Divide iris

Illustrations by Damien Scogin
Divide iris
Tip from the test garden

Refresh clumps of bearded iris and gain new plants by dividing their underground stems (called rhizomes) anytime after bloom; in desert areas, wait until soil cools in fall.

1. With a spading fork or a spade, gently lift rhizomes from the ground and shake off soil. With a knife, cut the parent rhizome into segments so each has its own leaf fan. With pruning shears, trim leaves to about 6 inches.

2. Let cuts heal for a few hours, then replant divisions 1 foot apart so leaf fans are parallel and facing full sun. Set rhizomes barely below the surface; in hot-summer areas, cover with ½ inch of soil.

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