For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens

Saving Overgrown Iris

105 Comments

Nature happens....

Nature happens….

Let’s say a friend told you about this patch of once-lovely Iris which has become completely engulfed by grass… (or maybe that friend is you…) You tell your “friend” that her situation reminds you of something you once read by Sara Stein*: “I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border. I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error.”

July, August and, in some areas, September, is the time to assess the situation in your Bearded Iris garden, and rectify the misunderstanding you might have with Nature. If it’s been a few years (say three to five) since you planted your Iris, it is likely that the clusters have grown, and over-grown, themselves into a large mass of rhizomes 12 to 24 inches wide. If you are (or know of) that friend described above, fear not. If you see foliage above the blanket of grass, the Iris can be saved! Read on.

Before you reach for the shovel, though, let’s review some tips on dividing and transplanting the new Iris babies.

Iris Identity: If you have your Iris labeled, you will want to label all of its babies. Prepare tags of some sort to help you keep track of what you are transplanting and where. If you haven’t labeled the Iris in your garden, then proceed unfettered by the bondage of labels….

Digging the clumps: Depending on how densely packed the Iris clump is, you may wish to dig up the entire mass and work on it out of the ground. In the case of the clumps overgrown with grass, you’re best bet is to dig up the whole shebang. Carefully pull the soil and grass away from the rhizomes and roots so that you can see what you’re dealing with. Take care to remove as many of the grass roots as possible. Once cleaned up, you will likely find that the mass of Iris resembles a tangle of fresh ginger, or small oblong potatoes, some of which will have fresh green foliage attached.

bearded iris|growing iris

New growth on left and right of spent rhizome

Separating the plants: The rhizomes with the foliage are the plants you will keep. Any rhizome which has no foliage is “spent”, and will not bloom again. It can be discarded. At this point, you can decide how many of these new plants you’d like to replant. Some of the new growth may yet be quite small, the size of a cherry. These are called “nubs”, and will have tiny green leaves. You can plant these, but expect possibly two years at least before you see any blooms.

To separate, carefully snap or slice the rhizomes at the junction between the old plant and the new growth. Take care to disentangle the roots so that the new plants retain their set of roots.

Cut or break off new growth from original rhizome

Cut or break off new growth from original rhizome

If the foliage on the new plant is very tall, you can trim it back to 6 inches to make transplanting easier.

Prepare soil for transplants: For the area where you intend to plant the new growth, dig up the soil 6 to 12 inches deep, remove weed sprouts, mix in some organic mulch or a low-nitrogen fertilizer (follow manufacturer’s recommendations for quantity and ratio) to give the soil a nutritional boost. Break up large clumps of soil and smooth out the area. Plant your new iris so that the roots are covered but the top of the rhizome is showing above the surface of the soil.

Water in: Water at the time of transplanting. Newly set plants need moisture to help their root systems become established. Specific watering requirements depend on your climate and soil, but keep in mind that deep watering at long intervals is better than more frequent, shallow watering. Once established, Iris normally don’t need to be watered except in arid areas. It is always better to underwater than over water. Too much water can induce rot.

What to do if you have more Iris shoots than you know what to do with: Consider donating the extra plants (labeled or unlabeled) to a nursing home, school, or community center in your area. You can also check with your neighbors to see if they’d like any of the offspring.

Getting ready to divide your Iris? Tell us what you do with the extras. We’d love to read your comments.

*Sara Stein, influential advocate for gardening with native plants, and author of “Noah’s Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Backyards” (Houghton Mifflin, 1993).

Author: Schreiner's Iris Gardens

Dedicated to growing and selling the finest Iris in the world.

105 thoughts on “Saving Overgrown Iris

  1. How quickly do you have to replant Iris rhizomes that have been dug up and divided and how do you treat them. can they be stored in a cool, dark place? i live in maryland north of Washington DC

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    • We suggest planting rhizomes within two weeks of removal from the ground. You can store them in a cool, dry place. The important thing is to keep them dry to prevent rot. It is natural for the foliage to turn brown and become brittle when the rhizomes are out of the ground for a few weeks. If the rhizome is firm, then the plant is healthy. After you replant them, water them in very well. We recommend a deep watering for newly planted iris once every 10 days to two weeks, unless you have rain showers during that time. Let us know if you would like more information. Thank you for sharing your question with us!

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  2. My father is in his mid 90’s so I have taken many of his iris plus some that previously belonged to my grandmother. Most of my parents iris actually came from Schreiner’s originally and they are so beautiful! I will be moving in the very early spring, (late March maybe) 2018 and do NOT want to leave my iris behind. Can I dig them this fall and then store them? They may not get planted until late June, 2018. How long will they keep if they aren’t in the ground? I live in Nebraska where the winters can be cold and spring may come late. Thank you for your help!

