Growing irises in containers

By Margie Habraken
on June 19, 2017

Growing irises in containers

As some of us downsize and others move into their first apartment – here’s a way to take your garden with you.  What about a blast of colour on your balcony or a welcoming container of potted iris at your front door?  Iris do very well in containers and now is a great time to plant up a pot or two.

If you have tall bearded iris, you need a pot at least 30cm in size – larger if you want to pack a bit of colour in there.   Choose a good quality potting mix and put your pots in an open sunny position where they will get some winter cold.  Plants in containers need to be watered a little more often, but be careful not to overwater. 

Irises in pots will also require a little more attention than those in the garden.  It is best to dig them up and divide each year after flowering in December or January.  This is also a good time to add some all-purpose fertiliser or Seasol.

Daylilies also do well in pots – a sunny aspect will bring out their best colours, particularly if it is a light coloured daylily.

Once the flowers start to appear, move your pot to the desired position, and wait for the compliments!

Anatomy of a bearded iris

By Margie Habraken
on May 23, 2017

Anatomy of a bearded iris

When describing iris, we often talk about ‘falls’, ‘standards’ and ‘beards’.  Here is a brief explanation of these terms and a few more.

Falls are the lower three petals of the flower.  They can be adorned with veining, lines or dots and are usually narrower at the top, expanding gracefully downward.

Standards refer to the upper three petals of the flower.  They are often markedly different to the falls and ‘stand’ upright.

Anatomy of an iris

The spathe is found below the petals.  It has a papery covering around the emerging buds, and protects the ovary, turning brown as it develops.

The beard is the fluffy ‘caterpillar’ at the top of the falls, giving bearded iris their name.  They often provide a startling colour contrast to the petals of the iris.

A rhizome is a storage part consisting of a more or less horizontal underground section of the plant from which roots grow.  They are potato-like and should be planted just beneath the surface.

If you are interested, the American Iris Society has an article about the colour terms used when describing tall bearded iris – check it out here

Landscaping With Iris

By Mandy Strong
on May 08, 2017

Landscaping With Iris

Recently one of our customers has mentioned she will be using her iris purchases to under plant roses. What a great idea!

Although some sources recommend keeping the beds under roses clear, others indicate there may be some good reasons to use iris together with other perennials. Underplanting, and indeed all mixed plantings should be chosen with care, taking into account the plant's water, nutrient and light requirements.

By choosing plants with similar requirements, caring for the beds becomes simpler. Iris, like roses, requires full sun, are drought tolerant, prefer good drainage and have few fertiliser requirements. They are a great choice for under roses, and with the wide variety of colours available, many colour combinations are possible.

Perhaps the best iris to choose are the dwarf varieties as many are rebloomers which will flower in autumn and spring, complementing your roses.  They will readily multiply forming a great display and are shallow rooted, offering less competition for water and nutrients from the deeper rooted roses.

Your iris plants will also attract pollinators and may control pests – a true companion plant for your roses!

Why Aren't My Irises Flowering? - Sunshine Iris Nursery

By Elissa Strong
on April 29, 2017

Why Aren't My Irises Flowering? - Sunshine Iris Nursery

Were you impressed with your irises last Spring?

By now your bearded iris should have given you a truly delightful display, and have started to enter their period of dormancy. If your iris have not flowered well, there could be a number of reasons for this.

Iris need at least half a day of full sun, and will even do well in full sun all day.

Some of the darker flowering varieties may flower better if they are in the shade in the afternoon, but generally they are true Aussie sunbakers and love to languish in the open.

Sunshine Iris Nursery in full flower
Perhaps you may be worried about frost on your fully exposed iris but in actual fact they require frost on the rhizome to encourage blooming as well.  So please don't mulch heavily around your iris, especially in winter.
Another factor which may prevent your iris flowering, is too much fertiliser.  Iris are not big fans of nitrogen, rather preferring potassium and phosphorus.  A fertiliser containing P or K such as Dynamic Lifter or a slow release fertiliser like Osmocote, are best for irises.

Sounds like the perfect plant - full sun, not much mulch, frost hardy, low fertiliser requirements? We think so!!

Dividing Iris Plants - Sunshine Iris Nursery

By Elissa Strong
on April 11, 2017

Dividing Iris Plants - Sunshine Iris Nursery

Now is the time to divide those crowded clumps

Your iris will be happy in the ground for a number of years, but after a while you may find they are not flowering as well, so it's time to lift and divide the rhizomes. Or perhaps, as explained above, they are not in the best spot, and you have your eye on somewhere more suited.

The best time to lift iris is immediately following flowering, or in late autumn. Lifting in mid winter will not give your iris time to establish before blooming in the spring, and what flowers that do bloom will be small and late. Moving during summer is okay, but iris are not growing much during this time and you must be careful to not over water as you will cause rotting of the rhizome.

It is very easy to lift and divide your iris - simply use a spade or fork to lift the clump and break off the rhizomes, making sure each one has some root development. Replant shallowly, with just a centimeter or two of soil over the rhizome. Some advocate having the rhizome at ground level, but if you live in a very cold frosty winter climate, with long hot summers, a little soil over the rhizome will offer protection, but still get the chill and heat iris thrive on.

It is best at this time to trim the leaves so the newly planted rhizome has less leaf area to maintain while they are establishing. We trim our leaves by about a third, cutting diagonally.

The smaller dwarf varieties do not need as much of a trim, if at all. Water in, to ensure good root to soil contact, but from then water sparingly, as rot can be a problem in the rhizome. Generally iris only need watering once a week in the summer.

Iris clump ready to dig

Iris separated and trimmed

Newly planted iris

Cart Summary

Your cart is empty


  • Tall Iris Special
    Tall Iris Special
  • Median Iris Special
    Median Iris Special
  • Dwarf Mixed Iris Special
    Dwarf Mixed Iris Special
  • Daylily Special
    Daylily Special

About Us

Sunshine Iris Nursery is situated just east of the small town of Lockhart in the Riverina, Australia on the cropping property "Wargam". Bolong Far...

Read more →

From the Blog

Growing irises in containers

Growing irises in containers

June 19, 2017

As some of us downsize and others move into their first apartment – here’s a way to take your garden...

Read more →