The Q&A Archives: Transplanting Iris

Question: I purchased my Grandmother's house several years ago and after cleaning some overgrown brush a few years ago I noticed that some Iris keep coming back each year but they do not bloom. I can remember these as a child and I can assume that they must be over 20 years old. What can I do to make them bloom again or is foliage all that I will ever get? I would really love to have this as an heirloom from my grandmother if at all possible.

Answer: Sounds like the bed needs to be dug and the plants divided. Here are some basic Iris facts: Iris thrive in rich, well-draining soil, in full sunshine. they grow from rhizomes, and the old center of the rhizome stops being productive, but the ends continue to grow. If the plants are overcrowded, they may not bloom. To remedy the situation, wait until August, then dig and divide the plants, cutting the foliage and roots back to about 6" for ease in handling. Break the healthy ends off the rhizomes and discard the old centers. Replant in a sunny bed with soil amended with organic matter, placing each rhizome in the bed so it will just barely be covered with soil. Space the rhizomes about 1' apart. Water well and mulch the soil to help suppress weeds. Your transplanted iris should bloom next season.

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