I always think of iris blooms as being so fleeting. They just do NOT last long, either in the garden or as cut flowers.

But then again, they are SO lovely that of course, I must grow them.


This is one of my very favorite iris in my garden: it was given to me by a friend who had lived here.

Louisiana Iris  and this is ‘teddy bear’

All iris will bloom prolifically for a few years…although the first year you may not get flowers. But after that, and for about four years, the flowers will be wonderful. After about four years (I have found) the rhizomes become large and crowded and the iris need to be divided.

Here are my helpful hints to divide iris:

  1. Use a fork to dig up the iris. You don’t really need to be TOO careful…they will be fine.
  2. Wash them off. Be sure all foliage is cut back to about 5″ above the rhizome.
  3. Often you can simply snap the rhizomes to separate them. Or, use a sharp knife to divide. Sometimes you will get up to 4 new “clumps” from one original, and sometimes only 2.
  4. Be sure to look them over. Discard any that are soft or mealy or seem infected.
  5. Lay them out on newspaper for a few days, keeping them dry.
  6. Replant! Remember, keep them shallow. Plant with the top of the rhizome on about a level with the soil. Planting too deep will discourage growth. Do NOT put mulch on top.
  7. Many people plant each rhizome about one foot apart. I plant mine much closer… sometimes as close as 6″. I will plant 3 or 4 rhizomes in a sort of clump and then allow more room between clumps. I like the way several are close together when they bloom; but this is a personal choice.
  8. Water them well. Remember: deep, less frequent waterings are always better than shallow and more frequent.
  9. Best time of year to do this is August or September. I’ve done it in late winter and almost never have flowers that season.


The one thing that is tricky about iris, and transplanting and dividing them, is how to label them. I’ve tried tying string right near the bottom with a label but somehow it always comes loose. And plastic plant markers tend to get trampled or lost over the season. So, I have found the best thing is to take pictures…lots of them!

Do you have any helpful comments or ideas about dividing iris? We would all love to hear!