more. Traditional colors of purple and yellow are most popular. New varieties include nearly black and brilliant golden-yellow.
Deadhead blooms as soon as they fade to encourage new blooms. Snap blossoms from the stems daily as they fade quickly and shrivel overnight. Work gently, because stems snap easily.
Cut stems with a sharp knife to use iris as a cut flower. Harvest in the cool of the morning when the flower is fresh. Cut on a 45-degree angle and place stems in cool water immediately after cutting.
Prune stems back to 2 inches from the soil after irises cease blooming.