Bearded Iris – Better Than The Freak Show Version

Bearded IrisThe Bearded Iris have arrived, and no, I am not talking about the main attraction in the freak show at the circus. Bearded Iris are among my most favorite flowers in the garden. As in, when I drive around town and I see a lovely color of iris growing in someone’s yard, it is the only flower that makes me consider committing a first degree misdemeanor and swiping a few. And, just for the record, I have not done it… yet

The word Iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow, which may have something to do with the fact that they come in just about any color in nature and I am willing to bet a few industrious plant breeders are working on some that come in colors that are not in nature too. I bet there would be a real market for Manic Panic Iris among the 30-something gardening crowd. You know, as a way to show our rebellious Gen-X nature without being fired for inappropriate hair color or piercings.

I am not the only one that loves Irises. If you are French, you love them like you love your country because it is the national emblem of France. Good food, good wine and a deep, patriotic appreciation for lovely flowers – tell me again why I do not currently live in France? *sigh* C’est la vie.

Irises, specifically the black iris , is also the national emblem of Jordan. Not that Jordan doesn’t seem like a nice place, but lacking the good food, and good wine (especially the wine), I am not as keen on living there.

In Japan, they are a symbol of heroes, warriors and strong men. During Tango no Sekku, the Boys’ Festival, where boys are celebrated for their courage and strength of character, the iris is prominently displayed because of its sword like leaves and boys traditionally take a bath with iris leaves on this day.

One of the nicest things about the iris is that they are absolutely a set it and forget it plant. They really only need attention every few years for division and other than that, they flower like champions.

They come in two varieties, rhizome and bulbous. (The bearded varieties are rhizomes.) Both are as easy as the other to care for. Plant them in the ground, wait till spring for bloom.

And for you really picky types (as if a world of color was not enough) they come in a huge variety of sizes. Everything for miniature to tall and sizes inbetween.

So, while they may not be as entertaining as Bearded Iris at the circus (I hear she does a pretty kinky strip show for an extra $10), irises certainly do add a spectacular display to the garden.

11 thoughts on “Bearded Iris – Better Than The Freak Show Version
  1. ind on

    My bearded iris are blooming too. This is the first year that they are giving a really good show. I planted the bed about 10 yrs ago and they were always fairly paltry, but this year it’s gorgeous. And my purple Japanese iris are jut about to bloom too. While I like almost all of the bearded iris the yellows just don’t do it for me. They always seem to look as if they are dead or are in the process of dying. I have my purple and purple/white ones planted next to lamb’s ears and I love the combination. I know a house that has a beautiful bed of iris that they planted technically on town/public property. The iris’ are gorgeous and one of these days I might ring the doorbell and ask if I could have a few rhizomes. I would even offer some of my prolific japanese iris as a plant exchange.


  2. Clair on

    Thanks for posting this, Hanna. Iris have always been my favorite flower, but this will be the first year I’ve ever planted any. I’ve ordered some Blue Suede SHoes, which should be arriving in July or so. I’m glad to hear they’re fairly easy, because the iris book I read was fairly intimidating. I’ll let you know how they turn out next spring!


  3. That is a beautiful flower! I’ve never tried planting any and I don’t know why. I’m glad to read that they are easy to plant and need little extra care. Do you plant them in the fall and how long do they bloom? I can’t wait to see a picture of the blue suede shoe one. It sounds gorgeous!


  4. Cyd on

    That was really interesting info on iris. I have a white one blooming right now and some purple and mauveish in bud. I’m glad to know others love iris too.


  5. Iris are one of my fav flowers too! Mom had tons of them when I was a child but only a few have survived my brothers mowing them down (which I never understood the whole “hate to mow around stuff so I’ll just run right over it” way of thinking, when we mowed with a PUSH mower back then and the Iris beds were HUGE! Seems like it would have been less work to mow around them!)
    I’ve managed to save a couple to place in my own yard, a beautiful purple and white tu-tone and one of those yellow/gold ones that ind refers to. I’ve spotted a beautiful bright yellow one in town and there are some of the black ones in a semi-abandoned trailer park that I’m going to have to get some starts of!

    Love your Blog, Hanna!!!!


  6. I am always looking for folks to trade irises with. Check out swap list on my blog and see if you want to trade and. I think the tubors would mail with no problems.


  7. Pam,(or Hanna or anyone else for that matter!) I would love to trade some Iris! I only have a few colors but have some to trade. I have a nice purple and white,the aformentioned yellow/gold and two that I have tons of are what I call old-fashioned-smaller than most bearded but very profuse,a bright purple and a pale yellow.
    Pam, I checked your blog but couldn’t figure out how to do the swap list you mentioned!
    So (anyone) that has plants to trade could e-mail me at
    Oh and if anyone needs some lily-of-the-valley I have a large patch that needs divided!


  8. Bearded Iris are my favorite flower, I think. Mine all bloomed a few weeks ago and, sadly, are now gone.



  9. Nancy on

    My grandmother used to call iris “flags”, as they bloomed in their full glory over Memorial Day. She’d say, “Oh, the flags are up!” I’ve never heard anyone else call them that, but it still makes me smile and of course I perpetuate the image.


  10. My mother and grandmother also called iris “flags” but I never really knew why.


  11. I grow nearly 400 different varieties ranging from miniature to tall (and all those in-between’s! ;o) Althought miniatures have all finished for the season and the medians slowly coming to an end as well, the Tall Bearded ones are in full swing and the aroma in my yard is phenominal!
    Here’s a photo of a portion of my collection:

    Here’s just a couple of my favorites:

    If in the Ottawa area, drop by and view the blooms in my backyard! (By the way, I do make them available for sale as well! LOL)
    Email me at:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge