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Bearded Iris

Iris germanica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Iridaceae (Iris)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Bogs, fields, gardens, grassland, meadows, mountains, riverbanks, roadsides, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside, wasteland, waterside, woodland.

Blue, 6 petals
The bearded iris boasts a stunning array of flowers, each with its unique colour palette and intricate petal patterns. The blooms, shaped like a classic iris, have three upright petals known as standards and three drooping petals called falls, often adorned with the distinctive 'beard'—a fuzzy strip that adds texture and visual interest. The flower hues span the spectrum, including shades of purple, blue, yellow, white, and pink, with some varieties showcasing captivating bi-coloured patterns. The flowers open in a sequence, creating an impressive display that can last several weeks, depending on the specific type and environmental conditions. While some varieties emit a mild, pleasant fragrance, others are bred more for their visual impact, contributing to the overall charm of this beloved garden plant.
Bearded iris plants do not produce fruits in the traditional sense. Instead, they reproduce through rhizomes, thick horizontal stems that grow underground. These rhizomes give rise to new shoots and roots, allowing the plant to spread and form clumps over time. The propagation process involves dividing the rhizomes, and this method is commonly employed by gardeners to maintain the health and vitality of bearded iris populations. While bearded irises do not bear fruits in the way that fruit-bearing plants do, their stunning and vibrant flowers, with their distinctive bearded falls, are the focal point of these ornamental perennials.
The leaves of the bearded iris are characterized by their long, slender, and sword-shaped appearance. These foliage structures emerge from the base of the plant in a fan-like arrangement, creating an elegant and architectural display in the garden. The leaves are typically rigid and upright, providing a structural contrast to the delicate beauty of the iris flowers. Their green hues vary, ranging from light to dark shades, depending on the specific cultivar. The sword-like leaves not only contribute to the overall aesthetic appeal of the bearded iris but also serve a practical purpose by capturing sunlight for photosynthesis, supporting the plant's growth and blooming cycle.
The bearded iris is renowned for its subtle and often delicate fragrance, adding an olfactory dimension to its visual splendor. Certain varieties of bearded iris emit a sweet, floral scent that captivates the senses when in bloom. The fragrance, while not overpowering, can be detected especially when the blooms are warmed by the sun. The alluring aroma enhances the overall sensory experience in a garden, attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Gardeners and enthusiasts appreciate the gentle perfume of bearded iris as it mingles with the surrounding air, contributing to the plant's allure and making it a delightful addition to fragrant garden spaces.
Other Names:
German Bearded Iris, German Iris, Orris-root, Purple Flag, Tall Bearded German Iris.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Iris germanica, also known as the German Iris, is a species of flowering plant in the family Iridaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia and is commonly grown as a garden ornamental. The plant has tall, upright stems with large, showy flowers that come in a wide range of colors including blue, purple, yellow, white, and red. The flowers have three petals, called "standards", and three sepals, called "falls". Iris germanica prefers well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. The plant is easy to grow, and it can be used in borders, rock gardens, and as cut flowers. This species is also one of the most popular for hybridization, and many different cultivars have been developed, these cultivars are known as German Iris, Bearded Iris or simply Iris.


Bearded Iris, or Iris germanica, is a perennial flowering plant that belongs to the family Iridaceae. Known for its showy blooms and striking colors, Bearded Iris is a popular choice among gardeners and landscaping enthusiasts. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at this beautiful plant, its history, and how to care for it.


Bearded Iris has a long history, with some evidence suggesting it was first cultivated over 2,500 years ago in the Mediterranean region. The plant was valued for its ornamental value and was often used in gardens and as a symbol of royalty and nobility. It was also used medicinally for its anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties.

The plant was introduced to Europe in the 16th century and quickly gained popularity among gardeners. By the 19th century, hybridization had begun, leading to the development of the wide range of colors and varieties of Bearded Iris we see today.


Bearded Iris is a herbaceous perennial that grows up to three feet tall. It has long, narrow leaves that are green or bluish-green in color and grow from a rhizome. The plant produces showy blooms that are typically 3-6 inches in diameter and come in a range of colors, including blue, purple, pink, yellow, and white. The blooms have three petals, called standards, and three sepals, called falls. The falls are typically marked with a fuzzy, hair-like growth called a beard, which gives the plant its name.

Caring for Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris is a relatively low-maintenance plant, but there are a few things you can do to ensure it thrives in your garden.

Soil and Location

Bearded Iris prefers well-drained soil and a sunny location, but it can also tolerate partial shade. The plant should be planted in the fall or early spring, and the rhizomes should be placed just below the soil surface.

Watering and Fertilizing

Bearded Iris does not require frequent watering, but it should be watered deeply once a week during periods of drought. The plant should be fertilized in the spring and again after the blooms have faded.

Pruning and Dividing

Bearded Iris should be pruned in the fall after the foliage has died back. The dead leaves should be removed and the remaining foliage trimmed to about six inches in height. The plant should also be divided every three to five years to prevent overcrowding and maintain healthy growth.

In conclusion, Bearded Iris is a beautiful and low-maintenance plant that can add a splash of color and elegance to any garden. With the proper care and attention, this stunning plant will provide years of enjoyment for gardeners and admirers alike.

More Information about Bearded Irises

Bearded Iris is also known for its fragrance, which can range from subtle to strong, depending on the variety. Some people describe the scent as sweet, while others say it has a spicy or fruity aroma.

In addition to its ornamental value, Bearded Iris has also been used for medicinal purposes. The plant contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties, which have been used to treat conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, and urinary tract infections.

Bearded Iris is also a popular flower for cut arrangements and can last up to a week in a vase. To ensure the flowers last as long as possible, they should be cut in the morning before the heat of the day and placed in cool water with floral preservative.

