Novelty Bearded Irises

This is an assorted class of bearded irises that includes unusual varieties like the beardless bearded iris. This bearded iris class also includes iris varieties that produce blooms having peculiar forms like spoons, horns or flounces.

With the improvement in the excellence of the flowers and plants of the novelty bearded irises, the popularity of this assorted iris class seems to be increasing. Hybridizers as well as growers, who are familiar with the growing interest in such non-conformist irises, are now keeping odd iris plants that emerge all of a sudden in their seedling beds and subsequently strive to enhance the feature of these novelty irises.

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The history of novelty bearded irises dates back to the 1930s when a grower detected that a number of irises in his seedling fields whose flower petals had interesting bumps on the margins. The grower who crossed them first believed them to be a result of excessive inbreeding. As people at that time were not interested in the oddball irises, he deemed these plants to be unwanted. Nevertheless, a number of other iris hybridizers took a liking for this particular characteristic of the plants and started their own breeding programs with a view to highlight as well as improve the bumps to develop a trait that is currently known as the "laced bloom". In fact, these irises with flowers having bumpy petals that were first discovered in the 1930s were used to develop cultivars with profligately laced blooms, such as "Laced Cotton" and "Grand Waltz".

In the beginning of the 20th century, some flat bearded irises produced blooms having six bearded falls, but without any standards. The Japanese iris having a flat form is one of the most popular beardless irises. In addition to the Japanese irises, the flat form is also evident in Siberian irises as well as Louisiana irises. From time to time, a bearded iris variety has metamorphosed to develop into what is currently known as a tulip-type - a flower having six standards, but no falls. Iris blooms that are described as tulip-type generally have no or very little beard.

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It is expected that iris judges will be making all possible efforts to assess the value of novelty bearded irises wisely, instead of just dismissing these plants as nature's freaks. Generally, the quality of novelty irises depend on their blooms - the better the blooms, more enhanced is the novelty iris. While the flower may appear completely different from the common iris, it should be sufficiently attractive. Apart from their bizarre form, the quality as well as the bud count of the novelty irises ought to be good. In addition, they should have firm flowering stems and robust growing patterns.

Blooms of a number of novelty bearded irises have multiple petals. These flowers often have three falls and an equal number of standards. Nevertheless, the basic outline of the flowers should be similar to other ordinary iris blooms. In addition, some novelty bearded irises have anomalous color combinations too.

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Occasionally, the unsteady color genes of novelty bearded irises may cause the plants to produce blooms having divergent  patterns of two hues - generally, one of these colors is white. However, one should be careful not to mistake the colors patterns to be those of plicata, which also have a contrasting dotted pattern on the border of the blooms. These dotted patterns may be somewhat diverse, but distinctive. The random color prototype is extremely common in camellias and roses. Similar genetic color prototype is also somewhat widespread in Japanese irises and also found in plants belonging to the bearded irises. However, it is not very common in bearded irises.

Thus far, flowers of "Joseph's Coat", an unrecorded diploid of the miniature tall bearded iris class, is the sole iris that is known to have variable coloring. Flowers of this iris variety have a color pattern that varies from a red-and-yellow variegata sort to amoena type having violet falls and white standards. The more the color of a flower contrasts, the better it is. At least this is what people who admire this bizarre cultivar have to say.

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Novelty bearded irises often produce flowers having a flat shape and with six noticeable beards as well as six falls that are displayed in pattern that varies from flat to downward arching. Although blooms of novelty irises do not have any standards, those having a flat shape sometimes come with a solitary standard. In fact, the flat-shaped novelty bearded iris especially appears attractive when its petals are particularly wide. In addition, flowers of novelty bearded irises of the flat-shaped type may also have either one or two partly regular flowers on the same flowering stems. This is considered to be an irregularity, which is not desirable, but expected. A novelty iris is considered to be of good quality when it displays the attributes of novelty bearded irises.

Iris plants having variegated foliage produce flowers that are usually not striking. However, the foliage of these iris plants may have attractive combinations of white and green or yellow and green. The best known iris plants of this type of novelty irises are the Iris pallida variegata and Iris pallida argentea. While the foliage of Iris pallida variegata is striped in green and yellow, those of Iris pallida argentea are striped in white and green. Currently, many iris breeders are engaged in developing tetraploid varieties of novelty bearded irises with variegated foliage, which will comprise the characteristic distinct substance as well as the robustness of the tetraploids.