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    • Thank you for writing, Jane. While we do not recommend that you store them out of the ground, we can recommend that you transplant them in the fall into gallon or half-gallon pots in a nutritious potting soil (or just garden soil). Avoid any potting soil high in Nitrogen, however. Store them outdoors up against the house or on a patio. They do need the exposure to the cold during the winter months. It is best to keep them in soil rather than storing them in paper. Then next June or early July, you can transplant them into your new garden home. Let us know if you have any further questions. Best of luck to you. Kind regards.

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  3. My husband drove our SUV into the yard so he wouldn’t have to haul bags of mulch to the back. Well, when he drove back out to the front, I walked along the trial and saw that he drove over my hostas, brunneras, etc. etc. What got me he drove over irises I had transplanted years ago from my mom’s yard. They are sheared off. Would you know if they will come back next year if I don’t touch them? I know the rhizomes need the leaves to obtain nourishment. Will they come back…help!

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    • Oh dear! Many of us have had experience with our good-intentioned significant others, or hired help, unintentionally shearing off the foliage of our beloved Iris. The good news is that the Iris are tough. Leave them as they are, give them a dose of low-nitrogen fertilizer next spring when the tulips are blooming in your neighborhood, and chances are very good they will at least put up new foliage next spring. You might even get some blooms too. Breath deeply. Kind regards.

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  4. When do you try to save the over grown breaded irises? I just bought house and through the tall grass I see breaded irises. Do I let them bloom and not worry until fall? Or do I try to do something now? It is almost June and some of th irises have started to bloom. I live in the pacific northwest

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    • Excellent question! You have a good sense of the proper sequence of steps for saving the overgrown iris. Yes, let the Iris go through their bloom cycle. Come late June or early July, you can begin the process of digging up the bed, pulling out the grasses and weeds, and rescuing the new rhizome shoots for replanting. You may also want to take that opportunity (of bare ground) to supplement the soil. Perhaps do a quick soil test to see what might be needed. Or simply churn in to the top 12 inches a nutritious organic layer. Then replant the Iris. Let us know if you have any further questions. Thank you for reading and for posting your question.

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  5. This may seem a strange comment, but I have a lot of people around who have too many irises. Yards of older houses around here grow up in old varieties and I help people refresh the beds. Bushels of rhizomes with no home. But I have a neighbor who raises goats, and they love to eat them. At least that does not feel completely wasteful- goat treats?

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  6. Six weeks ago I dug up my iris bed, divided, soaked in bleach water and sun dried. I stored them in a brown paper grocery bag in the basement and now I’d like to replant them. My question is, Do I need to soak them in water before planting?

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    • First and foremost, if you are less than 6 weeks away from your first hard frost, we do not recommend planting. The rhizomes would not likely survive the winter. If you are planting in a milder area, without the threat of a hard frost on the horizon, we say to plant. You do not need to soak the rhizomes before planting. When you plant, add a low-nitrogen fertilizer or bone meal in the whole. Water in well at the time of planting. If no rain is in the forecast, water the rhizomes well in 7 to 10 day intervals, until you can feel that they have established themselves (they remain firmly in place with a gentle tug). Very little water is needed after that point. Feel free to contact us with further questions. Happy Autumn!

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      • I just received some iris rhizomes that I ordered online. I am concerned that it is too close to frost to plant them in the yard. I am considering putting them in pots? In the garage? or next to the house under the deck?
        What is the best way to try to save them?
        They are very dry – should I soak them in water first?

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      • Thank you for the question. Generally speaking, we recommend that Bearded Iris be planted a minimum of 6 weeks prior to the first hard frost in your area. The reason we recommend this time frame is to allow the Iris to become established prior to going into dormancy for the winter. You might try planting them in pots, but do keep them outside, as opposed to keeping them in the garage. Avoid potting soil which is too rich in Nitrogen. Keep the pots up against a building, as you suggest. Water them in well after planting, and in intervals of once per week (unless they are exposed to sufficient rain). You can cease watering after a few weeks, or until the roots feel established (give the top of the foliage a gentle tug). Then let nature do its work. Feel free to contact us for more information. Kind regards.

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  7. I just moved into a new house and there is a huge iris garden along the house! However, it has not been kept and is a mess of weeds and crowded iris plants. It is mid October in Kansas; what should I do now to clean up this area in preparation for winter?

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  8. How harmful is it to have the rhizomes covered with an inch or so of sandy soil? I swear they dig themselves back in after I dig them out a bit. This is getting old! These are a few I bought from you and a large number from a very overgrown bed I have replanted.

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    • That’s a great question. The winds and rains, and natural heaving/movement of the ground, can push the soil around the tops of the rhizomes. You’ll want to watch for signs of rot. Being covered can sometimes lead to rhizome rot if the material which covers the rhizomes retains too much moisture. The sandy soil likely drains very well, so perhaps you will not see a problem. It’s a good idea, though, to keep an eye out for rot and treat accordingly should you find any. Also, have you seen a reduction in bloom on these plants? If so, the covered rhizomes may be a contributing factor. Depending on your location, the extra sandy soil would provide a good winter protection. Generally speaking, we recommend that the top of the rhizome be exposed. If you are not seeing an adverse impact (as described above), then continue to monitor whenever you’re out in the garden. Thank you for the question. Kind regards.

