Growing The Amazing Small Iris Bulbs And How To Really Succeed With Them



Iris bulbs are some of the loveliest of spring flowering bulbs.

The trick to growing them however is to follow a strict set of growing guidelines. If you break some of these rules, the bulbs will simply fade away.

This group of plants are known as the Reticulata group of bulbs and several of this group are commonly available in garden shops in the fall.

Here's how to grow them.

Growing Conditions


All the dwarf iris bulbs want a full sun location.

Plant 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart.

They want perfect drainage. No clay at all and no soil that holds moisture. I grew mine successfully on the edge of a driveway in almost pure gravel.

They want a summer dry period. While they'll take spring watering, if you water them at all in the summer time, you'll find they'll disappear/die pretty quickly. For this reason, you can't plant annuals over top of them or have them in any flower garden where they'll be watered as part of the weekly routine. So damp in spring is good - dry in the summer and damp again in the fall will mimic their native climate. There is little room for error on this unfortunately and is why you want perfect drainage.

You can collect the seed of all these plants as it germinates quite easily and quickly. it as a perennial seed

Iris danfordiae


You'll see these iris bulbs advertised heavily because of their delightful yellow flowers. This is a tough one to maintain at the best of times because after flowering it tends to break itself up into smaller non-flowering bulbs. So if you stress this one at all, it will simply break up and slowly wither away.

For this reason, many gardeners treat it as an annual bulb. Plant in the fall and take the flowering in the spring.

To succeed over several years, it is necessary to grow it in a well-drained soil (see above) but plant it approximately 8 inches or more deep. The deeper planting seems to keep it flowering.

Book cover spring bulbs

Iris reticulata


These iris bulbs are also available in garden shops in the fall and is a little easier to grow than the I. danfordiae as it will not split itself up regularly if a little stressed.

Do plant it as the general instructions above.

Do not water at all in the summer and you should get several years of bloom from this bulb.

To extend the bulb's life, feed compost in the fall.



planting bulbs
Iris reticulata 'Harmony'

Shopping Resources for this Page


Multiple sources of Iris bulbs - but note some are not bulbs but taller German iris types

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