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Move irises to a new home

I have irises that will need to be moved. They have been in a very shaded spot and have never bloomed for 4 years. I am moving to a new house and would like to transplant them. I know now is not the time to transplant, but should I trim the leaves back or leave the leaves?

Irises bloom best in full sun.

Now is not a bad time to move the irises. The experts at the American Iris Society and other sources suggest mid- to late-summer as the best time for digging, dividing and moving irises, but since yours haven’t bloomed in four years, they should be happy whenever you’re able to give them a new, sunnier spot in your new home’s landscape.

Here’s the method suggested by gardening experts: Cut the leaves in a fan shape about 6 inches tall, then lift the clump or rhizomes with a spading fork, wash off the dirt, and inspect the rhizome for soft spots, damage or disease.

If the irises need dividing, cut the rhizome into smaller pieces with a sharp knife, making sure each piece includes an eye or a bud. Cut away any older growth. Garden expert Judy Lowe, in her book Month by Month Gardening in Tennessee & Kentucky, notes that iris rhizomes are susceptible to fungal problems, and suggests dipping the rhizome briefly into a solution of one part liquid bleach to nine parts water.

Irises do best in full sun, and require at least 6 – 8 hours of direct sunlight, according to the American Iris Society. They are tolerant of many soil types, as long as you plant them in soil that drains well.

When you’re ready to plant, dig a hole and make a mound of soil in the center, then place the rhizome on top so that its roots spread over the mound. Cover the roots, but maintain the rhizome at soil level or just below it. Bearded iris rhizomes that are planted too deep may rot.

Water the bed well when you plant. Iris beds should not be covered with heavy mulch, but a light layer of pine straw should keep the bed from drying out too quickly. And since we’re headed into the heat of summer, check frequently to make sure the soil is not too dry.

In general, digging, dividing and replanting irises mid to late summer allows the rhizomes to become established before the end of the growing season, and makes it more likely they’ll bloom well next spring.

One Response

  1. Thank you so much for the recommendations. I look forward to getting them in the ground and see them blooming.

    I do love your newsletters. Always very helpful.

    Thanks Ruth

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