Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dividing and Conquering in the Garden

I thought it would be good to follow the peony articles with one on another of our favorite plants - the iris. The Mail Tribune in Oregon, a state that is home to many very large iris growing operations, includes an article by columnist Stan Mapolski about dividing irises. Splitting irises isn't brain surgery but there are a few things you should know.

When left too long rhizomes can become very tight to a point where it is almost impossible to separate single rhizomes. After digging up the plant it helps to wash the plant off by either spraying with a hose of dunking in a large bucket. Despite what they say in the article, this helps to better identify root divisions and also makes for a cleaner plant if you are planning to ship or give to a friend.

It often works best to start around the perimeter of the plant and removing the looser roots exterior roots. When moving toward the center the roots can become very tight. Though not ideal, when the rhizomes are too tight to separate with your hands, using a sharp knife or small hacksaw can help break apart the roots. We try to incorporate at least three fans in every division. Once divided it is important to cut the leaves to make sure the plant maintains its energy as it recovers from any damage caused during the division.

Some good additional advice is in the article below. Make sure if you are planning to divide to get to it soon because plants will need time to take root before it gets cold. It will be winter before we know it!

Enjoy the heat while we got it!


Divide and conquer for a more vigorous crop of irises
To keep your plants healthy, split and reset them to relieve overcrowding every few years
July 26, 2007
Stan Mapolski, aka The Rogue Gardener

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