How to grow bearded iris in Australia

How to grow bearded iris in Australia

Bearded Iris (Iris x germanica) also known as Rainbow Iris or Flag Iris is an evergreen perennial rhizome. It comes from the Iridaceae family and originated in southern and central Europe. Bearded iris has a tuft of sword-like foliage arising from the ground. In many varieties, this foliage dies down in winter, and is replaced with fresh leaves in the spring. Bearded iris are relatively easy to incorporate in amongst other perennials and don’t take up too much space in smaller gardens.

Bearded Iris grows best in the south-west of Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and will also grow in inland areas of Queensland and New South Wales and Northern Territory. Bearded Iris will not grow in Queensland, NSW coastal areas and north of Sydney.

If you have ever wondered how to grow bearded iris in Australia then look no further. A relatively simple rhizome to grow there are a few tricks to successfully growing bearded iris in Australia, but get these right and you will be laughing.

When to plant bearded iris in Australia:
The best time to plant bearded iris is in Summer to Autumn months. Bearded iris are drought tolerant plants and don’t require a lot of water. Water during Summer when they don’t get acquitted rainfall. Fertilising isn’t essential, but a light application of low nitrogen fertiliser can be applied in Autumn and Spring.

Types of bearded iris in Australia:
There are many original species as well as hybrids of bearded iris plant available. Based on the flowering height these plants are classified into three major types;

  • Dwarf Bearded Iris – Iris, which is under 40cm come under this division. They are again divided as Miniature Dwarf Bearded Iris which is under 20cm and Standard Dwarf Bearded which are 20-40cm tall with two or more terminal buds.
  • Median Bearded Iris – Iris, which is between 40-70cm come under this category. They are further divided to border Bearded, intermediate Irises and aril bred Irises depending on the growing conditions required by them. They are also known as bouquet Irises or table Irises.
  • Tall Bearded Iris – This Iris grows over 70cm and bears two or more branches and at least 7 blossoms. These Irises bloom later than other smaller varieties.

How to grow bearded iris at home:
Bearded irises are perennials that have a bulb or rhizome. These can be purchased in pots, but are often sold in bags while the plants are dormant.

  1. Choose a well drained spot in the garden that attracts full sun.
  2. Enrich the soil with some compost and soil improver before planting bearded iris.
  3. Place bearded Iris rhizomes directly where the plant is to grow ensuring that the top of the rhizome is at soil surface. Set Rhizomes at least 30 cm apart.
  4. Keep the soil nice and moist ensuring not to overwater.
  5. When flower buds appear feed every 1 to 2 weeks with liquid plant food.

How to grow bearded iris in pots:
Bearded Iris can be successfully grown in pots. If you have tall bearded iris, you need a pot at least 30cm in size – larger if you want to pack a bit of colour in there. There are also dwarf bearded iris if you are looking for something a little smaller.

  1. Choose a pot that has adequate drainage holes and place it in a position that gets full sun.
  2. Fill the pot with potting mix with added dynamic lifter.
  3. Place bearded iris bulbs directly into the pot ensuring that the top of the rhizome is at soil surface.
  4. Keep the soil nice and moist ensuring not to overwater.
  5. When flower buds appear feed every 1 to 2 weeks with a flowers liquid plant food.

Bearded iris propagation:
Bearded Irises are propagated by division. If you have a large clump, dig it up in the cooler months, when your iris is not in active growth. Wearing gloves you can use your hands to prise the clumps apart, secateurs might be needed sometimes to cut some of the rhizomes. Trim off dead or damaged roots and trim the foliage by about half before planting the separate portions. For best results plant as soon possible after collecting them.

Bearded iris care and common problems:
The common diseases that can affect Iris are fungal leaf spot, bacterial leaf blight, crown rot caused by fungi and bacterial soft rot. Providing good spacing between your plants will improve the air circulation and reduces fungal attacks. Keep a close eye for snails and slugs which will leave behind large ragged holes, chew marks on leaf edges and silvery trails on leaves or ground.

Annuals such as pansies, violas and alyssum create a lovely fill to reduce the gaps between the plants.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

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