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Last Updated: January 2018
|Types of Bearded Irises
Miniature Dwarf Bearded (MDB)
The smallest and the earliest blooming of the Bearded Irises starting late April or very early May. Up to
25cm (8 inches) tall, they make good rock garden and border plants. The stems are usually
unbranched with small, dainty flowers that are 4 to 7-1/2cm (1.6 to 3.0 inches) wide in proportion to
the overall plant. Top award is the Caparne–Welch Medal (CW).
Standard Dwarf Bearded (SDB)
These Irises grow 20 to 38 cm (8 to 15 inches) tall and bloom in Southern Ontatio during
May and occasionally into very early June. The stems are branched or unbranched, usually with 2 or more terminal buds and blooms
that are 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) wide. The leaves are erect and no taller than the bloom stalk. The
blooming season follows the MDB and ends before the peak of the Intermediates. They quickly create
generous clumps and have a wide range of colours.often not seen in other types. They do well in
borders and rock gardens and tolerate shade better then the taller plants. Top award is the Cook-Douglas Medal (CD).
Intermediate Bearded (IB)
These Irises are 41 to 70 cm (16 to 28 inches) tall and fit between the SDB and TB both in height and
bloom time. They bloom in Southern Ontario from mid-May to early June. They do well at the front of
an Iris bed and start the season early. The substantially erect stalks are branched and extend
above the foliage to display the blossoms without interference. The blooms are 9 to 13 cm
(3.5 to 5.0 inches) wide. Top Award is the Hans and Jacob Sass medal (SM).
Miniature Tall Bearded (MTB)
Charming and dainty with thin graceful stems and small delicate flowers. they are 16-25” tall, (41-
63cm) tall with blooms starting mid to late May. They are also referred to as Table Iris due to their
effectiveness in table arrangements. The stems are
slender and wiry holding blooms not more than 15 cm (6 inches) wide combined height and width. A
pleasing fragrance is especially important since they are used as cut flowers. Top Award is the
Williamson-White medal (WW).
Border Bearded (BB)
These Irises are shorter than the tall bearded at 40 to 68 cm (16 to 27 inches) but typically bloom at
the same time. They display well at the front of the bed and because of their reduced height are more
resistant to wind and rain damage making them ideal for exposed areas. The stems are
erect and branched with flowers no more than 13 cm (5 inches) wide or 22 cm (8.5 inches) combined
height and width. The blooms resemble TB’s except the flower size is proportionately smaller to
match height. Top Award is the Knowlton Medal (KM).
Tall Bearded (TB)
These are the Iris most envisioned by gardeners and artist alike. They are the showy climax
of the bearded Iris season and are 68 cm (27 inches) and over in height. They bloom in Southern Ontario
from late May to late June. Top award is the John Wister medal (JW).