blog money-back guarantee delivery australia-wide call us on 1300 606 242

Shop By Category

Home » All Types of Irises and Their Uses

All Types of Irises and Their Uses

Irises are beloved for their delicate flowers, vibrant foliage and unique shape. Their beautiful nature has had a rich historical impact in art and culture, symbolic of faith, hope and wisdom. With a name owing its inception to the Greek goddess of rainbows, it is no surprise that irises boast a cacophony of colours and come in over 300 species. For many gardeners, irises are seen as a must-have in the garden. By understanding the various types of iris flowers, you can take full advantage of their specific characteristics to create stunning displays.


What is an Iris?

The iris is a flowering plant genus that covers a broad range of flowering plants. The overall shape and colour of the iris is dependent upon the variety. The defining characteristic of these plants are their unique petals.

An iris bloom has six petals. Half of these petals will point towards the sky and are known as standards. The three petals that hang down from the centre of the plant are called falls. 


Types of Irises

Iris Varieties

Irises can be split into two main categories based on whether they grow from a bulb or a rhizome. Rather than grouping iris varieties by colour, it can be helpful to instead consider their shape and growing conditions.


Rhizome Irises

A rhizome is an underground plant stem that produces the root and shoot systems of a plant. The most common types of iris flowers grown from a rhizome include bearded and beardless iris varieties. Generally speaking, these irises produce larger flowers than their bulb counterparts.

Webp Net Resizeimage 4 - Garden Express Australia


Bearded irises are a type of iris that is clearly defined by fuzzy hairs that sprout from the base of the falls. These hairs can match or contrast the colour of the petal. Generally speaking, most bearded irises will bloom earlier than other rhizome iris varieties. 

Bearded Iris Fair Dinkum Pkbirfdi - Garden Express Australia

Garden Uses

Due to their breathtaking flowers and sword-like foliage, bearded iris are ideal as tall accents in your garden. They prefer well-draining soil and plenty of sunlight in locations protected from strong winds or frost.



Beardless iris varieties identified by a spot of bright colour at the top of their falls called a signal. Some common types of garden beardless iris include the Louisiana and Japanese Iris. In contrast to their bearded counterparts, these irises prefer acidic and nutrient rich soil.

Garden Uses

These make great pollinators, easily attracting bees and butterflies to your garden. Japanese and Louisiana Irises both prefer moist soil, making them a terrific option for ponds and damp areas. Even if you do not have a moist area in the garden, these hardy iris varieties will thrive nearly anywhere as long as they are regularly watered.

Japanese Iris Gosan No Takara Pkjirgnt - Garden Express Australia

Japanese Iris Gosan No Takara – Garden Express Australia


Crested irises have a small raised section on their falls known as a crest. They are a shorter species that are ideal for carpeting garden beds in large groups. 

Garden Uses

Whilst less common than their bearded or beardless counterparts, crested irises are ideal for filling spaces due to their ability to quickly multiply. They are great for growing in shady positions underneath large trees where less hardy plants may not be able to.


Bulb Irises

Bulbous irises produce smaller flowers and are great for use in rock gardens or as colourful bordering plants. Many originating from Europe, they produce fragrant and vibrant flowers. The two most common types of bulb iris varieties are the Dutch and Reticulata types.



Dutch irises are a low maintenance variety that are breathtaking to behold as they bloom en masse. They can grow over 45 centimetres tall and may perennialize if planted in soil that stays hot and dry during summer. 

Initially bred in the Netherlands, these irises prefer cool climates conditions common to Victoria or Tasmania. If grown in a warmer climate, care should be taken to plant them in a well-draining spot in the garden protected from harsh afternoon sun. 

Garden Uses

Due to their height, these plants are fantastic for use in a perennial border in your garden. Their tall stems add depth and dimension, whilst their petals add an elegant splash of colour to the garden bed.

Dutch irises are also sought after by florists around the world for their sturdy stems and the extended vase life of their flowers. They are perfect for use as a cut flower, providing a burst of colour and life to your home.

Dutch Iris Miss Saigon Pkdirmsa - Garden Express Australia



Iris Reticulata, also known as the Netted Iris or Dwarf Iris, are native to Eastern Europe. They produce incredibly fragrant flowers on short stalks and have grass-like foliage. They prefer a well-draining and alkaline garden spot where they can receive full sun.

Garden Uses

For the biggest impact, plant these irises in large groups. They can easily be grown in gardens and containers, and are tolerant of cooler temperatures. As low maintenance plants, they are ideal for rockeries and patios. However, they are difficult to grow in tropical areas.

Dwarf Iris Reticulata Alida Pkireali 2019 - Garden Express Australia

Iris Reticulata Alida – Garden Express Australia

Make the Most of Iris Season

With their unique flowers and vibrant foliage, it is clear to see why irises are beloved by many around the world. The broad range in types of irises, differing so greatly in their height, shape and ideal growing conditions, means there is one for every garden need.

Take care to consider the locations where irises can breathe life into your garden and you may be rewarded with a truly unique display. Garden Express is committed to helping create dream gardens, with an extensive range of beautiful plants. Browse their types of irises online to find the perfect flower for your garden today.

Comments are closed.