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Dividing Irises

Get tips for dividing irises in your yard to keep them blooming and healthy.

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-Today, we're dividing bearded irises. Late summer or early fall are the best times to take care of this easy garden task. By waiting until later in the season, you won't sacrifice spring blooms. Dig up and divide bearded irises when a clump gets crowded every 3 to 5 years. With a garden fork, work your way around the clump until a section of rhizomes lifts out of the ground easily. Separate individual rhizomes from the clump with a garden knife or simply pull them apart with your fingers. Keep only the healthy ones. They're about the size of a thumb. Discard old large rhizomes that have no leaves as well as any soft or rotten ones. Each rhizome you keep should have at least one leaf fan. Cut these leaves back to 4 to 6 inches to help the rhizome adjust more quickly to transplant them. To plan a division, dig a shallow hole then set the rhizome in with the leaf fan pointing up. Next, cover the rhizome lightly with soil and firm it down with your hands. The top of the rhizome should be at or just below the soil surface. If you plant several near each other, space them 12 to 18 inches apart.