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Ultimate Guide to Transplanting Iris

I thank my lucky stars that let me witness these beautiful Irises when I open my windows in the morning—also, kudos to that friend who introduced me to transplanting Iris.

My clueless brain was happy with the blooms and did not think about doing anything else for the Iris plant.

Generally, it would be best to transplant the Iris in mid to late summer when the plant’s rhizomes become too crowded. For transplanting, remove the rhizome from the soil, pull it apart using your hands, and then plant the divisions separately.

Iris Flower
You need to divide the rhizomes of Iris for this plant to stay healthy.

As an avid Iris lover, I had to know about transplanting Iris. I did intensive research and successfully found a way to transplant this beautiful plant.

Lucky for you to stumble upon this post, so you would not have to be clueless like me. Read on to find out everything about transplanting an iris.

Ideal Time for Transplanting Iris

Iris is a wonderful perennial plant that is most often the first plant to bloom during spring.

It takes almost two years to mature and produce blooms, while the flower lasts about two to three weeks.

However, to witness beautiful blooms and ensure that the plant grows full-fledged, you need to make sure that you transplant the Iris in time.

The best time to transplant Iris is from July to September (mid to late summer) after the plant has stopped blooming.

Iris Plant Flower
Iris produces beautiful and colorful blooms to add charms to your garden.

If you divide the plant at the right time, you can extend the blooming period to about four weeks.

Once transplanted, the Irises do not need another transplant for about 3 to 4 years.

Fun fact: Iris was named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow, Iris.

Be aware that you should not transplant the Iris in winter, as the soil is wet and the plant goes dormant.

Also, ensure your Iris has finished blooming before you transplant them, or the flower bulbs will drop, resulting in poor flowering.

Why Should you Transplant Iris?

I have already talked about how beautiful the flowers of this plant are. But have you seen the foliage?

The leaves of Iris are folded together and have long erect structures. Even without the flowers, they possess a magnificent structure.

There are two types of Iris plants: Bulbous and Rhizomatous. Rhizomatous Iris has thick underground stems, which can sometimes get crowded and hinder the plant’s growth.

Generally, when the rhizomes get too crowded and affect the plant’s development, you must divide and transplant them to revitalize them.

Iris Rhizomes
If the rhizomes get too crowded, you need to divide them and plant the divisions.

In addition to reviving your plant, splitting the roots will give you a quicker way to divide it.

The Iris plant will also display signs of stress and let you know when it’s time to transplant it.

  • The number of flowers significantly decreases in the plant.
  • You may be able to witness the rhizomes trying to stick out of the ground.
  • The plant and flowers will grow around the crowded rhizomes but not on top of it.
  • The number of pests significantly increases near the root area of your Iris.
  • If you dig up the plant, you will see the rhizomes tangled.

Catch up early on the above signs and transplant your Iris at the right time.

How to Divide and Transplant Iris?

The first thing you need to be able to do is to know how to identify rhizomes.

Rhizomes are the horizontal stems of the plant that have nodes. Unlike roots, that has ‘expanding’ growth, rhizomes grow perpendicular to the plant.

To divide an Iris plant, you must remove the entire plant from the ground along with its rhizomes and pull them apart with your hands.

While dividing and transplanting, keep your and the plant’s safety in mind and use the proper tools and equipment.

Look below for the tools you need to amass for the transplantation process.

Materials Required for Transplanting Iris

Gather the pieces of equipment below to make sure the journey runs smoothly.

Materials RequiredTheir Purpose
ShovelTo dig up the plant
Pruning ShearsTo trim off the unnecessary parts of the plant
Gardening KnifeTo divide sturdy rhizomes
Gardening GlovesTo protect the hands
Rubbing AlcoholTo disinfect the tools
Fungicides for IrisTo fumigate the rhizomes in case of any fungal infection

After you have gathered everything above, you can continue with the transplanting process.

Steps to Divide Iris Rhizomes

First, you need to get the Rhizome bundle out of the soil. Use your shovel to get the plant out.

You can store the rhizomes out of the soil for about 15 days before they go bad.

Let us look at the steps you must follow to divide the rhizomes without major damage.