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  9. I plan to sell some irises of several varieties next May at our local gardening club expo and sale. I want to divide the ones I have growing now, plus some of my neighbors very unusual colors, and put them in 8-10″ pots. I am hoping that they will be in bloom when the sale occurs in the second week of May. Is this a realistic expectation? How do I overwinter the pots with the plants in them? Thanks very much.

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    • Hello, and thank you for writing. If you have extremely cold winters, you will need to protect the pots from freezing. Here in the Willamette Valley, we have milder winters and leave our pots outside. If we do get freezes, we throw a cover over them just for the very cold spell. Then we remove the cover once the freezing spell has passed. Once the rhizomes have been potted up, water them really well, then water approximately once a month (unless they look like they need water sooner). In the fall and winter, we typically get sufficient rain so as not to need to provide any hand watering to our pots. As far as whether you’ll have bloom next spring, that’s hard to say. If the plants are big when you pot them, then they should have a good shot for bloom. If the plants are small, then they will need to grow big enough for bloom. They may not get bloom the first season after potting them up. Just depends on the maturity of the plant. We hope this information was helpful. Let us know if you have any further questions.

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  10. Given iris that just finished blooming. Will be cleaning, dividing, etc. Would like to not plant until next year at a different location–maybe 10-12 months from now. If so, how/where do I keep them. If not, I will need to plant now and move next year which means I probably won’t have blooms for a couple years–really don’t want to wait that long.

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    • Hello and thank you for the message. If you can leave the Iris in the ground, where they are now, until next summer, that would be the ideal situation for the Iris. If it is not an ideal situation for you, then you can transplant them into pots in a good, organic potting soil (plant them just as you would if they were going into the ground, i.e., shallow, good drainage, full sun). Avoid a Miracle Gro potting soil, as this can be too rich for Iris. Then next year, when you are ready to move them, you can put them where you want, either in the spring or summer (taking care to transplant the whole root ball, soil and all). If you choose to put them in the pots first, water in well when first transplanted into the pots, then water again when the top inch or so of soil is dry. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

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  11. We were given some iris plants that were from a friend who had thinned them out. They are in pots covered lightly with soil and being kept moist. How long do we have until we need to plant them, as we have to till up some hard clay and add soil conditioners and can not do this for 3 more day when we can rent the equipment. It is June 3rd in NW Georgia, can I chose to winterize, store and let them dry out and go dormant and plant next Spring ? I have never had Irises, only tulips and daffodills. Need advice

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    • Hello, and thank you for contacting us. The Iris will be happiest if they are in well-drained soil and not allowed to remain moist for too long. The top of the rhizome (the root that looks like a large piece of raw ginger) should be visible above the level of the soil. They will be fine in the pots until summer. We recommend planting in July, August or September. Perhaps get them in the ground on a cool morning during the summer months. Plant them as described above, 12 to 18 inches apart, in a location which receives 6 to 8 hours of direct sun each day. We recommend a light application of a low-nitrogen fertilizer, or bone meal, at the time of planting. Feel free to contact us with further Iris care questions. You are also invited to visit our “How to Grow Iris” pages on our website for more information: http://www.schreinersgardens.com/how-to-grow-and-care-for-iris. Best regards!

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  12. Hello. I love this site, and all of your advice, and am now faced with a question I hope you will answer. I live in the Napa Valley. Very hot, dry days, cool nights. Drought, usually, but we had some water this winter, so it’s a good spring to plant. Here’s the question. Yesterday, my gardener put about 4″ of compost (light, aromatic, beautiful) on the iris gardens to help hold moisture and protect from the sun.

    The height of the compost is now about 4″ above the rhysomes. Is this OK? Should I dig the irises out and replant? Should I dig awai the compost around the bases of the irises?

    Thank you for your answer, and for a wonderful resource and catalogue!

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    • Hello, and thank you for writing. Yes, you should definitely free the Iris from the mulch. The bearded Iris rhizomes prefer to be exposed above the surface of the soil. For the time being, you could simply brush away the mulch to expose the tops of the rhizomes. This summer (July, August, September) you can transplant the Iris so that they are planted properly. Be sure to transplant them at least 6 weeks before the first frost. Please visit our “how to grow iris” pages for more details: http://www.schreinersgardens.com/how-to-grow-and-care-for-iris

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  13. Hi, I live in northern nv. My gramz had tons of irises. I divided some a few years ago and they are great. However I have a 4×5 ft area in my back yard of irises. They haven’t been divided in 10 or more years. Our weather is 60 during the day 30 at night. Can I divide them now or wait till july? It’s very hot June July and August, 100 plus degrees. Also if not potting or garden soil, which kind do I get?