It's worth noting that there are many different cultivars of Bearded Iris, each with its unique characteristics. Some varieties are early bloomers, while others bloom later in the season. Some have ruffled petals or multiple colors, while others have a more classic look. When choosing a Bearded Iris, consider the color, shape, and fragrance of the blooms, as well as the plant's size and growth habit.

Bearded Iris is also popular among pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, due to its bright colors and sweet nectar. Planting Bearded Iris in your garden can help attract these beneficial insects, which can help with pollination and improve the health of your garden ecosystem.

One of the unique features of Bearded Iris is its rhizome. Rhizomes are underground stems that grow horizontally and produce new shoots and roots. Bearded Iris rhizomes can be harvested and replanted to propagate new plants. This is typically done in the late summer or early fall, after the plants have finished blooming. To harvest the rhizomes, carefully dig around the plant and gently lift it out of the soil. Use a clean knife to separate the rhizomes, and replant them in a new location.

Bearded Iris is also relatively pest-resistant, but it can be susceptible to a few common diseases, such as bacterial soft rot and iris borer. To prevent these issues, avoid overwatering, and remove any infected plant material immediately. You can also use organic pesticides or beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, to control pests.

Bearded Iris can be used in a variety of garden designs and landscaping projects. It works well in mixed borders, rock gardens, and as an accent plant in a formal garden. Because it comes in a range of colors, Bearded Iris can be used to create a color scheme or add a pop of color to an existing design. It also looks stunning when planted in mass, creating a sea of color and texture.

Another way to incorporate Bearded Iris into your garden is by pairing it with other spring-blooming bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils. These bulbs will bloom before the Bearded Iris, creating a layered effect that extends the bloom time and adds visual interest.

Bearded Iris is also a popular choice for flower shows and competitions. In fact, there are several organizations dedicated to promoting and showcasing Bearded Iris, such as the American Iris Society and the Tall Bearded Iris Society. These organizations hold annual shows and events where growers can display their best blooms and compete for prizes.

Finally, Bearded Iris has cultural significance in many parts of the world. In Japan, the iris is known as hanashobu and is a symbol of courage and strength. In ancient Greece, the iris was associated with the goddess Iris and was believed to be a messenger between heaven and earth. In France, the iris is a symbol of royalty and was used to represent the French monarchy.

In conclusion, Bearded Iris is a stunning and versatile plant that can be used in a variety of garden settings and has cultural significance in many parts of the world. Whether you're a gardener, a flower enthusiast, or simply appreciate the beauty of nature, Bearded Iris is a plant that is sure to delight and inspire.

30 Bearded Iris Facts

  1. Scientific Name: Bearded Iris belongs to the genus Iris, and the most commonly cultivated species is Iris germanica.

  2. Variety: There are various types of bearded iris, including tall bearded iris, intermediate bearded iris, and miniature dwarf bearded iris.

  3. Flower Structure: The bearded iris gets its name from the distinctive "beard" or fuzzy strip on each of its falls (lower petals).

  4. Color Palette: Bearded iris flowers come in a wide array of colors, including shades of purple, blue, yellow, white, pink, and even bi-colored varieties.

  5. Blooming Season: Bearded irises typically bloom in late spring to early summer, depending on the climate and specific variety.

  6. Height: Depending on the type, bearded irises can range from a few inches to over three feet in height.

  7. Fragrance: While some bearded iris varieties are fragrant, others have little to no scent.

  8. Sun Requirements: Bearded irises thrive in full sun and well-drained soil.

  9. Hardiness: Bearded irises are hardy perennials that can tolerate a range of climates, making them popular in various regions.

  10. Watering Needs: They prefer moderate watering and should be allowed to dry out between watering sessions.

  11. Drought Tolerance: Once established, bearded irises can be relatively drought-tolerant.

  12. Soil Preferences: Well-draining soil is crucial for preventing rhizome rot, a common issue with bearded irises.

  13. Rhizome Growth: Bearded iris plants grow from thick, horizontal stems called rhizomes.

  14. Division: To maintain vigor and encourage blooming, bearded irises should be divided every few years.

  15. Companion Plants: Bearded irises pair well with other sun-loving perennials and bulbs in the garden.

  16. Insect Attraction: Bearded irises attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

  17. Foliage Type: The foliage of bearded irises is long, slender, and sword-shaped.

  18. Winter Care: In colder climates, a layer of mulch can help protect bearded iris rhizomes during winter.

  19. Deer Resistance: Bearded irises are often resistant to deer browsing due to their texture and scent.

  20. Hybridization: Many cultivars are the result of extensive hybridization efforts to create new colors and patterns.

  21. Container Gardening: Some smaller varieties of bearded irises can be grown successfully in containers.

  22. Landscaping Uses: Bearded irises are versatile and can be used in borders, rock gardens, or as standalone focal points.

  23. Longevity: With proper care, bearded iris plants can live for many years.

  24. Cut Flowers: Bearded irises make stunning cut flowers, and their blooms can last several days in a vase.

  25. Fertilization: They generally do not require excessive fertilization; a balanced fertilizer in spring is often sufficient.

  26. Pests: Bearded irises can be susceptible to iris borers, which can damage the rhizomes and foliage.

  27. Disease Resistance: Proper spacing and good air circulation can help prevent fungal diseases in bearded irises.

  28. Heritage: Bearded irises have a rich history, with some varieties dating back centuries.

  29. Symbolism: In flower language, irises symbolize wisdom, hope, and valor.

  30. Global Appeal: Bearded irises are beloved by gardeners around the world for their stunning blooms and easy cultivation.


The Bearded Iris filmed at Hightown in Lancashire on the 20th May 2023.


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Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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