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Kelways Guide to Beardless Irises


Looking after your beardless iris

Low maintenance, fuss-free and hardy, beardless irises thrive in moisture rich soil and are ideal for damp spots, or beside a pond. Plant in full sun for a display of elegant, colourful blooms from May to July, depending on species.

  • Plant in a sunny position
  • Grow in moist soil
  • Plant anytime of the year, providing the soil is not too dry
  • Easy to grow and free flowering

Iris sibirica, Iris pseudacorus, Iris ensata, and Iris versicolor are the best-known plants in this group.

Iris sibirica 'Butter & Sugar' (Siberian Iris)

Planting beardless irises

Plant at any time of the year, providing the soil is not too dry. Prepare a planting hole at least twice as big as the pot. Add some garden compost or soil conditioner if possible. Place the plant in the hole with the soil surface at the same level as the top of the compost in the pot. Gently firm in, and water well. They can also be grown in large pots, but it is a good idea to stand the pot in a shallow tray of water during the summer.

If planting in a group, allow approximately 40-50 cm between each plant. Iris pseudacorus is exceptional in that it can be planted in shallow water, with the entire plant submerged if necessary. Iris sibirica, ensata and versicolor, are very happy in a bog garden, or even in an area that floods from time to time. However, these varieties are not aquatic plants and will not grow permanently with their roots submerged.


Feeding beardless irises

Beardless irises should be fed twice a year, in early spring and again in early autumn. A handful of general garden fertiliser around each plant is perfectly fine, and helps the plants grow, thrive and flower.


General cultivation of beardless irises

These irises are herbaceous perennials, which means the foliage dies back to the ground in winter. The old dead leaves can be cut off at ground level and new growth will resprout from ground level the following spring.

They do not generally need splitting, as clumps will increase in size and get more spectacular each year. However, if you wish to divide a plant, do so while the plant is dormant, i.e. between November and March.


Beardless Iris Care Problems

Rarely bothered by pests and disease, beardless irises are undemanding and mostly trouble-free. If you notice a decline in flowers, this could be due to a lack of sun, a lack of feed or overly dry soil.