This is the right time of year in our area to divide and replant bearded iris, and I had a two foot by six foot bed of ‘Immortality’ bearded iris that needed to be dealt with. The white ‘Immortality’ iris is one of my favorites and has rebloomed reliably in our garden for years. Yesterday was the day to accomplish that big chore. It was unseasonably cool and cloudy which made for more pleasant conditions for the heavy digging that ensued.


‘Immortality’ iris bed, 4/24/2014

In three years since the last division, the few rhizomes I had put in the bed have multiplied enormously. That is one of the characteristics of reblooming irises, and I have learned that they really should be divided every other year, especially in my garden when I plant them too close together. Dividing yesterday required some heavy lifting with my fork. Several clumps over 12 inches were a solid mass of rhizomes. Separating such a clump was difficult and time consuming. Clearly, I am convinced that it is worth the effort.

When I finished removing, dividing, and trimming what I had dug, I counted 170 new plants (not counting several dozen damaged or too small). What I don’t replant I will try to share with friends and neighbors.


One day’s worth of iris divisions

I removed the old soil in the bed down to about 10 inches and filled it with a mixture of topsoil, pine bark soil conditioner, composted cow manure, builder’s sand, Plantone, milorganite, super phosphate, and several other additives. I then planted eighteen divisions and watered them in, being careful to leave the rhizomes visible on top of the soil.


New bed of ‘Immortality’ iris, 7/24/2014

In the past I have mulched my iris beds, but I learned that over time the mulch tends to drift and cover the rhizomes. Covered iris rhizomes don’t seem to bloom so well.

There is something quite special about seeing an iris in bloom in late fall. ‘Immortality’ and its pale yellow cousin ‘Sunny Disposition’ have bloomed in my side garden as late as early December. This photograph of ‘Immortality’ was taken on the 3rd of December!


Perhaps this winter ‘Immortality’ can become the subject of  In a Vase on Monday. I hope I haven’t planted them too close together. And I have a grandson coming along who may just be the right one to do the heavy digging next time.


About johnvic8

John Viccellio retired after 24 years in the U. S. Navy and began to dig into gardening when he could finally land in one place. He completed the Master Gardener course in 1992 and has since designed and constructed two of his own gardens. He wrote a monthly garden column for ten years and was a regular contributor to Carolina Gardener magazine. John published his first book, Guess What's in My Garden!, in 2014. He lives in a retirement community in Matthews, NC.
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9 Responses to Immortality

  1. Splendid work! And everything so neat and tidy now. You have some lucky friends!


  2. This is a great instructive post and a tribute to a beautiful iris that deserves such devotion.


  3. Noell Schepp says:

    I would love to have a rhizome if you would let me. Beautiful white iris. Inspiring gardening lesson. thank you for sharing.


  4. What a beautiful iris! I have a soft spot for white irises and lilies.


  5. Christina says:

    Good work John. I have some ‘Immortality’ too but mine are slow to build uo, I would love a large patch like yours.


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