Growing and Dividing Bearded Iris
For a high degree of gardening success, it’s hard to beat the bearded iris. There is good reason that it is by far the most popular of the iris types. Bearded iris can be bought in “bare root” form or pot-grown. They are popular heirloom plants, because they are easy to share among family and friends.
Growing bearded irises is easy and no nonsense. They’ll do best in soil that is moist but well drained with average fertility. Plant them just under the soil surface, you may need to add a little soil after watering them in, just keep them barely covered.
Dividing bearded irises is as easy as growing them. It can be done at any time after flowering and before the first fall frost. It should be done every three to five years to keep the plants growing vigorously and blooming profusely. Simply dig them up and break them apart. For slightly better results, take a bit more time and untangle the rhizomes (fat “root-stems”), use a sharp knife to remove any sections that are dead, mushy, or damaged. Also remove any spotty or brown leaves. Discard or burn any borer damaged plants, rhizomes, leaves, or flower stalks. All of the plants kept should have firm rhizomes (they should feel like a potato), and clean leaves…no spots.
Bearded iris is a good plant for beginners to include in a first garden, and when divided, it can be shared, traded, or passed on to new generations of gardeners. My favorite is an old purple one that was divided from my grandmother’s plant in Maryland. She planted it more than fifty years ago, and I was given a rhizome in 2006 and it is growing beautifully here in Georgia.
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Published June 16th, 2014 12:15 PM
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