Some of the favourite novelty bearded irises are known as "spooned", "horned", and "flounced" irises. Blooms of all these popular novelty irises come with projections growing from the ends of their respective falls' beards. In fact, the "horn" refers to a small, broad projection from the beards. This protrusion or "horn" should highlight as well as contribute some sort of cadence to the beard line. On the other hand, the "spoon" denotes a stretched out version of the protrusion which has a very wide end, often resembling a spoon. "Flounce" iris has an even larger protrusion at the beard terminal that develops following a wide, creased, and occasionally a fan-shaped or canoe-shaped growth pattern. A novelty is valued when the projections and filaments at the end of the beards having a spoon or flounce effect are sprightly as well as elegant brought in specific appeal to the general appearance of the flower. Moreover, these protrusions should also be proportionate with the blooms and should never burden or disfigure the shape of the bloom.

In addition, the extensions of the novelty bearded iris flowers ought to be the same in all the flowers of the same iris variety. In fact, a novelty iris cultivar is considered to be of a better quality when the flowers exhibit their typical characteristics on a habitual basis. With the passage of time, there is no doubt that the iris hybridizers will be successful in developing various novelty bearded iris varieties having more reliable growth as well as flowering patterns.


You can cultivate the novelty bearded irises in the same manner as you grow the plants of the iris class from which they have been derived. In case the novelty bearded iris has its origin in the class of tall bearded irises, you should grow the plants in the same way as you would grow the tall bearded irises. This is also true for other novelty bearded irises - what is important is that you should be aware of the iris line they have come from.

If you are growing novelty bearded irises, it is essential that you grow the plants in a well-drained soil and a place where they can receive full sunlight. If your garden has clay soil, you may enhance the drainage by adding coarse material to the soil and raising the planting beds.

Prior to planting a new novelty bearded iris, it is essential to immerse its rhizome in water for about an hour. At the same time, prepare the soil properly by adding superior quality garden compost. Place the rhizome in the soil in such a way that it is faced toward the sun, while the foliage is behind it. Plant the rhizomes at intervals of anything between 9 inches and 12 inches (22 cm to 30 cm) and cover the entire rhizome, except the top exposed portion, with soil. As the rhizome establishes itself, it will push above the surface of the ground. Press the soil around the rhizome to firm it and water it properly. In spring, feed the rhizome with a top dressing of any commonly used garden fertilizer, for instance Grow More. If you wish, you may apply another top dressing comprising a bone meal after the flowering season. When the rhizome has established itself and the new plant emerges, do not water the iris or feed it excessively. Remember, providing the plants with excessive fertilizers or other nutrients may promote rotting. During the plant's growing season, ensure that you get rid of all leaves that have turned brown, as this will put off leaf spot. After the bloom has withered, cut the flower stalk at its base and remove it.

Novelty iris growers should divide the clumps at least once in three, four or five years, as this will help to keep the plants robust. If the clumps are not divided the plants will discontinue flowering. The ideal time to divide the novelty iris clumps is immediately after the flowering season. However, growers can also undertake dividing the clumps well into September. While dividing the clumps, you need to try to find new rhizomes, which are light colored and feel firmer when touched. Get rid of all roots that may be old, dark colored and feel soft when touched. Cut the rhizomes into small pieces, as it will be relatively easy to plant them. Cut back the foliage to produce a fan by keeping the leaves just about 6 inches (15 cm) in length. The smaller rhizome pieces should be replanted in a new soil after adding some organic substance or fertilizer to it.

Aril and Arilbred Irises
Bearded Irises / Culture / Species
Bulbous Irises
Evansia or Crested Irises
Japanese Irises
Louisiana or Hexagona Irises
Median Irises
Miniature Dwarf Bearded Irises
Pacific Coast or California Irises
Reticulata or Dwarf Bulbous Irises
Scorpio or Juno Irises
Siberian Irises
Spuria Irises
Tripetala Irises


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