The Different Types Of Iris

The Different Types Of Iris

large blue iris in field

In need of a flower that is easy to plant, easy to care for and even easier to enjoy? Look no further than the lovely and elegant Iris! 

The amount of variety that is held within an Iris flower is unstoppable! You’ll find an assortment of sizes ranging from short and petite to long and tall. These bulbs even have various bloom seasons. 

And, a crazy amount of different color shades that carry an eye-catching vibrance. Maybe that’s how they got the name ‘Iris’ which stems from a Greek word used to describe a rainbow.

But with all that, comes a large collection of varieties to choose from and that can be overwhelming. In fact, there are an upward of 300 species! 

The choices seem endless and-- the success in gardening is all about the choices we make! Since this infamous flower hosts so many possibilities, one is sure to find their match. 

With that being said, Nature Hills is here to guide you with ease to finding an Iris of your garden dreams. Follow along as we highlight the top Iris flower types below:


Bearded Iris

Let’s start the show off strong with one of the most commonly known types-- the Bearded Iris. You may be able to guess where it gets its name from by simply spotting one in a flower bed.  bearded iris

It’s also commonly known as the German Iris or the Flag Iris. 

Uniquely, downward-facing petals that have ruffles along the edges create a fuzzy beard-like scene. Or kids like to think the flower is sticking its tongue out at them, so don’t be alarmed if your child is doing the same back! 

Normally, 3 of these drooping petals will be present and are often called falls while the upright petals are called standards. 

These Iris plants are germanica cultivars and can be grown exclusively for any color scheme you may desire. Plant this variety in full sun or partial shade to achieve rich colors of blue, purple, yellow, pink, red, white and every shade in between. 

Gardeners love to use these as cut flowers because of their colors! Imagine waking up to a colorful arrangement on your nightstand or used as a centerpiece in the dining room. There is no room that this Iris can’t liven up. 

Be sure to remember that the Bearded Iris group also has subdivisions, which can get confusing! These include tall bearded and intermediate bearded. The only difference is the mature height at which the Iris grows. Nonetheless, you’ll still obtain those rare drooping petals. 

You can either plant them in the fall or in the spring. For the best care, they love a sunny,  well-drained soil. However, if you have clay, acidic, sandy or loamy soils-- they will tolerate that too. To encourage reblooming, we recommend removing the spent flowers. 

Come mid-spring and lasting through late summer, your garden will be graced with Bearded Irises that make your neighbors ‘Ooo’ and ‘Ahh’ over! 

Our Top Selling Bearded Irises:


Dwarf Bearded Iris

Just like the above group, but shorter! The Dwarf Bearded Irises include flowers that don’t grow as tall as their friends. In fact, this type even has a subdivision called miniature dwarfs that can grow to be less than 8 inches high.  red dwarf bearded iris flower

Basically they are little petal powerhouses that illuminate a landscape border or rock garden! What’s not to love? The best part-- Dwarf Bearded planted Irises multiply with ease and swiftness. So you can populate many areas of your yard with an investment of a few plants. 

You’ll appreciate all the variety of colors they come in so that any aesthetic of your wish is their command whether that being the main show or blended in with others. 

A pair of door-greeting containers chalked full of these Iris bulbs is a friendly sight for guests to see when visiting. Fair warning-- the several compliments can be overwhelmingly positive and never ending. 

Also a germanica cultivar, the Dwarf Bearded Iris is well known and a fan favorite!

Our Top Selling Dwarf Bearded Irises:


Louisiana Iris

The states of Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi and yes, you guessed it-- Louisiana are commonly seeing this Iris grow in the wild. Which is exactly how these flowers obtained their name.  white and purple single louisiana iris

Typically found growing near bogs, roadsides or in ditches, this bulb thrives in any low area of the garden that would retain moisture. So, if your aquatic garden or pond is missing a little splash of color, this water-loving Iris is the one for you.