  • Take a shovel and take the plant clump out of the soil.
  • Remove all the dirt from around the rhizome.
  • The rhizome’s thickness must be as much as your thumb.
  • Grab the rhizome at their two ends and pull, applying tensile strength.
  • If the rhizome is very big, you can break it into more than two pieces.
Iris Rhizome
Iris rhizomes can get together in clusters and get very complex.
  • The rhizome is usually breakable, but if it is too big, you can use a knife to cut through it.
  • You can discard the central, woody part of the rhizome completely.
  • If an Iris borer infects the rhizome, it would be best to destroy it.
  • The preferred size of the divisions is from four to eight inches.

If you do not want to plant the rhizomes right away, wrap them in newspaper or peat moss and store them until you are ready to plant them.

You can also let your bulbs dry out. But make sure you give them a good soak before planting them again.

After successfully dividing the rhizome, let us get to the transplant part.

Steps to Transplant Iris Rhizomes

If you follow my advice, I recommend not storing the rhizomes for too long after they have been divided.

The rhizome contains the moisture and nutrients necessary for the growth of a new plant. If you store them for too long, the rhizome will lose moisture.

Follow the steps below to transplant the rhizomes after division.

  • Gather the divisions you made and check whether they have some leaves and roots on them or not.
  • Trim the leaves to the size of about 6 inches.
  • Look for the perfect location to plant the freshly divided rhizome.
  • Upturn the soil in that location and mix organic matter to the soil for increased yield.
  • Use your shovel and dig a hole at least one inch bigger than the rhizome of Iris.
Iris from divided rhizome
Iris can grow pretty fast if you plant the divided rhizome in perfect conditions.
  • It would be helpful to create a soil mound to plant your Iris.
  • Plant the rhizome so that the top of the rhizome is exposed and peeks from the soil line.
  • While mass-planting, keep a distance of 1-2 feet between the planted rhizomes.
  • Tighten the soil around the rhizome and water it thoroughly.

To give your garden a good look, you can plant anywhere from 6 to 25 Iris rhizomes, depending on the size of your lawn.

You need to follow the similar steps above to transplant Irises in pots. Just make sure you use well-draining, fertile soil and place the pot somewhere sunny.

In about a week or two, you will witness a new leaf sprouting at the center of your Iris.

Smaller rhizomes take about two years to bloom; however, larger rhizomes take much less time.

Caring for Iris After Transplanting

After successfully transplanting Iris, you must continue to care for them.

Look below for the tips you need to follow to ensure your Iris grows healthy.

  • Water the plant regularly before it produces new growths. After that, water it sparingly.
  • Clean your garden regularly to stop the Iris borers from completing their lifecycle.
  • Trim the transplanted foliage to soil level and let it grow at its own pace.
  • Ensure your plants get at least 6 hours of full sunlight for proper growth.
Iris in sun
Iris plants need full sun for 6-8 hours daily to produce blooms and grow unhindered.
  • Keep the humidity around your plant to 40 to 50% for proper growth.
  • Plant your Iris divisions in neutral to acidic, well-draining, and fertile soil.
  • Avoid using chemical fertilizers in your plants and use organic alternatives instead.
  • Iris is at high risk from the Mosaic virus. As there is no treatment for the virus, you better prevent your plant from getting affected.

Common Problems in Transplanted Iris

Transplanted Irises will grow peacefully and provide you with better yields. But in this course, they may encounter some problems.

Let us look at the problems and the reasons for them.

  • Transplanted Iris may not bloom due to several factors like lack of soil fertility, unhealthy rhizomes, diseases or pests attack, poor garden conditions, and bad weather.
  • Transplanted Iris may turn yellow due to transplant shock, excessive humidity, lack of sunlight, or extreme cold temperature.
  • Transplanted Iris plants may start wilting due to excessive fertilization, insufficient sunlight, rhizome rot disease, and crown rot.
  • Scorching in Transplanted Iris may occur due to excessive fertilizer use, too much sun, and inadequate watering.

Watch the video for more tips,


Iris can add a touch of beauty to your garden, thanks to its multi-colored flowers.

To keep their allure, you must recognize when they require a good rhizome division and seize the opportunity.

Just trust the process. Good luck!

Did you know? Iris is a perennial that can grow well in Zone 4. Look at other plants that share the same feature.

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