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Thinning Versus Dividing in Bearded Irises

By KentPfeiffer
April 16, 2013

Although irises produce glorious flowers, the plants are remarkably carefree. They do have a somewhat unusual pattern of growth in comparison with other common garden perennials, though, and this presents challenges to gardeners.

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Name: Deb
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Bonehead
Apr 15, 2013 7:13 PM CST
I have been under the apparent and now-corrected misconception that I have to continually divide these thugs, and it often just doesn't get done. This information is invaluable to me, and I look forward to rejuvenating my iris beds post haste!
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Paul2032
Apr 15, 2013 8:01 PM CST
Great information and lovely pictures Kent.
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Muddymitts
Apr 15, 2013 8:33 PM CST
Valuable information Kent -- thank you for posting this.
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dave
Apr 15, 2013 8:50 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

It makes perfect sense! Thank you for sharing this, Kent. You've helped a lot of people.
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robertduval14
Apr 15, 2013 9:06 PM CST

Plants Admin

fantastic little article. Very informative read.
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KentPfeiffer
Apr 15, 2013 9:07 PM CST

Plants Admin

My pleasure. I think many gardeners have been doing this sort of thing for decades. It's just that the published information on iris culture mostly comes from commercial growers, which makes sense, they're the ones with the most experience. But, commercial growers often dig and replant their entire fields every year or two, a technique like this wouldn't be very applicable.
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Marilyn
Apr 15, 2013 11:07 PM CST
Muddymitts said:Valuable information Kent -- thank you for posting this.


I agree Hurray! nodding Thumbs up I tip my hat to you.

Maybe I'll start growing Irises again.

Kent, You say you can do this anytime?! (Spring, Summer or Fall)


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blue23rose
Apr 16, 2013 5:12 AM CST
I never knew that once a rhizome sends up a stalk, that it never does again! I have some clumps that definitely need thinning, not divided nodding Thank you very much for the info.
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RavenCroft
Apr 16, 2013 5:23 AM CST
Wonderful, informative article! I have an ancient clump of iris that came with the place, & are in need of thinning out. Now, where to I get one of those Japanese Hori-Hori knives?Thumb of 2013-04-16/ravencroft/092b92
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KentPfeiffer
Apr 16, 2013 8:08 AM CST

Plants Admin

Marilyn said:

I agree Hurray! nodding Thumbs up I tip my hat to you.

Maybe I'll start growing Irises again.

Kent, You say you can do this anytime?! (Spring, Summer or Fall)





Yes, you can do it any time. I like to thin the ones that are crowding their neighbors in the early spring because that is when it's easiest to see what's going on. You have to understand the growth cycle of the plant, though. Thinning in the early spring likely costs some bloom stalks, but usually the ones that are crowding their neighbors will produce plenty anyway.

As I said in the article, we don't have a lot of problems with rot here, but if you do, you'll want to be careful about when you thin. Generally, bearded iris are most vulnerable to rot under hot and humid conditions with saturated soils.
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
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KentPfeiffer
Apr 16, 2013 8:16 AM CST

Plants Admin

RavenCroft said:Wonderful, informative article! I have an ancient clump of iris that came with the place, & are in need of thinning out. Now, where to I get one of those Japanese Hori-Hori knives?Thumb of 2013-04-16/ravencroft/092b92


I bought mine from the Duluth Trading Co., but they can be found in a lot of places. My only recommendations are to buy a real one that was made in Japan, not a knockoff from China, and the ones with stainless steel blades are easier to clean than the ones with carbon steel blades. They aren't cheap, but they will last for decades if taken care of.

http://www.duluthtrading.com/store/product/gardening-knife-j...
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RavenCroft
Apr 16, 2013 1:49 PM CST
Thanks for the advice & the link, Kent!
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vic
Apr 16, 2013 4:18 PM CST
Thank you so much for this information! Huge sigh of relief here Thumbs up
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Marilyn
Apr 16, 2013 9:45 PM CST
RavenCroft said:Wonderful, informative article! I have an ancient clump of iris that came with the place, & are in need of thinning out. Now, where to I get one of those Japanese Hori-Hori knives?Thumb of 2013-04-16/ravencroft/092b92


I got mine last year from High Country Gardens

http://www.highcountrygardens.com/index/page/product/product...

Welcome to the Agastache and Salvias Forum!

Hummingbirds are beautiful flying jewels in the garden!


Name: Marilyn
Northern KY (Zone 6a)
Laughter is the best medicine!
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Marilyn
Apr 16, 2013 9:45 PM CST
Thanks Kent! I tip my hat to you. Thumbs up
Welcome to the Agastache and Salvias Forum!

Hummingbirds are beautiful flying jewels in the garden!


Name: Paul
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Paul2032
Apr 17, 2013 9:00 AM CST
This method works well for Hosta also. A good way to renew a clump that has grown old and not vigorous in the center.
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OldGardener
Apr 17, 2013 7:08 PM CST
As an older and disabled gardener, this tip is particularly helpful. Although I cannot stand up to use a shovel, I can certainly sit and use a knife! Thank you so much!
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Name: Polly Kinsman
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PollyK
Apr 17, 2013 8:14 PM CST
Excellent article, Kent!
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pniksch
Apr 17, 2013 9:37 PM CST
Thanks for the info, Kent. Appreciate it very much! Paul
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woofie
Apr 18, 2013 12:33 PM CST
Very timely article! And a lot of information I was not aware of! I didn't realize that the rhizomes wouldn't rebloom either. And I just ordered some new iris for this year for a new spot, so this is wonderful information to have. Thank you so much!
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