Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Time to divide bearded iris

With their showy spring flowers, bearded iris is a mainstay in many gardens. They are generally low maintenance plants season after season, but over time they can become crowded and they stop producing as many blooms. That’s an indication they need to be divided. The time to divide iris is after they’ve bloomed, usually late June or early July. If your iris aren’t blooming like they used to or they’ve stopped blooming at all, it’s a sign they are over-crowded and it’s time to dig them up and divide them.
The best tool to use to dig iris roots – called rhizomes is to use a spading fork. Spading forks make it easy to get under and lift the rhizome without causing damage to the roots.

Once you’ve got the clump of iris out of the ground, you’ll be able to see the rhizomes clearly.

You’ll want to remove any old or diseased rhizomes. You can remove these and divide the clump with a knife or by breaking off each root with your hand.
Trim the leaves in a fan shape down to between 4" and 6". Mark the leaves with the name of the iris, so you’ll remember which one it is. When you’re planting your iris in their new location, remember that iris grow in the direction of the heel so place your rhizomes with the leaves planted in the direction you want the plant to grow. Iris will do okay in clay soils, but they thrive in soils that have been amended, so add a couple of inches of Sheep, Peat and Compost and dig in it.
Dig a shallow trench in your amended soil, add some Bone Meal and place the rhizome so that the roots are fanned out to the side, then add enough soil to just cover the rhizome and water thoroughly. Your iris will establish through the summer and fall and be ready to bloom next spring.

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