By Josie Borlongan, Garden Guides Contributor
About Bearded Irises
Bearded irises are characterized by a "beard" along the centerline of the falls (the hanging or drooping petals), mostly flowering in the spring and early summer. Bearded irises can develop from bulbs or rhizomes.
Bearded irises are fairly easy to grow. They come in a wide variety of growing sizes, height and flower sizes. They can be used in perennial beds, borders, even rock gardens and as foundation plantings around the house.
Bearded irises bloom for several weeks ranging in varieties that flower early, early to mid-season, mid-season to late and some that are very late. They can also be re-bloomed season after season.
Bearded irises are easy to grow in fertile, well-drained soil in sun and they can tolerate partial shade and poorer soils.
Prepare the soil by mixing about 1/3 peat moss, compost or processed manure with your existing soil, resulting in a mix of 2/3 existing soil and 1/3 of organic material in the planting area.
A bearded iris' special feature is the beard for which it is named. The common flower colors are blue, yellow and white. There are certain hybridized bearded irises that come in a variety of different colors.
Choosing a Variety
Bearded irises are divided into six groups based on their bloom height and bloom time: miniature dwarf bearded (MDB); standard dwarf bearded (SDB); intermediate beaded (IB); miniature tall bearded (MTB); border bearded (BB) and tall bearded (TB). Some of these varieties re-bloom in the summer or fall, benefiting from extra fertilizers and watering in the summer.
Add a non-burning transplanting fertilizer or a rose type fertilizer with the soil mixture to encourage new growth.
Plant the rhizome so it is barely covered with soil, spacing them about 1 to 2 feet apart. Ensure that the roots of the rhizome are spread down slightly outward. The point of the rhizome should face toward the front of your flowerbed so that the blooms will show better.
Fertilize your bearded iris during springtime as new growth begins. An all-purpose rose or vegetable garden type of fertilizer can be used by sprinkling the fertilizer around the base of each clump. Dolomite lime can be added to benefit your bearded iris. Make sure not to forget to water after each application to prevent the fertilizers from burning the plants or rhizomes. Also remember to wash off any fertilizer that may have ended up on the leaves.