They come in an array of colors thanks to their ability to inbreed among the five separate species that have now freely hybridized amongst one another to create the overall Louisiana variety. This results in colors that can’t even be found in other Iris groups!

Smooth blossoms will appear in early spring just when the soil and temperatures are beginning to warm up. And attractive, sword-like green foliage accompanies the Iris blooms too. 

Coming from the south, the Louisiana Iris prefers to stay warm. Therefore, if you’re in a zone that expects freezing temperatures, apply mulch for an extra shield. They love a nice layer of mulch after planting to prevent weed growth and buffer the soil temperatures so they can make plenty of new roots after planting.

Not to mention, the mulch will help retain water that these bulbs desire more than anything else. Be sure to frequently water to ensure consistent moisture.

Our Top Selling Louisiana Irises:


Japanese Iris

several dark purple japanese irises

The Japanese Iris isn’t as well known as its fellow friends, but gardeners who are seeking out large blooms should definitely add them to the landscape blueprints. 

They thrive in wet conditions, so don’t mess with that well-drained soil stuff. Instead, place your Japanese Irises in areas that remain damp and moist. 

This ensata cultivar shows off a combination of blues, purples, whites and more from early to mid summer. Their medium green foliage really makes the colors pop no matter where they are planted too. 

For best results come the spring season, start planting these flowers in the fall.

We know you’ll appreciate the more refined and less conspicuous petals that top the stems. In fact, this beardless Iris features huge orchid-like flowers that are a delight to see. They pair well with any flower bed garden or can stand alone in mass plantings!

Our Top Selling Japanese Irises:


Siberian Iris

We’ve highlighted previously that there are bearded Irises, but there are also beardLESS Irises too! And the Siberian variety just so happens to be a subgroup of them. What’s an Iris with no beard look like?  Purple and yellow siberian iris

Well, they lack the fuzzy, downturned ‘beards.’  However, they do still have 3 petals that grow down, while the other grow up. Instead of the foliage turning into ratty waves when done blooming, this Iris maintains elegantly waving green foliage to keep the visual interest going past the petals! Many gardeners will even use them as ornamental grass substitutes. 

To enjoy blooms come spring, plant this Iris in late summer or fall. However, if you miss out on the fall planting season, no need to fret! The Siberian Iris can be planted during the spring as well, just don’t expect blossoms that same year. 

If you have a mailbox that is feeling..bare-- plant several Siberians around the base for everlasting life. The mailman will appreciate the show. 

You’ll find these flowers to like the soil a little moist when they are first getting established as they are rarely bothered by rots or borers. Once established and healthy, water regularly when drought conditions occur. 

As a sibirica cultivar, these will bloom from spring to early summer and you’ll wish that they never would stop! Imagine creating the most beautiful border along the edge of a pool or natural pond with a Siberian Iris!

Our Top Selling Siberian Irises:

shop Nature Hills Irises

The Difference Between Rhizome vs. Bulbous

In contrast to the hundreds of species, countless colors, endless types and various heights-- there are only 2 major groupings of Irises. Those would be: Rhizome Iris or Bulbous Iris. 

It is very easy to get confused on which is which and what the difference between them is. 

Rhizome Irises grow from thick fleshy rhizomes that sprout right at the soil surface.. Seems straight forward right, but what are rhizomes? They are underground roots that grow horizontally through the soil. While doing so, they send up stalks along the way. 

Most often they resemble irregular or flattened shapes with thick stems. Rhizomes continue to grow slowly while underground, which is how the extreme propagation of some plants, such as bambook, takes place. 

Bulb Irises also go underground, but are modified buds with scale-like leaves surrounding it. They don’t grow horizontally, however. This is the key difference. You’ll notice the bulb Irises start out are globe-shaped at the root unlike the irregular shape of rhizomes. 

With all the possibilities of Irises, there is really no going wrong. Your flower garden will be easier to plant and care for, while still being diverse. 

Start finding the Iris of your dreams! Happy gardening!

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