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    • Hello. Thank you for the question. The natural time to divide bearded Iris is during their dormant phase in July, August and September. When planting or transplanting Iris, keep in mind that they must be in the ground at least 6 weeks before the first frost. Considering this requirement, perhaps you would be able to divide and transplant in September when the temps cool down a bit. You will want to check your resources for information on when the first frost is anticipated in your area. As for soil, we recommend a nutritious garden soil. We do not recommend a Miracle Gro product, only because those tend to have high levels of nitrogen. High levels of nitrogen are not compatible with bearded Iris. Look for an organic garden soil, which contains organic matter. Your local garden center will likely carry something like this either in bags or in bulk quantities. Feel free to contact us again if you have further questions. Happy Gardening!

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  14. I have neglected my iris bed till now, April2nd, and it is in TERRIBLE condition and is right beside the entrance to my house. Can i dig up, clean out the bed separate, and replant now? I live in North Georgia, USA. The iris are some that have been in my family for over 100 years and I am sad that I have let them get in such bad shape. No blooms this year :(.

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    • Despite the current appearance of the bed, we recommend allowing the Iris to go through their natural growth cycle. Dig, divide, clean and replant the healthy rhizomes in late June/early July, heat and weather permitting. You might consider amending the soil, as well, before replanting. Add good soil. Avoid any potting or bedding soils which are high in Nitrogen. Add a low-Nitrogen fertilizer at the time of replanting. Plant rhizomes 12 to 18 inches apart. Water in well. Let us know how it goes! Read our “How to Grow & Care for Iris” pages (specifically Diving and Transplanting): http://www.schreinersgardens.com/how-to-grow-care-for-bearded-iris

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  15. I have three beds of different Iris , tare and they are the crown jewel. This year I have been experimenting with adding diluted epsom salt water, It is about two tablespoons per gallon. The magnesium is helpful in root growth. So far the green foliage looks great. Hope the flowers sprouts are an equal success.

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  16. I have an iris bed that does not seem to produce many blooms. Right now the fans are only about 6″ high. What do you do? I thinned them out about 5 or 6 yrs ago. I have never fertilized them. Also I do have a week problem in my bed. How do I get rid of all the grass and weeds? I have hand pulled weeds, but is there a better, easier way?

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    • You might consider applying a low-nitrogen fertilizer now. As for the weeds, hand pulling is really the best, most effective method. Grass-Be-Gone can be an effective spray, and is safe around Iris. Follow manufacturer’s instructions closely. You might also consider thinning the Iris clumps again this summer. Replant only the live rhizomes, discard any spent rhizomes. That would also be a good time to really get the weed and grass roots out of the bed. Really clean up the soil before replanting the Iris. Come back and let us know how your Iris garden is doing.

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  17. Most sites I’ve visited advise throwing away the ‘mother’ plant. I understand that it won’t bloom again. However, can it be planted to grow more offsets?

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    • Hello! Apologies for the delay in responding. Yes, the original Iris plant will not bloom again, nor will it produce more nubs (or “offsets”). It can be discarded, particularly at the time of dividing. It serves as an anchor for newly developed rhizomes, but it is not necessary to keep it in the clump.

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  18. We’ve had unusually warm weather and dug up our overgrown irises last weekend…now after doing more reading, we realize the timing is not good for replanting. Should we store them over the winter and plant next spring, or go ahead and get them back in the ground? Neither option seems like it’s a good idea…
    Thanks for your help!

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    • As you mentioned, the weather has been unusually warm. Go ahead and replant the Iris so that they can begin their root development. If a hard freeze is forecast, be sure to protect them in some way (straw, evergreen branches, mounded soil, etc.) Let us know how they survive. It is possible that spring bloom will be adversely affected, but you will likely have new rhizome development and new foliage. Fertilize as recommended in the spring (about the time the tulips are blooming in your neighborhood). Happy New Year!

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  19. I have an overgrown and non-producing iris bed that I am transplanting.. I have two questions… lots of the offshoots are very small… will it require years for them to flower? Secondly I am running into what looks like white bulbs attached to the iris roots… some of them have roots of their own growing out of them. What are these? I know what to do with the iris rhizomes but not with these bulb-like things.

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    • Hello and thank you for the questions. We believe that the bulb-like attachments you see attached to the Iris roots are likely a bulbous species of “weed” (for lack of a technical term), such as wild onion. You can simply pull them off the Iris roots and discard. Once your new Iris bed is prepared, plant the Iris as you had planned. Some of the smaller “nubs” may take an additional year to bloom. Keep us posted on the progress of your rescued Iris bed!

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  20. I am digging my Iris after 5 years, no weeds, we have clay soil and I find I have Iris borer in the bulbs which I am discarding. I have been advised to soak the good bulbs in Clorox water for a bit before planting. Is this a good idea to kill any worms? How do I amend my soil before planting? Does Grub worm insecticide kill the Iris worm also? If so, how long before I can plant in the same bed?

