How to Plant Iris from Seeds: A Step-by-Step Guide


Welcome to our article on how to plant iris from seeds. Irises are beautiful flowers that come in a variety of colors and are easy to grow once you know how. Planting iris from seeds can be a rewarding experience, but there are a few steps to follow to ensure success. In this article, we will guide you through the process of planting irises from seeds, from preparing the soil to caring for the plants. Let’s get started!


Step 1: Choose a planting location

When choosing a location to plant your iris seeds, keep in mind that irises need plenty of sunlight to grow properly. Choose a spot that receives at least 6 hours of sun per day. The soil should be well-draining and fertile, with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0.

Step 2: Prepare the soil

The soil should be prepared before planting. Remove any weeds or debris from the area, then till the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Add organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to the soil to improve fertility and drainage.

Step 3: Sow the seeds

Sow the iris seeds in late summer or early fall, around 6 weeks before the first frost. Make shallow holes in the soil, around 1/8 inch deep, and scatter the seeds lightly over the area. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.

Step 4: Water the seeds

Water the seeds immediately after planting to help settle the soil around them. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged during the germination period. This can take up to 6 weeks, so be patient.

Step 5: Thin the seedlings

Once the seedlings have emerged, thin them out so they are spaced at least 4 inches apart. This will allow enough room for them to grow and develop properly.

Step 6: Transplant the seedlings

When the seedlings are around 2 inches tall, you can transplant them to their final planting location. Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of the seedling, then gently place the plant in the hole. Fill in the space with soil and press gently around the base of the plant to firm it in.

Step 7: Water the transplanted seedlings

Water the transplanted seedlings well, then continue to water them regularly until they become established in their new location. This can take several weeks.

Step 8: Mulch the plants

Mulching around the base of the plants can help to retain moisture and suppress weed growth. Use a layer of organic mulch such as straw or wood chips.

Step 9: Fertilize the plants

Irises benefit from regular fertilization. Use a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season.

Step 10: Deadhead the plants

Deadheading, or removing spent blooms, can help to prolong the blooming period and encourage more flowers to grow. Cut off the flower stem just below the spent bloom.

Step 11: Cut back the foliage

After the plants have finished blooming, cut back the foliage to around 6 inches above the ground. This will help to prevent disease and encourage new growth.

Step 12: Divide the plants

Irises can become crowded over time, which can lead to reduced blooming and disease. To prevent this, divide the plants every 3 to 4 years. Dig up the clump of plants and separate them into individual rhizomes. Replant them in a new location or discard any damaged or diseased ones.

Step 13: Protect the plants from pests and diseases

Irises can be susceptible to pests and diseases such as iris borers and fungal leaf spot. Monitor your plants regularly and treat any issues promptly with organic insecticides or fungicides.

Step 14: Overwinter the plants

Irises are hardy perennials that can survive the winter in most areas. Mulch around the base of the plants with a layer of straw or leaves to protect them from the cold.

Step 15: Enjoy the blooms!

Sit back and enjoy the beautiful blooms of your irises. They should continue to bloom for several weeks, providing a colorful and fragrant addition to your garden.


Each step in planting iris from seeds is crucial to the success of the project. Starting with a suitable planting location, then preparing the soil properly, can ensure that the young plants have the nutrients and drainage to thrive. Sowing the seeds is best done in the fall, when the ground is still warm enough to encourage rapid germination. Watering is important, especially in the beginning, and continuing to provide moisture when the plants are transplanted to their final location is important for growth. Mulching will help keep the soil moist and suppress weed growth. Fertilizing should be done regularly to keep the plants healthy, and deadheading will ensure continued blooming. Cutting back the foliage will remove disease and promote new growth. Protecting the plants from pests and diseases will help them thrive, and overwintering will help ensure that they return the following spring.

Tips and Tricks

1. Choose a variety of iris suited to your climate and soil type.

Different varieties of iris are adapted to different soil types and climates. Choose a variety that is well-suited to your location to ensure success.

2. Water thoroughly and deeply.

When watering your irises, be sure to water thoroughly and deeply, so that the water reaches the root zone. Shallow watering can lead to shallow roots and weak plants.

3. Plant irises in groups.

Planting irises in groups of three or more will create a more dramatic effect in your garden. Clumps of irises can also help to hold moisture and suppress weed growth.

4. Use a slow-release fertilizer.

Using a slow-release fertilizer can help ensure that your iris plants receive a steady supply of nutrients over a longer period of time.

5. Remove any dead or diseased leaves.

Removing dead or diseased leaves from your iris plants will help prevent the spread of disease and promote healthy growth.

6. Provide support for tall varieties.

Some varieties of iris can grow quite tall and may need support to prevent them from bending or breaking in the wind. Use stakes or a trellis to provide support.

7. Store iris bulbs properly.

If you need to store iris bulbs for any reason, be sure to keep them in a cool, dry, and dark location. Label the bulbs so you know what variety they are.

8. Enjoy the blooms indoors.

Cutting a few stems of your iris blooms and bringing them indoors will allow you to enjoy their beauty and fragrance even more. Just be sure to leave enough blooms on the plant so that they continue to thrive.


