Dividing Iris: Follow these four easy steps for prolific blooms year after year

Old-fashioned Siberian iris along with the popular Bearded hybrids are among of my favorite late spring bloomers. Their delicate, intricate blooms appear too sensitive to touch as they balance among sword-like leaves. Unfortunately they don’t bloom long enough- here today, gone tomorrow.

The key to keeping your iris’ blooming prolifically year after year is proper and timely divisions of the rhizomes. The rhizomes produce new roots above the old ones and eventually become too shallow-rooted to support themselves.  This creates an over growth causing the iris to bloom poorly as well as a habitat for potential disease.

Division should be done every other year. It’s very easy and can be done quickly by following these four easy steps.


1. After your iris blooms have completely died, carefully lift tDPP_0003he rhizomes out of the ground, making every effort not to rip the roots. You can use a hand trowel to help loosen and lift them.  Once you’ve thinned  a third of them you’re ready to transplant. If you don’t want to replant, share them with some gardening friends.



2. Take the removed rhizomes and cut the foliage back 6 to 8 inches.






3. If you decide to replant, choose the  location taking into consideration sun and moisture availability. Prepare the soil by loosening it with a hand scratcher about 4 inches in depthDPP_0015.





4. To plant, carefully “wiggle'” the rhizome, roots down into the loosened soil.  Leave half of it exposed above the soil; do not bury the rhizome completely, they will not bloom for you next year. This is very important.DPP_0019




Few perennials are as carefree and beautiful as the iris and by taking the time to divide them every other year, you’ll enjoy beautiful, lush blooms year after year.

Beautiful display of well managed iris.

Beautiful display of well managed iris.

Now I’m off to the garden,