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    • Hello. Thank you for writing. I would like to direct you to our “How to Grow & Care for Iris” pages. There you will find information on treating infected plants and soil. There is also new research supporting another organic method to combat Iris Borers — nematodes! If you visit the above referenced page, you will find a link to an article describing this new approach in more detail. I am not able to answer the questions regarding grub worm insecticide and the resulting condition of your soil. As is true in general with gardening, catching the problem early and executing a selected treatment at the appropriate time is essential. I would suggest reading up on the subject, but perhaps the application of nematodes per a supplier’s instructions could be the solution to your problem this summer. Best of luck.

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  21. My irises are just about finished blooming. I want to sell some of my unusual colors next spring at a local flower show. When is it a good time to dig up, divide and then put into pots my irises? Will they bloom next spring while in the pots? Thank you.

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    • Hello and thank you for writing. We recommend digging and dividing Tall Bearded Iris in July and August. At that time you could transplant the rhizomes into pots. We caution against using any potting soil which is high in Nitrogen. There is no guarantee that the potted Iris will bloom next spring. Some Iris take a second season to mature to the point of creating a bloom stalk. It depends greatly on the variety. If they are able to bloom the first spring after transplant, then yes they will bloom in the pots.

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  22. We’ve been iris collectors for about 20 years now, In fact, throughout our travels and residences across the US, from AR to UT to KY and now forever in MO, we’ve bought many different varieties and colors, rescued wild irises from roadsides, dug up (2 black garbage bags full of) old fashioned yellow irises from my grandmother’s old abandoned farmstead (those I remember from when I was a toddler being in a small plot just outside her back door. When we visited the farmstead some 45 years later, they’d engulfed the entire side yard and had started growing down the fence line of the pasture.) We’ve traded, begged for and as one neighbor put it, permanently borrowed irises from friends and family. The other day in fact, we had talked with a farmer down the road about buying a calf and I spied a ditch full of old timey purple and yellow irises, remarked how pretty they were, and about our iris gardens. He told me to go dig them out because he was going to put up new fencing and they’d all be plowed under. You know, it doesn’t take twice to be given permission and even being hard of hearing, that statement from him, well, I didn’t miss a word of it. We came back with a shovel and plastic bags and I imagine we must have dug up close to 300 tubers, if not more. Most of them are planted, I still have some to put in, but iris tubers are forgiving if they aren’t planted immediately. We’re just hoping the rain will stop long enough today for me to get outside long enough to extend one of the iris beds and get them in the soil.

    Those that we have now, probably close to 1000 tubers are planted everywhere on the farm. We’re currently lining our driveway border with them, have them in the herb garden, up close to the house in a sitting garden, alongside the deck, and out by my workshop in raised bed gardens, It’s like an addiction. There are never enough colors or varieties.

    You mentioned labeling the varieties. I’ve never done that. So now, where do I start? There are so many colors, and sizes, and shapes that I don’t know where to begin. What do you suggest?

    Candy

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    • Let me start by thanking you for sharing your very impressive story with us and our readers. Your passion for the beauty Iris bring to the garden is evident. As for labeling the varieties you currently have on your property, our suggestion is simply to enjoy their beauty without labels. Perhaps future additions to your collection could receive a label of either the hybrid name, or the source and date of your acquisition if name is unknown. We applaud your passion for supplying a home to the Iris and we encourage you to continue to enjoy the beauty they bring to your life.

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    • Wow! I can’t believe you have so many! I planted 3 bulbs 3 years ago. I dug them today because I only had a few blooms this year. They are spectacular and I just love them so much. I had about 15 to spread around my very tiny garden. You are lucky & must have a ton of energy!

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  23. I am a VERY amateur gardener, and our garden is overgrown with Iris’s. I would love to keep them, but they are so overgrown that I’m afraid I’ve killed them all! We moved into our home about 3 years ago, and this whole time I’ve been pregnant or had very young babies, so I have neglected the yard for a long long time. Right now though, it is 60’s in December and I’ve got time. Is it okay to wait until spring before I start the thinning process, or can I do it now? If the bulbs are dug out of the ground, how long will they keep before they need to be replanted? I would love to get a head start, but I don’t want to destroy them 😛 Thanks so much for your time!

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    • Hello. Thank you for the comment. The general rule of thumb is to not disturb Iris in the middle of their winter dormancy. If there is any risk of a sudden drop in temperatures down to freezing, we advise against transplanting the Iris during the winter so as to avoid losing your whole crop. Your options are to wait until spring, with the risk of losing the blossom for the year; or waiting until summer, the traditional and most advisable season for transplanting Iris. When ever you choose to proceed, dig up the entire overgrown area, pull away the grass and weeds from the roots, discard spent rhizomes, clean the bed, perhaps amend the soil with rich organic content, and replant the biggest rhizomes in a nice arrangement – leaving a minimum of 12 inches between rhizomes. Water in well, then leave alone. The following spring, you will likely have lovely blooms. Patience pays off. As for how long the rhizomes can be out of the ground during your clean-up, they should be OK stored in a dry location for a week or so before going back into the ground. For more information on caring for Bearded Iris, visit our “How To Grow Iris” pages: http://www.schreinersgardens.com/home/scg/smartlist_310

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  24. Reblogged this on For the Love of Iris and commented:

    In case you missed this post the first time around, we are posting it again for all gardeners in mind, body and intent… It’s as good a time as any to rescue those Iris!

