We moved into our house last winter (zone 7 - Virginia) and I got too eager
in my fall cleanup. We had a bed of Irises (I still don't know what
specific type) that was overgrown with weeds-turned trees and lots of
creepers from a nearby wisteria. They bloomed well this year but were very
crowded. I wanted to clean up the bed really nice, so I pulled out the
unwanted stuff and thinned and seperated the Irises last weekend. Yeah, you
know where this is headed. So when I actually took the time to research how
to properly replant and space the Irises I realized I started this project
way too late in the season. Help!
Right now I have two flats full of Iris rhizomes (must be at least 50) and I
don't know what I should do to salvage them. Do I store them for the winter
or replant and hope for the best? I hadn't trimmed back any of the plants,
so each rhizome still has 12 inches or so of greenery, and 6 to 8 inches of
roots. I'm feeling like an idiot and hope I don't lose these.
On a related note I have a bunch of daffodil bulbs that we dug up but
haven't replanted yet. And we'd love to relocate some tiger and daylillies,
but I'm not going anywhere near them unless someone tells me too. It's
apparent I'm a little in over my head...
All of the plants you mention are tough customers, so it's not nearly
the problem you think it is. But in future, thin out irises or other
plants and immediately replant/relocate them.
As long as the ground hasn't frozen, and you don't expect it to freeze
for the next two to four weeks, it's OK to plant the iris corms. Give
them a healthy dash of blod-and-bone meal, and water well after planting
Mulch to delay freezing of the ground. Remove the mulch next spring, as
iris corms should be just below the surface. You may lose a few, but
irises are pretty tough, so most will come back. They most likely will
not bloom next year, though, and perhaps not the year after either.
The daffodil bulbs should be planted 6" to 8" deep, also with a healthy
dash of blood and bone meal. They will do just fine. We planted daffs
about three weeks ago here in Zone 4, and Zone 7 is considerably milder,
so you shouldn't have any problems.
Trim the dead/dying stuff off the day lilies and tiger lilies. Relocate
them in the spring. NB that day lilies tend to be invasive, so think
hard about where you want them. They also need thinning out every other
year or so. Tiger lilies propagate from new bulblets and from seed, and
can also spread into places you don't want them.
It's NOT to late to plant them, as long as the ground is not frozen, you can
go ahead and plant them, at lest in a temp. bed. Just make sure the roots
are covered. I'm doing transplanting of iris right now during the days. If
you get them in the ground and feed them a bit, they may still bloom next
year, sometimes they wait for a year to bloom again.
Otherwise you'd need to put them in a lot of pots for over wintering.
The Lone Sidewalk Astronomer of Rosamond
Telescope Buyers FAQ
Thanks for all your great advice. We're having one more cold night
(mid-30's) then it looks like it'll be a bit warmer for awhile, so I'll
replant the IRISes and daffodil bulbs tomorrow. A few more questions if
you don't mind...
How much should I trim the old growth on the Irises? Can you recommend
a few brands/types of food I should try - and can I use the same food
for the daffs? When should I look to transplant the lillies in the
Spring, right after they come up?
Trim back all the foliage on the Iris to 3 to 4 inches, you can
generally just pull the outer leaves off, and trim the remaining in the
shape on an inverted "V".
"Tiger Lilies" can be moved in the very early spring as can the
daylilies, which can also be divided as well. I almost always dig and
divide my daylilies in the very early spring and have found that the
plants suffer very little set-back. (Unless the divisions are really
You will no doubt be finding young "Tiger Lilies" coming up in the old
location this coming summer and next. You may also find them several
feet away from the original location. These will be new plants that
have grown from the small black bulbils that develop in the leaf axis
of the "Tiger Lilies". These bulbils can be either a blessing or a
Trim to about 6". I've seen irises trimmed to less than this, but you
want a little bit of photosynthesis for as long as possible while the
tranpslants develop their roots.
When replanting, use a fertiliser low in nitrogen and high in phosphate,
low or zero in potassium. Blood-and-bone meal is very good, it's usually
3-15-0. Plain bone meal is also OK (usually 0-10-0). Mix a little into
the planting pit, and sprinkle some on top and water it in. No heavy
feeding at this time, all you want is to stimulate rooting.
In spring, a generic fertiliser such as 20-20-20 will work just fine.
Fancy brands aren't necessary unless your soil is low in minerals and
trace elements -- not likely, since you indicate that the garden was
flourishing when you bought the house. Make sure you buy a slow release
fertiliser, though, as plants will suck up all the nitrogen they can
get, the li'l gluttons, and a quick release fertiliser can kill ("burn")
them. Ie, do not use spring lawn fertiliser in the garden or flower
beds. Agricultural fertiliser is a good buy, it's much cheaper per pound
than the little boxes you buy at the nursery in the spring, and it's
designed for single or at most double application per growing season, at
relatively low rates (a few pennies cost difference matters a lot to a
Some people will tell you that organic fertilisers are better, but apart
from ecological considerations (eg, recycling manure), there's little to
support that view. Plants don't have ideological problems about where
their food comes from. That being said, compost is gold for a garden. It
is a low-grade fertiliser, which is good, but its main value is the
addition of organic matter to the soil. It also serves as an insulator
during freeze up when used as a mulch, which I recommend you do at this
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