QUESTION: When is the right time to divide irises?
Bearded irises can be divided after they finish blooming.
Bearded irises, the large, showy flowers that have fuzzy patches on the outer petals, are putting on a pretty nice show across the region right now, and they’ll continue to bloom for several weeks.
After they have finished blooming, the rhizomes can be thinned out and divided if needed. But if you don’t get to it right away, you can wait until later. Irises are resilient and can survive being moved as long as they are re-planted properly.
Garden expert Judy Lowe recommends this method in her book, Month by Month Gardening in Tennessee & Kentucky:
Cut the leaves into a 6-inch high fan shape, then lift the clump with a spading fork and gently wash the dirt from the tubers. Cut off any soft, mushy or damaged parts, then cut the rhizome into smaller pieces, each with an eye or bud, using a sharp knife.
Lowe recommends dipping each rhizome into a fungicide solution to reduce the chance of fungal problems; one part liquid bleach to nine parts water is one suggestion to use.
Replant the rhizome sections close to the soil surface and water them well. Rhizomes of bearded irises should be planted so that their tops are visible above the soil. Iris beds should not be mulched.
In general, you may need to think iris beds every three to five years.
What else can you do in the garden? Pull on your gardening gloves and check today’s Tennessean, where you’ll find information about upcoming garden events and the April Landscape & Gardening calendar.
News & Events
Nashville garden specialist Barbara Wise has a passion for pots – that is, planting and growing container gardens. She now has a new book out: Container Gardening For All Seasons.
“I wrote it for new gardeners and for those who like simple (easy) steps to follow that will help them succeed as gardeners,” she says.
The book features 101 container “recipes” that any novice gardener can follow – she tells what plants to buy, what size container to use, how to place the plants, and substitutions to consider if you can’t find (or don’t like) the suggested “ingredients.” But it’s also nice for experienced gardeners who are looking for new ideas. It’s published by Cool Springs Press; retails for $19.99 and you can order it through Parnassus Books and Amazon.
Bloom ‘n’ Garden Expo is next weekend, April 13 – 15 at the Ag Expo Center in Franklin, Tenn. Plants, gardening products from hundreds of vendors, speakers and educational workshops are on the schedule throughout the weekend. Details, http://bloomngarden.com.
The Perennial Plant Society’s annual sale is coming back to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds April 14, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. There will be thousands of perennials for sale for sun and shade, all from Tennessee growers, so they’re adapted to our growing conditions. Admission is free, but PPSMT notes that the Fairgrounds has a $5 parking fee. To learn more, visit the PPSMT’s website www.ppsmt.org.
The Herb Society of Nashville’s annual plant sale is April 21 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. It’s 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., but get there early to browse through 15,000 herbs (including some of those hard-to-find varieties) and talk to the Answer Ladies and all the other herb fanciers who turn out for this annual event. Look for more info at the Society’s website, www.herbsocietynashville.org and Facebook page.
Cheekwood is celebrating its gardens all through April with a series of Cheekwood in Bloom events.
The 20th annual Spring Art Hop is today — April 7. More than 20,000 candy-filled eggs will be hidden throughout the gardens for egg hunts every half-hour. There will also be music, arts and crafts and live entertainment.
Ka-Bloom! on April 14 includes at family art activity and scavenger hunt,10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; flower arranging demonstration at 10:30 a.m.; guided tour of the Robertson Ellis Color Garden at 11 a.m. Howard Pink and his Musical Garden Hoses at noon; guided tour of the Carell Dogwood Garden at 1 p.m.; and container garden demonstration at 2 p.m.
The grand opening of the Howe Garden at Cheekwood (after a million-dollar renovation) will be April 21, with activities, live music, guided tours and refreshments,10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
In honor of national Arbor Day, April 28, there will be several drop-in activities and demonstrations. By the way, Cheekwood is now a certified Level IV arboretum, with more than 120 identified species of trees.
Every Sunday in April there will be guided greenhouse tours atnoon; guided museum tours at1 p.m.; and a drawing room concert series featuring Blair School of Music at 2 p.m.
Complete details on Cheekwood in Bloom are at Cheekwood’s web site.
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