Can you grow irises in pots?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

You can definitely grow irises in pots! In fact, growing irises in containers can be a great option for those who have limited space or want to have more control over the growing conditions.

First, let’s talk about the size of the pots. For Dwarf Iris, a pot with a diameter of around 6 to 8 inches should be sufficient. On the other hand, Tall Bearded Iris, being larger plants, will require a bit more space. A pot with a diameter of about 12 inches should work well for them.

When selecting a pot, it’s important to ensure that it has good drainage. Irises, like most plants, don’t like to sit in waterlogged soil, so having drainage holes at the bottom of the pot is crucial. If your chosen pot doesn’t have any drainage holes, you can easily drill a few yourself.

Next, let’s discuss the soil mix. Irises prefer well-draining soil, so using a suitable potting mix is essential. A recommended soil mix for irises in pots is a combination of 45% fir bark, 20% pumice (or perlite), and 35% peat moss. This mixture provides good drainage while retaining enough moisture for the plants.

To plant the iris rhizomes in the pot, partially fill the container with the prepared soil mix. Place the rhizome on top of the soil, ensuring that the top is exposed. Gently spread the roots out and cover them with more soil, leaving the top of the rhizome visible. It’s important not to bury the rhizome too deep, as this can lead to rotting.

After planting, water the pot thoroughly to settle the soil and encourage root establishment. However, be careful not to overwater, as excessive moisture can also lead to root rot. Aim to keep the soil slightly moist but not soggy.

In terms of sunlight, irises generally require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive. Place the pots in a sunny spot, such as a south or west-facing balcony or patio, where they can receive adequate sunlight.

Throughout the growing season, it’s important to monitor the moisture levels in the soil. Water the pots when the top inch of soil feels dry, but avoid watering too frequently. Irises are quite drought-tolerant and prefer to dry out between waterings.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to fertilize your potted irises to ensure they receive adequate nutrients. Use a balanced fertilizer formulated for flowering plants and follow the instructions on the packaging for application rates. Fertilize every 2-3 weeks during the growing season, typically from spring to early summer.

As the irises grow, you may need to provide support for the tall varieties to prevent them from flopping over. You can use bamboo stakes or other suitable supports to keep the plants upright.

Lastly, keep an eye out for any pests or diseases that may affect your potted irises. Common issues include iris borers, aphids, and fungal diseases like leaf spot. If you notice any signs of pests or diseases, take appropriate measures to control and treat them promptly.

Growing irises in pots can be a rewarding experience as you get to enjoy their beauty up close and have more control over their growing conditions. With proper care and attention, you can successfully grow irises in containers and add a splash of color to your patio, balcony, or garden space.