Irises forum: Transplanting irises

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North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 16, 2018 10:48 AM CST
I have a small iris bed that's mostly comprised of irises that have been 'liberated' from alleys, etc. Yesterday I was tidying up a clump of irises from the vacant house nextdoor. In the process I somehow ended up with a couple of healthy rhizomes to transplant into my bed. So here's my question:

The rhizomes have good sized leaves (fans?). Should I trim them, like maybe halfway? Or does it matter? I'm not expecting blooms from them this year, although I wouldn't complain if I got some. Mostly my concern is to keep the rhizomes healthy and happy.

If it will help, I can take a picture so you can get an idea of the sizes.

Any suggestions are welcome.

But wait! Here's a secondary question. I was playing around in my existing iris bed to clear out some grass and expand the bed. Can new roots from rhizomes spread pretty far? I think this part of my question needs a picture. Basically I want to make sure that while I'm eliminating grass and who knows what that I'm not eliminating some roots from the irises as well. Let me take a few pictures so someone might understand what I'm trying to describe.

Thanks. Back in a flash.
Bowling Green Kentucky (Zone 6b)
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alilyfan
Mar 16, 2018 11:27 AM CST
My iris do not spread far, but if you are spraying just make sure you know how far the spray leaches, if it does. Roots are only a couple inches or so. I say that, but remember someone posting a photo of a bearded iris with roots that were at least 6 inches long. I have never had anything like that. And I trim back to 3 to 4 inches when I transplant.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 16, 2018 12:22 PM CST
Thanks. I am cleaning up beds nextdoor by hand and gently using a cobra head to tease out some of the weeds. The irises are very close to the sidewalk plus grass is threading around the rhizomes. I'm not a fan of chemicals.

So anyway, here's a picture of the iris that I want to transplant. From bottom to top is approx. 21". Given that size, do the leaves need a trim?
Thumb of 2018-03-16/tx_flower_child/4500c0

I think I'll have to go outside to get a better picture of the tiny roots. But in the meantime, here's one where I hope to show the tiny roots.

Thumb of 2018-03-16/tx_flower_child/44158b

I'm concerned that in expanding my existing bed I might be chopping / pulling off some of little roots of my irises. Can they have a really long reach?

Despite what the camera seems to show, the mother ship seems healthy. It's firm with no soft spots. But should I cut the end of it to make sure it's healthy? (Maybe should have brushed more dirt off before taking the pictures.)

So time to get back to the garden. Maybe get a better picture. I want to get rid of weeds not iris roots.
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
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tveguy3
Mar 16, 2018 1:16 PM CST
Iris roots spread out and down into the soil for quite a ways, maybe a foot or so after established. If you happen to cut off a root or two of an existing clump while digging out weeds, it's not much of an problem at all. If you are not averse to using chemicals, there is a product called Grass B Gon that will kill most grasses and not harm iris, peonies, or daylilies. With the quack grass around here I couldn't garden without it. The grass will die slowly, and may need a second application, but it will die.

I would not cut the Mother rhizome, no need to. You might trim the leaves a little bit so the wind doesn't blow the plant out of the ground while it's developing new roots. Good Luck! Smiling
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 16, 2018 8:27 PM CST
Thanks, Tom.

A foot or so? Boy am I in trouble! No room! I was out working in my iris bed and found a lot of little oak trees that were sprouting from acorns. I also found 1 grub worm and I'm so mad. I didn't have my gloves on and when I was trying to remove that booger I dropped it and couldn't find it again.

No, not into chemicals but thanks for the suggestion. Somehow I'm going to really expand my little bed. I do have plenty of containers of every size. I guess I could temporarily stash a few irises in pots while I work on the bed or find a spot for a new bed. I have so little sun that finding a new spot will be a challenge. Digging and weeding is a challenge enough.

Anyway, good to know about the roots and the leaves. Thanks again.
South central PA (Zone 6a)
Irises Region: Pennsylvania
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DaveinPA
Mar 19, 2018 3:37 PM CST
Tom is right on, so I second his advice. No cutting of rhizome needed and might expose it to something in soil that is not good; if ever cut let it scab over before covering with soil. Some like to trim the foliage back, but not needed except as Tom said to keep the plant more stable. No need to trim roots either which some shippers do, but losing a little of the roots will not hurt the plant.
My soil is lousy and rocky so I've found some with roots 15-18" downward, never horizontal. Very hardy so should do well.
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
Region: United States of America Region: Arkansas Master Gardener: Arkansas Irises Plant and/or Seed Trader Moon Gardener
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grannysgarden
Mar 19, 2018 4:48 PM CST
Instead of trimming the leaves you could sit a brick on top of the rhizome to keep the wind from blowing it over once you have it planted. As the leaves brown off a bit, due to being transplanted, you can trim only what is necessary to keep them from looking scraggly. I dig out the grass too but once it gets a real hold on a bed it is almost impossible to get it out without digging up the entire bed and replanting.
My mind is made up, don't confuse me with facts.
Name: Ian McBeth
Lincoln NE (Zone 5b)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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SonoveShakespeare
Mar 20, 2018 10:11 AM CST
tx_flower_child, irises will do just fine if their roots are cut if they are long. I would at least leave 2 to 3 inches of root growth so the irises can easily be planted/transplanted. You probably don't want to have the roots too long or else you might as well dig the holes deeper for them. I hope that that iris does well for you. Smiling
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 20, 2018 1:39 PM CST
DaveinPA said:No need to trim roots either which some shippers do, but losing a little of the roots will not hurt the plant.
My soil is lousy and rocky so I've found some with roots 15-18" downward, never horizontal. Very hardy so should do well.


If I were a betting person, which I'm not, I'd up the ante for 'lousy soil and rocky'.
When I started but didn't finish expanding the bed, I think I had more rocks than weeds.

Lately it's been so windy that I haven't done more digging. Maybe when I start again, instead of rocks I might find an Aladdin's lamp.

I came across a handout that came from a local nursery. They suggested watering with a root stimulator after planting. Somewhere else I read to give them 'a light dusting of sulfur as a guard against root rot'. And even somewhere else was a suggestion to add a little bone meal before planting. I guess if I keep reading I'll find something else. Other than the Aladdin's lamp or possible pot of gold, both of which I claim, any advice about root stimulator, sulfur, bone meal, or other such stuff?
Name: Lilli
Copenhagen, Denmark, EU
Irises Roses Bulbs Hellebores Foliage Fan Cottage Gardener
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IrisLilli
Mar 21, 2018 4:57 AM CST
I use bone meal when I plant and that seems to work just fine.
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Mar 21, 2018 7:30 AM CST
Bone meal is a nice product to put under them. It does take a very long time for it to break down before they can use it, but it's there for later.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
(Zone 9b)
Region: California
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UndertheSun
Mar 21, 2018 11:27 AM CST
I used to use bone meal too, but my hordes of wild critters loved to dig for it.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Mar 21, 2018 10:10 PM CST
I was out all day and when I came home I saw that squirrel had dug up a little rhizome. I decided to put it in a pot for now so I added a little bone meal.

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