Confused?? Here are some guides to assist you in choosing the perfect Irises for your garden.

Zones: In general, you can think of zones in relation to a thermometer. The lower the temperature, the lower the zone. Plant Hardiness Zones are assigned for most areas of the world. Temperatures as well as variations based on specifics of your area such as Latitude, Elevation, Mountains and hills, and local terrain are taken into account. The best way to be sure of correctly identifying your zone is to ask your local nursery.

Typically, when you read a description of an Iris, one of the first notations after the name are letters such as TB, BB, IB, SDB, MDB and MTB. These refer to the type.

Iris type: Bearded - A vigorous Iris identified by thick bushy hairs on the upper part of the falls which are the three downward curving lower petals of the flower.

  • Tall Bearded - The most popular of the Iris. 6-7" blooms are carried on 29-40" tall stems. These Iris have a branching stem habit with up to 12 blooms each and bloom throughout the season (Early, Middle and Late).
  • Border Bearded - Smaller version of the Tall Bearded, growing 16-28" tall. These bloom at the same time as Tall Bearded.
  • Intermediate Bearded - Similar to Border Bearded with 16-28" stems, but the name intermediate refers to bloom time rather than height. The bloom time overlaps the bloom time of Standard Dwarf Bearded and Tall Bearded. They will grace your garden about the same time as your tulips.
  • Standard Dwarf Bearded - 2-4" blooms on stems 8-16" tall. They bloom just after Miniature Dwarf Bearded in early spring, and would be good for edgings and in front of borders.
  • Miniature Dwarf Bearded - 2-3" flowers on stems up to 8"; they are the smallest of the Bearded Iris as well as the earliest bloomers.
  • Miniature Tall Bearded - 16-27" stems, blooming in mid to late season.

Seasons are the next notation you will see when reading Iris descriptions. The actual season depends on your geographic location, but can run from late March into June and beyond with Rebloomers.

E - Early Season Bloomer
M - Mid Season Bloomer
L - Late Season Bloomer

Characteristics: Within the types of Iris, there are specific characteristics which you may wish to select.

  • Space Ager- This Iris has Flounces (see Cloudia), Horns (see Coral Point), or Spoons (see Bugleboy Blues).
  • Rebloomer - These Iris will bloom at the normal time for their type, but will then bloom again within the season. They are also called Remontant Iris.

Descriptive Terms In reading the description of an Iris you might see one or more of these terms.
  • 4-4-4 factor - Rather than 3 standards, falls, etc, Iris with this factor have 4 standards, 4 beards, 4 falls, and 4 stylearms.
  • Beard - The thick, bushy hairs on the upper part of each of the three lower petals (also referred to as falls).
  • Branch - The lateral extension(s) of the main bloom stem that produces additional flowers.
  • Flare Fall - The falls in these Iris have an outward horizontal curve.
  • Falls - The three downward curving lower petals (sepals) of the flower.
  • Form - The structure or position of the petals that determines an Iris shape.
  • Horns - Spearlike growths that protrude upward from the ends of the beards.
  • Lace - Frilly or wavy scallops on the edges of the petal.
  • Rhizome - The thick bulb-like root that produces the stalks and leaves.
  • Ruffles - Wavy or rippling habit of the entire petal.
  • Signal - A spot pattern of a different color on the falls below the beard.
  • Spoons - Spoon-like appendages that extend from the beard.
  • Stalk - The thick stem that rises above the ground and ends in the flower.
  • Stamen - Thread-like spikes that are the pollen bearing male reproductive part of the plant and found beneath the stylearms.
  • Standards - The three upward arching petals of the flower.
  • Stigma - The part of a pistil (female reproductive part of the Iris that receives the pollen) found near the end of the stylearms..
  • Stylearms - The small, stiff segments in the center of the flower that shield the base of the falls and contain the stigma.
  • Substance - The thickness or stiffness of the petals that determine the durability of the petal.
  • Texture - The characteristic of the surface of the petals such as satiny or velvety.

Color Styles These terms describe the type of Iris according the color characteristics.

  • Amoena - Bicolor with white standards and colored falls. A reverse amoena has white falls and colored standards.
  • Bicolor - As the name implies, this Iris has 2 colors with light to medium standards and falls of a different and deeper color.
  • Bitone - The Iris has only one color, but two different tones. The falls usually have the darker tone.
  • Blend - A blend of two or more colors, one of which is usually yellow.
  • Luminata - A wash of color in the falls offset by pale, ray-like veining and characterized by an absence of color in the hafts. The edges of the petals are usually very pale, matching the veining and haft.
  • Neglecta - Blue or violet bitone with lighter standards and darker falls.
  • Plicata - Often abbreviated as plic, this Iris has a stippled or stitched margin of a darker color on the edges of the petals. The base color is usually white or yellow.
  • Self - An Iris of a single uniform color.
  • Variegata - A bicolor with yellow standards and deep reddish, brown, or purple falls.