Tall Bearded Iris 'Tom Johnson'


Family: Iridaceae (eye-rid-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Iris (EYE-ris) (Info)
Cultivar: Tom Johnson
Hybridized by Black
Registered or introduced: 1996
» View all varieties of Iris


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:

Unknown - Tell us

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)

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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.


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.


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

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


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


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.