Iris: Growing in a Container

single iris flower

Planting iris bulbs in containers is an easy way to enjoy this beautiful flower’s beauty anywhere in your home. By raising your iris in a container, you have much more control over the plant’s growing conditions. You can easily monitor the moisture and fertilizer in the soil and control how much sunlight it receives by moving the container around your home or yard.

Step 1 - Prepare a Container

Begin by preparing an appropriate container for your iris, if you’re growing a dwarf iris an eight-inch pot is sufficient. However, you will need a 12-inch pot if you’re planting the traditional tall, bearded iris. Make sure the pot has good drainage holes and fill the bottom inch of the pot with gravel to encourage even better drainage. Choose a fast-draining potting soil mix that is light but nutrient rich. The best potting soil to use is organic and equipped with time release fertilizer.

Step 2 - Plant Iris Rhizome in Container

group of blue irises

Make sure that the container you will be planting the rhizome in has thoroughly moist soil. This will cushion the transplant and make it easier for you to accurately place the rhizome. To plant the rhizome, dig two holes next to each other, leaving a ridge between the two holes. Make sure the ridge sits in the middle of the container; allowing rhizomes room to grow. To plant, rest the rhizome on the ridge and spread the roots carefully in the holes. Cover the roots and some of the rhizome with dirt leaving the top of the rhizome exposed or covered with a light dust of dirt. The rhizome should be visible if you look down on it and the leaves should be above the soil. After planting, put the container in a warm and sunny area of your yard or home.

Step 3 - Maintain Iris Health While Growing in Container

Your iris should be watered only after the top two inches of the containers soil has dried out. It is much better to underwater irises than to over water them, therefore be mindful about watering. You may fertilize your iris once every two weeks during watering using a nutrient rich liquid fertilizer. This plant is so hardy that it will probably bloom even if you forget to water or fertilize your iris for weeks on end.

Consider dividing your iris after you have let it grow in the same container for four years. Division is necessary because it keeps the plant from outgrowing its container or suffocating itself. Once your irises are divided, you can keep them in containers and raise them following the same procedure as you did with your original plant.