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.
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.
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.
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.