Planting Bearded Iris

September 19, 2007

During the first week of September I finally got around to planting my bearded iris rhizomes that were given to me when I helped a friend dig up her iris bed.

Here are the BJ NOIDs, irises that my friend received from a woman named BJ whose irises have lost their ID names:

Here are the Australian NOIDs:

I had soaked the BJ and Aussie NOIDs for half an hour in a bleach solution of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water to prevent rot and infestation from iris borers.

And here are a few named varieties I was given: an Oddbod, a Dorothy Davenport, a Rockstar and three Grandma’s Hat.  You can see the names written on one of the fans of the rhizome.  I didn’t give these ones a bleach bath as I had received them just before planting.

I decided to cut back some of the leaf fan so that the weight of the leaves wouldn’t cause the newly-planted iris to fall over in the wind.  Here is one iris that I started with:

I trimmed off the dead parts of the fan using scissors or my fingers when it was quite dry:

Then I made two snips with my scissors to create a pointy arrow, leaving approximately 3″ – 4″ left of the fan.

I decided that I wanted a clump of iris at different points in my flower bed.  I picked spots where I knew the iris would get at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.  Once I had my spots picked out I started to plant the rhizomes.

First I brushed away a small area of soil, approximately 12″ x 12″, to create a level surface 2″ into the soil.  I gathered soil under the palm of my hand and created a small raised area by cupping my hand ontop of the soil surface:

I placed the rhizome ontop of the raised soil and tried to evenly spread the roots out around the circle.  Spreading the roots helps the rhizome to anchor itself into the soil.

Holding the top of the fan I pulled back the soil over the roots to cover them, making sure that the top of the rhizome was level with or only slightly below the soil surface.  If you plant them too deep they may rot or not flower next year.

Then I pressed down on the soil around the rhizome to make sure that the roots made good contact with the soil and also to help secure the iris into the ground.

I planted the irises into three-rhizome clumps that were spaced approximately 6″ away from each other.  I’m not sure but I think they may have been too close to each other.  I also cut a mini blind and labeled each three-iris clump.

Then I watered them every day for a week and promptly forgot about them.  Squirrels decided to see how the BJ NOIDs tasted and dug a few of them up twice, leaving the irises all exposed and showing their roots in the morning.  I tried to replant some of them but ended up losing two rhizomes to those varmints.  The next day I sprayed the irises with my noxious-smelling Salmon Fertilizer and that seems to have done it.  My irises are now unmolested and sitting pretty in my flower beds.

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2 Responses to “Planting Bearded Iris”

  1. Jackie Says:

    Ahhh, now all you have to do is wait for spring, and then enjoy the lovely colors. Irises are a favorite of mine – the colors – the height – even the green that’s left when the flowers are spent. And I like the nostalgic feeling they give me, for my grandmother’s house.


  2. Nice demonstration piece.

    Some of my iris are fanning out again (planted around the first / second week of August) and I promptly forgot them around week 2 as well.

    Thankfully iris seem to thrive on a little neglect.


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