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  25. I really love iris .One day, I’m coming over to the USA to see your wonderful gardens.I have over a 100 different varieties of iris and I have a few ,which were hybridised by Schreiners . They aren’t always available in the UK.I think that they have a characteristic unique style and look . I collect old iris from neglected gardens and recently dug up a great clump -so far about a dozen people have enjoyed the free plants and my mother has an entire flowerbed of them .When I separated this great mound(the most contorted that I’ve ever seen ) I threw the old shrivelled /dried up rhizomes into a plastic bag and left it in my kitchen, which is quite cold for about a month or six weeks . I was about to throw them out when on opening the bag discovered that many of them had little divisions and some had tiny leaves .I have since planted them in my nursery bed.I’ve counted nearly 60 new plants .I can’t identify the variety until it blooms I recall that the growth is very upright and strong and each bloom was born on a stem not more than 36” tall. I believe that the standard was a rich yellow and the fall bronze with no frills or ruffling -so perhaps an older variety .Surely this variety has a name like Intrepid or Unconquerable .

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    • I visited the Garden in May. It was mind mesmerizing. It was so awesome that we are planning to take my Mom in May next year. We live about 12 hours away in California.

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      • Wonderful! Thank you for visiting. We look forward to seeing you here again next year. Be sure to call our office before you travel to find out the status of the bloom. The peak bloom is typically around May 20th, but that can fluctuate a little from year to year.

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  26. Omg! This is the exact situation in a bed I’ve inherited on newly bought property! This is going to be a lot of work. After I dig up and divide the rhizome, how do I store the plants while preparing the soil/bed and how long can they stay out of the ground?

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    • Once out of the ground, brush off excess soil from the rhizomes you intend to keep. You can store them in a cool, dry place for several weeks. Lay them out on a sheets of newspaper in a dry, cool corner of the garage or back porch, for example. The foliage may brown and shrivel a bit, but if the rhizome is still firm, then the plant is healthy. Happy gardening!

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  27. I dug one clump and took the extra’s to the Sr. Nutrition Ctr. and they were gone when I went back the next day. I’m gone.

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  28. Hi, I live in Adelaide, South Australia, and although I am unable to get irises from the USA, I have a largeish collection, bought over the years from various growers in Australia. I have a question if it’s not a problem. Some of the bought ones, (a few quite expensive), have never flowered, and in fact haven’t really grown at all. They are alive and what leaves they have are healthy, but that’s it. They possibly don’t get quite enough sun in some spots, but I would have expected them to at least grown larger over 2 or more years. Others in the same bed grow well and flower, so I’m not sure that position is the problem. Should I give up on them? I should mention that we never have frosts, we have wet winters and extremely hot and dry summers – over 40c is not uncommon. It is now mid-winter here, and I wonder if there is anything I can do to help them along in time for spring?

    Thank you!
    Vicki

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    • Hello! Thank you for writing. It is possible that the lack of bloom is related to the maturity of the rhizomes that were originally planted. Less vigorous varieties (despite their price), may take a year or two to become mature enough to produce a bloom. Providing them with a low-nitrogen fertilizer one month before bloom time will help (follow the manufacturer’s directions). Be sure the rhizomes are planted close to the surface, that there are no signs of rot in the rhizome, that they are not crowded by other plants, and that they receive at least 6 hours of sun per day. If they do not bloom this year, try transplanting them in the summer to a sunnier spot with nutrient rich soil. Happy gardening!

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    • Hello! Thank you for writing. It is possible that the lack of bloom is related to the maturity of the rhizomes that were originally planted. Less vigorous varieties (despite their price), may take a year or two to become mature enough to produce a bloom. Providing them with a low-nitrogen fertilizer one month before bloom time will help (follow the manufacturer’s directions). Be sure the rhizomes are planted close to the surface, that there are no signs of rot in the rhizome, that they are not crowded by other plants, and that they receive at least 6 hours of sun per day. If they do not bloom this year, try transplanting them in the summer to a sunnier spot with nutrient rich soil. Happy gardening!

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  29. When I dig up my crowded iris, I take brown paper lunch bags and put several in each one, enclose an instruction sheet on how to plant iris, label the bag, and take them to church in a box with a sign attached that says “Free”. They always get taken. I also give them to friends, family, and neighbors. I get pleasure when driving around the neighborhood or visiting family and seeing my iris’ growing in their yards. Also want to tell you of this experience. I recently was on an Alaskan cruise and a dinner table mate was from Oregon. I live on the east coast. We found we shared a love of flower gardening. Since he was from OR, I asked if he had heard of Schriener’s. He said he lived “right down the road” from you and has been there. His son lives even closer than he. Hopefully, someday I can visit his family and make it to Schriener’s…..in the spring of course!

