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How to Divide Iris in Spring

How to divide Iris in Spring…Because I know things can get away from us and we miss the optimum times to do certain garden chores. It works very well and you can still get blooms.

I love bearded Iris. Even though many shrug them off as they only bloom a few short weeks in Spring I still love them in my garden. I have gardened with Iris for 30 plus years and am constantly adding more.

Today I am going to share with you how to Divide Iris in Spring. It is a simple yet effective way to separate those Iris you missed last Summer and Fall. 

I can see so many garden enthusiasts shaking their heads already saying, “You don’t divide Iris in Spring!”

Yes, I do know that the proper time to divide Iris is six to eight weeks after they have bloomed but so many times I don’t get to all of them then come Springtime I have some overcrowded clumps that could use a bit of thinning.

Make sure to view the video at the end of this post!

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Don’t worry, I still get blooms. Rest assured I have used this method for years with 100% success.

If you wish to get access to the free downloadable cheat sheet for dividing Iris in Spring fill out form below, further down in this post.

Supply List:

Garden Knife
Small Shovel
Handy Garden Tools
(the smaller shovel is easier to get in to small spaces plus it is just easier on my old lady back)

Find Dividing Point 

Here is my clump of Iris that needs to be divided.  The center is obvious and you have rhizomes fanning outward from it.

This Iris is actually already loaded with buds.

How to Divide Iris in Spring 2, FlowerPatchFarmhouse.com.com (6 of 21)

Decide which rhizome you want to remove and follow it back to the center.  With your garden knife cut the rhizome off where it attaches to the mother rhizome.

How to Divide Iris in Spring, knife, FlowerPatchFarmhouse.com.com

Divide Iris rhizome from mother

You may need to dig around the connecting area to get a good view of it, then slice as close to the mother rhizome as you can. Take your shovel and dig up the rhizomes freed from the mother.

Leave the rest of the rhizomes undisturbed in the ground.

You can see them to the left of the shovel in the next photos. Those left in the ground will go ahead and bloom because you have not done anything to them.

How to Divide Iris in Spring 4, FlowerPatchFarmhouse.com (8 of 21)

Dig Out Iris Rhizomes

Dig down deep to get underneath the roots of the rhizomes, this way you preserve any blooms that may be already forming on them and it may go ahead and bloom.

You can see I left a nice sized hole where I dug it up from.
The rest of the plant is undisturbed, it will bloom just as if nothing has happened. (just to the left of the tip of the arrow)

Replant Iris division

Find a nice spot where you want to place your dug up Iris, dig a shallow hole and mix in a bit of Bulb Fertilizer (this is the one I use) into the soil.

Note: if you get critters wanting to dig up things skip the fertilizer, usually it has bone meal which draws them like crazy.

I placed the freshly dug up Iris in my Secret Garden I am developing in my back yard. You can see it there next to a Foxglove I transplanted.  This coming Summer they should both give me lots of lovely flowers!

Press here for a video of the Iris in the Secret Garden in Spring!

How to Divide Iris in Spring replanted, FlowerPatchFarmhouse.com

If you newly planted division does not bloom this year (it might), don’t worry, it will next year. But you still get to enjoy the blooms from the section you left undisturbed.

Want to download a cheat sheet of how to divide Iris in Spring. Just fill out this form for access!

If you are already a subscriber the emails you receive have the password included.

Iris Garden Visit 2018

I have toured two Iris Farms the past couple of years and I shared all the beautiful blooms here IRIS FARM VISIT

A visit to Pleasants Valley Iris Farm, FlowerPatchFarmhouse.com
Paul Black, Superstition Iris Gardens

Just one more note, I credit my chickens and their leavings (doo) with a lot of my success in gardening, great soil builder. That being said if you would like to get into chicken keeping here is a great resource on it: Fresh Eggs Daily, Raising Happy Chickens Naturally.

garden page

For more great garden posts with out of the box tips and tricks see my Garden Page.

More Garden Posts You Will Enjoy
How to Divide Iris
How to Plant Iris for Tons of Blooms
Is Your Flower Garden Dangerous?

I wish you Happy Gardening and a Flowery Spring!
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Nicole

Wednesday 10th of June 2020

if dividing in spring do you leave the leaves intact, without cutting?

Pamela

Wednesday 10th of June 2020

Yes, I do. I take a large which may include several rhizomes and it needs its leaves to continue on. In Spring the leaves are not typically tall enough yet to create a problem of tipping over.

Erin

Saturday 16th of May 2020

If I divide in spring, they will not bloom until following year, correct?

Pamela

Saturday 16th of May 2020

The section you leave in the ground should go ahead and bloom unless it was so crowded it failed to make any buds. So in that case, yes, you won't get any until next Spring.

Lori

Sunday 10th of May 2020

I was just given a box full of iris rhizomes but all of the leaves were cut off prior to giving them to me! They were cut down before they bloomed this spring. I have a good spot in my back yard, plenty of room to spread them out, but now I see the leaves shouldn’t have been cut off. Should I just add the fertilizer when planting and hope for the best or is there something else I can do?

Janet Hagemann

Thursday 7th of May 2020

I just watched your video on transplanting irises and enjoyed it. I am embarrassed to admit that I dug up a bunch of irises over a year ago; they were in what seemed like a good spot but hardly bloomed. After watching your video, I think they were just too crowded. They are still in the bucket where I put them. I finally have an area that is cleared and looks like a good place to plant. Is it too late? And I noticed that when you planted, you put them into compost -- is that the best way to pl;ant them? No dirt?

Jacqueline Frisinger

Saturday 25th of April 2020

My husband's uncle passed and the land is being demolished. There were many irises, some blooming now. We are in Virginia. We have to get them if we want them this week or they will be gone. I just started digging them up. I don't care if they bloom this year. I just want to save them for my yard. I watched your video. These plants are much larger. Do you think they will survive?

Pamela

Sunday 26th of April 2020

Yes, they will be just fine. The glory of Iris is they are one tough customer and will survive a lot!

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