Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dividing Iris

The best advice I got about iris was to divide them between the fourth of July and Labor Day. I procrastinate (as you know if you've read the chapter I Don't Want It Perfect I Want It Tuesday in my book. So I am dividing iris. Probably won't finish by Labor Day but oh well.

They start out looking like this:
the garden's version of a bad hair day. I slide a spade next to them and lever them out of the ground - 

then I pull them apart, keeping the healthy plump roots with a fan of leaves attached. Wrinkled up roots like this:

get thrown away. Only fat plump rhizomes (the brown part) with a good fan of leaves (the green part) or a fat white bud that will turn into a clump of leaves (you'll know it when you see it) get saved.

I cut the leaves back to about a foot, and because the place where you break the roots apart is moist and susceptible to all sorts of fungal and insect invasion, I leave them to dry for an hour or so. Then I plant.
 This is what they look like when they have been divided.I space them about a foot apart with the leaf fans facing out. Not too deep please - they will rot. The rhizome should be just covered with soil.

 You can see which way they will grow - don't point them at each other. Think siblings and keep them from squabbling over space.

A generous dusting of fertilizer on top, a deep soak, then leave them alone. They are tough, they do best in full sun and not too much water. I prefer all one color massed in a bed - I hate that spotty look. But it's your garden, so if you're into spots, knock yourself out.

This one is Victoria Falls and it re-blooms. I am looking for a photo. Last year I had iris to cut for the table at Thanksgiving. This year? We'll see.

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