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    • We really help ourselves when we help and share with others. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. What an amazing coincidence to meet that fellow on your travels. Perhaps good fortune shall bring you to our blooming spring gardens one year. Best regards.

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  30. If you use horse manure either compost it first so it gets hot enough to kill the grasses or let the grasses sprout then turn the manure until nothing more sprouts before using it. Horse manure is the best way in the world to cultivate grasses. Our Farmers Market maintains a small space where people can sell things like extra iris.

    I bought several just recently that way. They’re still in the bag, waiting for me to find a corner somewhere in my small yard to plant them. Which reminds me, I may still have a nice selection in my “favorites” here at Schneider’s from the recent sale. I wonder if the sale price is still good, and/or if they are still in stock. I’d better check!

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    • Thank you for the useful tips on the horse manure. Happy gardening!

      Like

      • Hot diggity dog-horse manure ! Be sure you follow instructions above before using manure or you will have- EVERY YEAR- a beautiful field of iris and wheat or possibl;y some other crop..Now that’s not all bad because the soil gets fertilized from wheat too (; – )) We have 1000s of iris from our families and each year give hundreds away to the city extension agencies -like VPI etc. and the iris are used with the senior garden club planting …..

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      • Use caution with the manure. It’s a great nutrient source, however.

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  31. Thank you for your tip on the frost date guide for digging and dividing. Last year, I planted a lot of “babies” in a new bed I created on the West side of my house. I also put in the new ones I got from Schreiner’s. This year the new Schreiner’s ones were gorgeous. I didn’t have any blooms on my divided ones. But I am encouraged by this newsletter article on saving overgrown iris that many will probably bloom next year. The transplanted ones are really healthy. Some are nicely filled out plants as well as the baby ones growing up, so I’m looking forward to seeing more blooms with each year.

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  32. I have dug up some of every color of my irises because we are moving at the end of August. I won’t be able to replant them for 3 months. Do you have sugestions on storing them so I won’t lose them? Thanks.

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    • Bearded Iris rhizomes are fairly tough characters. But the deciding factor will be when the date of the first frost is in your new location. The Iris should be planted at a minimum of 6 weeks before the first frost so that they can establish their new root system. If the 6-week pre-frost deadline precedes the date at which you’ll be able to plant, then we would suggest you plant the rhizomes in containers, let them overwinter in the pots outside and transplant them either next bloom season (soil from pot and all) or next summer. Best of luck on your move!

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  33. Having grown up in E. Oregon it was and is a favorite of us high and dry altituders and now living in the ‘paradise’ of the Willamette Valley where they fill my gardeners heart with joy! My tip (if it’s not used by others already) is to cut slats from an old mini-blind, sharpen at one end, write the name of the plant with permanent marker, and push into the soil remind yourself who you’re talking to, or put into the baggy with the rhizomes you’re passing on so the recipient will have their own lable. Happy gardening everyone!

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    • My husband and I had heard that and did that also, however, we noticed that they became brittle and broke off very easy and the names fade so we had to go with some metal signs that we made on our own!

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    • I agree with your suggestion about using old mini blinds for plants tags/names. My problem is that the “permanent” markers I have used are not so permanent…….especially after a Canadian winter. Any suggestions? Pencil perhaps???

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      • Perhaps an acrylic exterior paint might hold up to the harsh winters and blazing sun. Small, inexpensive sample-size cans of paint are often available at home improvement or paint stores. Use a small gauge brush and a steady hand to paint the names onto the blinds.

        Like

      • I’ve seen plants with the names written right on the leaves with a Sharpie. I’m going to do it that way too. Seems like a great idea.

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      • This method works for the short term in our experience. Nature has a way of wearing down the ink by the end of the season it seems. The weather in your area will be a determining factor, particularly the winter weather. It is wonderful to have options and experiment with what works best in your garden.

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      • We use paint pens! They are excellent! You can get them at Wal-Mart or I am willing to bet at any craft store!

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      • Great idea. Thank you for sharing.

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  34. That is great news! But now, I have a question. My iris are getting eaten up by grasshoppers. I have tried insecticide to get rid of them, but there are too many. Plus, my garden is overrun by weeds. Would it be best to dig all my iris up and try again after some control has been gathered or is it going to be too late to try and save my iris?? I think some have been almost eaten to the ground and have very little if any green left on them. Please tell me that I can save my iris.

