Question about Iris

I have an Iris bed that has become over grown. To really get in there an clear the bed, I want to dig up all the Iris, (after they bloom), clean the bed and then replant the Iris. My question is, will they go dormant if out of the soil for 1 or 2 weeks, should I wait longer to redo this bed? Thanks I look forward to your help, I am a really newbie gardener and there is just so much to learn!
Laura in Chesapeake, VA
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Dig them out and if you can place them in damp potting soil, most likly you'll be needing to split the rhizomes with a sharp knife to be able to start many more. Rototill the bed and rototill some alfafa pellets into the soil, then space the iris out and replant them as soon as you can, Iris don't go dorment at all, and don't trim the fans, they are needed for making food for the next years blooms.
After this has all been done, there is a chance you may not get full blooms next year, but the next year should be awesome. Also some steer manure lightly mixed into the soil helps too.
grow close to 300 iris out here in the High Mojave Desert.

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Thank you so much, I guess it is time to get busy and clean up that bed!
Laura in Chesapeake, VA

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Starlord, I'm moving to the AZ desert (I guess it is Sonoran desert), 2700' elevation, summers long and hot. I'd love to take some of the iris I am growing in Portland to transplant down there but am not sure they will survive the climate. What is the summer like where you are growing yours? Karen
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Weather here in summer is Hot and Dry, and can at times be windy. I use the local dirt and make it into built up beds about 3inch high. I plant the iris and I put a thin layer of dirt over the rhizome to keep it from being dryed out by the sun. When I build the bed, I put down newspaper or even carpet to help hold water in the soil, then a layer of steer manuer and then the dirt. I have almost 200ft of water hose I use to even reach my garden and I use a slow soak way of watering, ( this trailer park has it's own wells ). Also I use Alfafa hay to make tea for feeding and I mix in the leftover hay ( you can use pellets or cubes ) mixed into the dirt too. My iris do good and they bloom like mad.

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Thanks for the information. Guess it won't hurt to give it a try! Karen

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Laura Gilbert wrote:

The best time to dig and divide rhizome iris is about the second week after you first see new bare-root rhizomes for sale in your local nursery. The best way to do it is to replant within the same day or at least within 2-3 days. If you must keep the rhizomes out of the ground, keep them in a cool, dark place, slightly damp but not wet.
For details, see my <URL:http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_divide_iris.html .
--

David E. Ross
<URL:http://www.rossde.com/
  Click to see the full signature.
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David, Thanks so much for the information. I am trying to read and gather as much as I can. I think the advice I am receiving here will give me the confidence to take care of these beautiful plants.
Laura in Chesapeake, VA

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I dug up 2 overgrown clumps about 3 or 4 years ago and ended up with hundreds of iris. You will be amazed as you start digging them up how many more you really have. It is a good idea ask some friends if they would like to share the bounty.
I am in the process of dividing again and have already given to garden clubs, garden sales, friends and strangers. Still have too many!
My recipe for dividing: carefully dig up with a spading fork and separate; cut the leaves down by 1/2 or 1/3 into a fan shape and stack in the shade. This will put vigor into the roots by not having to support the tall leaves.
When you are replanting: Make a 'sausage' roll of dirt, place the rhizome on top so the roots hang down. Then cover the roots and about 1/2 to 2/3 of the rhizome. You want to see the top of the rhizome sticking out of the dirt, like a hippo bathing. It is like a photovoltaic cell: the sun goes in the exposed rhizome and the flower comes out the end.
You'll get different ideas from different people, but this has really worked for me. This year people stopped to take pictures of my sea of iris!
also check out http://www.gertens.com/articles/peren-transplant.html
Laura Gilbert wrote:

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Sterling,
Now I am really excited - I don't think you can have too many of these beautiful plants! Hopefully they are plentiful under some of those weeds!
Laura in Chesapeake, VA

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Do NOT cut the fans, to do that is to rob the iris of food making. I have never cut mine back and every year I move and or thin some iris and by leaving the fans uncut, once they have been planted and watered good, they spring back and by winter time have started growing new eyes for new plants. Only time I cut back any is during the heat of the summer time and that's just to trim the heat burned tips of the fans.
I've gotten iris from other growers who where getting rid of that one iris for resasons of their own and none of them have ever had the fans cut down.
The Rosamond Home for Unwanted and Orpaned Plants.

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I have trimmed back the damaged tips of the plants, but have not ever just cut them all back. I try to reach in to the bed and remove the leaves that have died back, just to kind of clean things up. Great advice, I will add that to the other messages. This is such a great source of information, you have all been very helpful.
Thanks so much,
Laura in Chesapeake, VA

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I cut mine back because that was the advice I got - I did a net search and many places said to cut the fans back - that said I have also 'thrown clumps' in odd spaces intending to go back and plant them and the 'thrown', unclipped and 'unplanted' iris did just file. They are what my Granddad called 'soldiers'!
Where did the clipping advice start? Maybe for shipping?
But I did cut about 200 of them into fans when I moved them the first time and they did just fine too. Go figure!
Starlord wrote:

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The rule of thumb for bearded iris is to dig and divide about 6 to 8 weeks after they bloom. Mine are starting to bloom now. I generally try to divide them in August - or no later than Labor day. Iris are very sturdy plants. I have seen some that were dug and left on the surface accidentally that survived the winter and bloomed the next year, so I wouldn't worry about getting them back in the ground immediately. A large nursery (Springhill) dug their iris and replanted their display garden a couple of years ago. They left the iris on the ground for several weeks before replanting them.
I would divide them into clumps with three or four fans each. You can make a mound and drape the roots over it, with the top of the rhizome slightly above the soil when you backfill. Some people mound the soil over the rhizome temporarily to stabilize it while the roots are reestablishing. Once you can tug on the plant and it resists, you need to uncover the top of the rhizome.
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rhizomes are like bulbs and tubers. they are storage organs, and consequently make the plant more portable than most perennials. I bought 4 iris in a spring closeout at a big box store (lowes) 1/2 price or less, completely dried and dessicated in mesh bags, but hard, not soft and/or rotting. . I put them in the ground and after 3 weeks they are beginning to push up new leaves.
I have also thrown iris rhizomes out as I was weeding areas they were growing in, and found iris blooming later where they were never "officially" planted - the discarded rhizomes having apparently landed on a receptive piece of dirt somewhere and started to put down roots.
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