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Photo by Great Granny Vi
There is no shortage of reasons to fall in love with Bearded Irises. They come in hundreds of stunning colors and color combinations, they grow happily in all but the hottest and coldest zones, they have a tendency to fill out their corner of the flower garden rapidly, and some of them ("rebloomers") even bloom more than once in a season. It is not surprising then, that Bearded Irises are grown, collected, and admired by millions of gardeners around the world.
Beard: The thick bushy hairs on the upper part of each of the falls. Falls: The three downward curving lower petals (sepals) of the flower. Standards: The three upward arching petals of the flower.
According to the American Iris Society, a Bearded Iris is an iris identified by thick, bushy hairs ("beards") on each of the falls (lower petals of its blossoms).
One way to ensure good drainage is to plant Bearded Irises in raised beds. Another way is to create a small mound of dirt when planting. The rhizomes should sit on the mound at ground level, allowing the roots to cascade down the sides beneath the soil. Some growers suggest covering the rhizomes very lightly with soil, while others say to leave them exposed to the sun. I'm not sure it matters. Either way, the roots should be covered completely. Space clumps 18 inches apart with all of the fans (leaves) facing the same direction.
After 3 to 5 years, your irises will be sufficiently crowded and need dividing. This can be done in the fall, or 4 to 6 weeks after flowering. Dig out clumps and wash away excess soil with a hose. Using a sharp knife, cut the rhizomes apart so that each one contains a fan and one set of healthy roots. Discard any soft or diseased rhizomes. Allow rhizomes to dry for 1 day to seal division wounds, then replant and water well until new divisions become established.
Some Bearded Irises are re-bloomers. That is they bloom twice or more in the same year. You should get the most for your money by checking before buying. Sometimes there is a special one though.