Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tall Bearded Iris
Iris 'Tom Johnson'

Family: Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Iris (EYE-ris) (Info)
Cultivar: Tom Johnson
Hybridized by Black; Year of Registration or Introduction: 1996

» View all varieties of Iris

5 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tall Bearded (TB)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Dark Purple/Black

Bloom Time:
Early (E)


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Awards (if applicable):
Honorable Mention
Award of Merit
John C. Wister Memorial Medal (TB)

Click thumbnail
to view:

By puttytat
Thumbnail #1 of Iris  by puttytat

By Margiempv
Thumbnail #2 of Iris  by Margiempv

By MikenMyrtle
Thumbnail #3 of Iris  by MikenMyrtle

By Joan
Thumbnail #4 of Iris  by Joan

By Tntigger
Thumbnail #5 of Iris  by Tntigger

Thumbnail #6 of Iris  by TBGDN

Thumbnail #7 of Iris  by TBGDN

There are a total of 12 photos.
Click here to view them all!


3 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive QHBarbie On May 1, 2013, QHBarbie from Westville, FL wrote:

Very unique bloom--outstanding color and smaller bloom size (and different form) than most tall bearded irises. Very high bud count.

Positive TBGDN On May 16, 2007, TBGDN from (Zone 5a) wrote:

I've admired this iris for years since its introduction in 1996. With this said I've never seen two pictures alike of it depicting a standard set of colors. From my own personal experience the colors photograph differently in different lighting conditions. Morning sunlight portrays the "blue" part of the color spectrum, while intense sunlight increases its "red" spectrum properties. And many photos fail to capture what I see as a definitely black color of the central fall edged by the same color as the standards. No matter my opinion, it is indeed a stunning iris! And I feel unless one is a professional photographer (or at least an experienced one), it is best NOT to try software touchups with the colors! Simply accept what the camera lens portrays.

Neutral mystic On Dec 28, 2006, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Received the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), 2006 Award of Garden Merit.

Neutral Joan On Dec 16, 2005, Joan from Belfield, ND (Zone 4a) wrote:

Awards: American Iris Society Honorable Mention '98, Award of Merit '00, John C. Wister Medal '03; Dyke's Memorial Medal Runner Up 2006

Positive MikenMyrtle On May 13, 2005, MikenMyrtle from Myrtle Beach, SC wrote:

Tom Johnson is stunning. I would recommend it most highly.
Here it is an early bloomer with many stalks, with many, many flowers. Of about 25 different varieties that were planted the same year, it is one of the top two performers of that group.

I agree that this color is very hard to capture in photos for some reason, but the flowers most definitely command full attention when viewed live.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Phoenix, Arizona
Bakersfield, California
Westville, Florida
Macy, Indiana
Oskaloosa, Kansas
Shepherd, Montana
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Greeneville, Tennessee
Portsmouth, Virginia
Valley, Washington

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