1. Cost-effective

One of the biggest advantages of planting iris from seeds is that it is cost-effective compared to buying pre-grown plants. A pack of iris seeds costs significantly less than a mature plant, making it a budget-friendly option.

2. Wide variety of options

Planting from seeds allows you to choose from a wider variety of color and pattern options. This is because many nurseries offer a more limited selection of pre-grown plants.

3. More control over plant growth

When planting from seeds, you have more control over how your plant grows. You can ensure it receives the proper soil and nutrients and make sure it is not exposed to any harm that it might have had if you bought a pre-grown plant.

4. Learning experience

Planting from seeds can be a great learning experience for novice gardeners. It allows you to learn about the entire process of growing plants from one stage to another.

5. Personal satisfaction

Planting iris from seeds takes time and patience, but seeing your plant grow from a tiny seed to a mature plant can be a rewarding experience and give you a sense of personal satisfaction.


1. Time-consuming

Planting iris from seeds requires a bit of patience and time to grow. It can take months for the plant to reach maturity, unlike planting from pre-grown plants, which can produce blooms within a week.

2. Risk of failure

Another disadvantage of planting from seeds is that there is always a chance of failure. Sometimes, the seeds do not grow at all, or the germination rate can be lower than expected. This can be discouraging and frustrating for novice gardeners.

3. Limited control over the plant’s traits

Unlike planting from pre-grown plants where you can get a clear picture of what the final product will look like, planting iris from seeds can sometimes result in unpredictable outcomes. This is because iris seeds can cross-pollinate, resulting in unique and different-looking plants.

4. Requires more care

A plant grown from seeds usually requires more care and attention than a pre-grown plant. This is because they are more delicate and prone to disease and pests.

5. Timing

Planting iris from seeds needs to be timed correctly. This ensures that the growing season will finish before the frost hits. Iris planted too late may not mature enough to survive the winter.


How to Plant Iris from Seeds?

Planting iris plant from seeds takes patience and careful steps. Here are some frequently asked questions about how to plant an iris from seed.

1. When should I plant iris seeds?

You should plant iris seeds in late summer or early fall, around four to six weeks before the first frost to promote extensive root growth.

2. Do I need to soak iris seeds before planting?

Yes, soak the iris seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting. Don’t leave the seeds in the water for more than two days.

3. What is the best soil for iris seeds?

Your iris seeds will prefer a soil with good drainage and pH between 6.0 and 7.0. A sandy loam soil is ideal for the seedlings.

4. How deep should I plant iris seeds?

Plant iris seeds about an inch deep, and cover the soil with mulch to keep them moist.

5. Do iris seeds need light to germinate?

No, iris seeds do not need light to germinate. Cover them with soil or mulch and keep the soil moist.

6. What is an ideal temperature for germination of iris seeds?

The ideal temperature for germination of iris seeds is between 60 and 70oF. Keep the seeds in a cool and semi-shaded place.

7. How often should I water during iris seed germination?

Avoid overwatering during the germination period and water the soil only when it’s dry to the touch. Overwatering may lead to rotting of the seeds.

8. How long does it take for iris seeds to germinate?

Iris seeds will typically take around six weeks to germinate. But the process may take up to a year in some cases.

9. How many weeks does it take for iris to bloom from seed?

The iris plant will take approximately two to three years to bloom after seed planting.

10. How should I care for iris seedlings?

After germination, keep the soil moist but not overly damp. Avoid fertilizing until the second year, and keep the soil weed-free. Water your iris seedlings when the soil becomes dry to the touch.

11. What is the best location for planting iris seedlings?

Iris plants will thrive in full sun or partial shade. Choose a well-drained area with a pH balance between 6.0 and 7.0 for the best results.

12. Should I transplant my iris seedlings?

You should transplant your iris seedlings in the second or third year when they outgrow their container. Use a fresh potting mix with compost, and water thoroughly.

13. Can I propagate my iris plants from seeds?

Yes, you can propagate your iris plants from seeds. But it’s important to note that the resulting plant may not resemble the parent plant.


In conclusion, growing iris from seeds is a rewarding experience that requires patience and attention to detail. It is essential to start with healthy seeds, sow them at the right depth and time of year, and provide adequate care as they grow. The germination process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on various factors such as temperature and soil moisture. Once the seedlings have reached a suitable size, it is time to transplant them into their permanent location, ensuring they have enough space to thrive.

In addition to regular maintenance, such as watering and fertilizing, it is also crucial to watch for pests and diseases that can harm the plants. Insects such as aphids and thrips can damage the leaves and flowers, while fungal diseases like leaf spot can cause unsightly brown spots. However, with careful monitoring and appropriate treatment, these issues can be managed effectively.

Overall, growing iris from seeds requires some effort and dedication, but the results are well worth it. Whether you are an experienced gardener or a beginner, planting iris from seeds is a satisfying and enjoyable way to grow these beautiful flowers in your own garden. With a little care and attention, you can watch as your seeds grow into vibrant, colorful blooms that will brighten up any landscape.