Introduction: Bearded Iris - Divide and Conquer

Bearded irises are beautiful, easy to grow plants that can easily take over your planter in just a few years. This instructable will show you how to successfully divide and transplant iris bulbs so that these gorgeous flowers can be enjoyed to their full potential.

Step 1: Identify Clusters

Begin by identifying which plants need to be removed. If the planter is only a few years old, the plants on the outer edges are the easiest to remove and transplant. Crowded, overgrown planters that have been neglected for many years may need to be entirely dug out and replanted. In either case, the following instructions will be beneficial.

Once plants are identified that need to be removed, cut the stems down to about 8-12 inches. This is not necessary but will make moving them less cumbersome.

Step 2: Diggin' in the DIrt

Carefully loosen the soil around the base of the iris with a wide shovel. Keep the shovel as far away from the roots as possible while loosening the soil. Some roots will be damaged and that is okay. Once the rhizomes (the part of the plant that looks like a fat root or bulb) begin to be exposed, gently free them from the soil. Depending on how closely they are growing, they will come free individually or in a big chunk.

Step 3: Wash Away the Soil

Without using force, wash the soil away from the roots with a hose or large bucket of water. This will allow for the roots to be separated more easily. Once clean, some of the roots will begin to separate from each other on their own. Those are the easy ones! Gently pull the remaining roots apart without breaking roots. If the roots have grown too close together, use a sharp knife or shears to cut the root into sections. Each stem will need a portion of the rhizome and roots in order to grow.

Make sure to remove any roots that are not attached to the bulb. This will prevent decay.

*Note that iris rhizomes can be stored over the winter. If storing them, do not wash the dirt off of the rhizome.

Step 4: Replant Irises in New Planter

After the irises are separated, prepare the new location for transplant. Irises are hardy plants and but like neutral soil. Dig a hole about 6-8 inches deep and loosen the soil at the base of the hole. While holding the iris, set the roots at the base of the hole. Gently cover the roots with soil whiling holding the top of the rhizome at the top of the hole. It is important to leave the very top of the rhizome slightly exposed at the top.

Step 5: Beautiful New Planter

Once planted, cut the leaves down to about 4-6 inches. The distance between plants should be 18 inches or more. The plants are now ready to grow and thrive in their new location. With regular watering and fertilizer, your iris plants will multiply into a new beautiful patch of eye-catching brilliance!

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