Growing Iris

Learn all about growing iris for cut flowers, grow as garden or container plants -Become an Irise Expert -for work, career, business or just a passion.

Course CodeVHT111
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Learn about Iris

There are many hundreds of hybrids available and new varieties being developed all the time. Their flowering period is generally not very long, but whilst they bloom they are spectacular.
Though most irises are temperate climate plants, there is great diversity within the group, and some will grow in warmer climates.

  • There are over 200 species of Iris.
  • There are species which will grow well in most temperate and sub tropical climates; and some that will grow in climates even wider than that.
  • Some will grow totally submerged in water, others will withstand extended periods of dry. Some tolerate snow and frost, some will tolerate extreme heat. Some like heavy shade, others grow well in full sun.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Classification of iris into bulbous, rhizomatous and tuberous
    • Scientific classification (into sections, sub sections, series and species)
    • Biology of iris
    • Information sources
    • Review of Iris xiphium
  2. Culture
    • Plant selection
    • Planting
    • Staking
    • Mulching
    • Watering
    • Feeding
    • Pruning, etc.
  3. Propagation and Hybridisation
    • Seed
    • Division
    • Separation
    • Tissue Culture
    • Review of selected species/hybrids.
  4. Review of Major Types of Irises
    • Bearded
    • Loisiana
    • Siberian
    • Dutch
    • English Spanish
  5. Pest and Diseases
    • Review of species from contrasting environments
    • Review of various health problems
  6. Water Irises
    • Review of species
    • Irrigation
    • Irises in Hydroponics
  7. Landscaping with Irises
    • Garden Design
    • Cottage Gardens
    • Using Colour
    • Review of more Iris species
    • Flower bed design
  8. Harvest, Post Harvest, Exhibiting and Quality

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain the taxonomy of Iris
  • Explain the normal cultural requirements for different types or Iris.
  • Breed and propagate Iris.
  • Describe the identification and culture of a range of commonly cultivated Iris.
  • Manage pest and disease problems on Iris
  • Manage water requirements for Iris
  • Discuss cultivation of Iris hydroponically
  • Explain the use of Irises in landscaping
  • Describe the production of Iris as a cut flower crop, in particular the harvest and post harvest.

Tips for Growing Bearded Iris

These include the following types of Bearded Iris (ie. Pogon)

Tall bearded iris are very hardy and will survive significant neglect; however, they perform better when given attention, catering to the changing needs throughout the annual life cycle of the plant. Flowering occurs mid spring, then foliage and rhizomes grow rapidly through the summer They like alkaline soil (add a handful of lime per sq. metre each year). Feed with a balanced fertilizer (NPK 6:10:6 is good) –avoid excessively high nitrogen. Divide and thin out clumps every 2 years (minimum)

Miniature Dwarf
Flower very early in the season; but they do need low temperatures over winter to stimulate flowering. Some varieties may need artificial chilling to get flowers. They need full sun, perfect drainage and are generally harder to grow than tall bearded iris.

Standard Dwarf
Similar to miniature dwarf. Need at least 4 to 6 weeks of frost over winter to stimulate flowering

Easier to grow in milder or warmer locations than dwarfs; otherwise,give full sun and perfect drainage.

Miniature Tall Border
Treat these similar to tall bearded iris. Generally less demanding than tall bearded iris. Have been decimated by virus disease at times.

Border Bearded Iris
Treat the same as tall bearded Iris

Arils and Arilbreds
This incorporates the Oncocyclus and Regelia Iris (and others)

These are difficult to grow. Flowers occur early spring, become dormant in summer, grow again in autumn and go dormant in winter. Moisture in soil while dormant can cause rot. Best grown in a pot where it can be kept dry when dormant.

Treat similar to oncyclus, but these iris are less temperamental to grow.


  • Reputation: well-known and respected in horticulture
  • Industry focus: courses designed to suit industry needs and expectations
  • Different focus: develop problem solving skills that make you stand out from others
  • Hands on: develop practical as well as theoretical skills
  • Lots of help: dedicated and knowledgeable tutors (Faculty of internationally renowned horticulturists)
  • Efficient: prompt responses to your questions
  • Reliable: established in 1979, independent school with a solid history
  • Up to date: courses under constant review
  • Resources:  huge wealth of constantly developing intellectual property
  • Value: courses compare very favourably on a cost per study hour basis
  • Student amenities: online student room, bookshop, ebooks, acs garden online resources.

Who this Course Benefits

  • Nurserymen
  • Landscapers
  • Florists
  • Cut Flower farmers
  • Gardeners
  • Horticulture Professionals
  • Amateur plant enthusiasts

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Maggi Brown

Maggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture
Diana Cole

B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C. In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild
Yvonne Sharpe

RHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has
John Mason

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.
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