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    • Wow. That’s a tough situation. Iris are quite durable, though. Most likely they will survive. Ray Schreiner suggests digging up the Iris, taking whatever measures you see necessary to restore peace to your yard, and then replanting the Iris (discard the spent rhizomes). Keep in mind, you will want them planted at least 6 weeks before the first frost in your area. Depending on the extent of the damage to the foliage, and the point at which the Iris were in of their growing cycle when damage occurred, new bloom could take more than one season. Best of luck to you! Keep us posted.

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  35. I got my iris from a neighbor and also hired her landscaper down the road. I had admired her yard when we moved in and I was so pleased when she shared her plants. She also gave me a couple of succulents that I planted in a bucket on our deck.

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  36. Oh no, it is too late… the other day as I was dumping my clippings in the trimmings wagon, I spotted orphan rhizomes with sprouts on them. Not knowing that as long as there is greens. they no longer need to be abandoned. No telling what treasures were left in the wagon. Now I know, thank you for the info. Hugs to all you diggers…I dig it!

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  37. Sharing iris is like sharing too many cucumbers and tomatoes. I’ve had a huge perennial garden for years and have given pickup loads of plants for years. I love to share.
    What is the time of years to divide in Nebraska?
    Will bookmark this blog.

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    • Thank you for your comments. To answer the question about dividing in Nebraska, you will want to consider the date of your first frost. Count back from that date a minimum of 6 weeks. That would be the last best date to transplant (or plant) Bearded Iris. They need at least 6 weeks to establish themselves before that first frost hits.

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  38. I just finished dividing my crowded iris bed. I offered my extras in the Farmers Market as a fund raiser for our Island Historical Society. It has been a success with many new iris converts. I just think no garden is complete with a cluster of iris somewhere in it!

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  39. The irises I moved and planted 2 years ago have not bloomed. Is this unusual? Can I expect blooms next year?

    Like

    • Lack of bloom can be attributed to a variety of issues. If you have healthy green foliage at bloom time, then you know the plants are thriving. If the transplanted rhizomes were small in size, then they might require additional seasons to mature enough to produce blooms. Other factors include the amount of sun the plants receive daily, how deeply they are planted, type of fertilizer used (if any). Please visit our “How to Grow & Care for Iris” pages for more detailed information.

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  40. WE put an ad in Craigs to give away free iris and also give many iris to VPI ext. agency for their gardeners. Made a mistake last year and put horse manure in the iris alley and now we have uncontrollable beautiful wheat!
    Just a suggestion here ;).

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  41. We dug up one of our gardens and gave all of them to our friends. His wife LOVES iris. I had metal name tags for each one. Each tag lists the name of the iris, Bloom Time: E-M-L and Color. I also shared some of my cherished Schreiner’s catalogs so they have references to look at. In turn, they gave us a lot of their dahlia tubers for our dahlia gardens. They put the tuber clumps in papers bags with the names on the outside and included a nice list telling me the name, color, type of dahlia, plant height, etc. It’s fun to share with neighbors and good friends — makes the world that much prettier!

    Oh, and of course we still have one garden of Schreiner’s GORGEOUS iris — LOL — you didn’t think I’d give them all away did you? LOL

    Happy Growing everyone …. Bobbie

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    • How wonderful to share not only the beautiful plants, but also the information to go with! Some folks like to know the “specs” on their objects of their passion. Thank you for sharing with us!

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      • Absolutely true… I think most of us like some information on plants that we add to our gardens. By sharing a few of my precious Schreiner’s catalogs with them, they are now looking forward to visiting YOUR garden!
        I think it’s not only important to share our plants with others, but share the EXCELLENT Growers, like Schreiner’s, so they know where to go to add more. I always recommend excellent growers to friends and family.
        Happy Day to All,
        Bobbie 🙂

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  42. When I divide my Iris, I don’t save the nubs, only the biggest healthiest looking babies. What is the best way to position new plantings of one color?

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    • Thank you for sharing, Marianne. Positioning Iris color is a very subjective endeavor. Some folks like the impact of many plants of one color planted in close proximity (12 to 18 inches apart), perhaps three plants in a triangle formation, for example. Other like to mix and mingle their colors into themes. I hope that helps. Happy gardening!

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  43. I got my iris while driving home from the store a few years back. There were a bunch of them at the side of the road with a “free” sign. I love them and am thankful for the person’s extras. 🙂

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  44. I loved the quote from Sarah Stein’s book; would like to read all of it. I have a lot of Iris in that shape & am preparing to dig and have been contemplating what to do with the extra’s because it’s very hard to throw them away. Think I’ll take them to the Senior Citizens where I eat, and maybe to church. I’ve been collecting iris from friends for years and have a lot of colors and some of them are growing together. I’ve done various things like tying yarn around the clumps to separate and labeling with medicine bottles. I only like to reset about 3.. Got to get digging soon.

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    • Thank you for your comment, Marianne. Whoever receives your Iris will be very happy, I’m sure. That’s the way to “pay it forward”. P.S. I have reserved a copy of Sara Stein’s book at my local library. Can’t wait to get my hands on it and read more of her work too! Happy digging!

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