Asked on Jan 13, 2012

Do I need to help my irises survive until spring?

Christine withamGail SalminenBlueLine Home Maintenance & Remodeling


With our unusually warm winter here in the Kansas City area (60 degrees in January is NOT normal!), my irises popped up out of the ground! The plants have probably an inch and a half to two inches above the soil at this point. What do I need to do to help them survive the rest of winter? It is getting cold again now!
7 answers
  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson)
    on Jan 13, 2012

    You can cover them. How many are you trying to protect will determine the best method. The cold may nip the foliage back but shouldn't affect the bulb. Things you can insulate with- mulch, pinestraw, styrofoam, sheets, frost fabric, plastic mini cold frame- Anyone want to chime in on what they have used or do use to give some protection? Just remember to take it off when the warm sun gets back out or you will cook them with some of the stuff I mentioned above.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jan 14, 2012

    Frost heaving can definitely be a problem with bearded iris because they sit so close to the soil. In future years, it would probably be a good idea to provide a winter mulch, putting it down around Thanksgiving and removing it in mid-March. For now, try to tuck the rhizomes back into the soil and follow Four Season's advice.

  • Terry S
    on Jan 14, 2012

    what about my budding lilac bushes? do i just pray for the best?

  • Mike and Anne
    on Jan 14, 2012

    I am not sure whether you mean the rhizome of the iris has popped out of the ground or if the new foliage has popped out. If the rhizome is still at the correct place in the soil you should be able to lightly mulch the plants. The rhizomes should be safe and when the foliage freezes new foliage will form though blooms may be abit later than usual. Here in the Raleigh area some German Bearded Iris have formed bloom stalks with the warm weather. That's unusual for us. If you do mulch the iris you may want to keep an eye them to make sure some animal does not crawl under and eat the rhizomes. As for the question about lilac blossoms, they are tougher than they look. Some blooms may be damaged but you will probably still have color - and fragrance.

  • If the rhizomes are popping up from the ground, I gently press them back down with a foot. Works every time. I have gorgeous ruffled bearded iris!

  • Gail Salminen
    on Mar 20, 2013

    @Meghan M I am not familiar with your weather, but I think @Douglas Hunt has provided good information. If you don't have access to mulch this time of year you can always layer news paper over them and take it off when the temp is more normal. Weather in this area is quite fickle as well - I haven't found it to effect the foilage or the blooming. If it is icy it is best to mulch in some way.

  • Christine witham
    on Feb 17, 2016

    My Irises in cincinnati ohio, are beautiful every year. I have put dirt and mulch on them and they always rise to the top. We get very cold temps here in January and February. You could cover them for the winter and that would help keep them, but they will uncover themselves.

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