With their showy spring flowers, bearded iris is a mainstay in many gardens.
Bearded irises are generally low maintenance plants season after season, but over time they can become crowded and they stop producing as many blooms. When this happens, it's an indication the plant needs to be divided.
Iris grow in clumps and the root of an iris is called a rhizome. The best tool to use to dig iris rhizomesis 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 get rid of any old or diseased rhizomes. You can remove 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.
Next, 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.