How to take care of irises when the flower dies

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How to take care of irises when the flower dies
Irises are available in a multitude of colour combinations. (Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Irises bloom on long, slender stems above a fan of rich green foliage. These hardy perennials return each year, increasing in size and abundance in blooms. Decreased blooms or overcrowded rhizomes -- a swollen root similar to tubers or bulbs that store food for next year's blooms -- indicate that it's time to divide the plants. Irises require minimal care other than occasional pruning and light mulch for winter.

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Things you need

  • Garden clippers or sharp knife
  • Garden fork or spade
  • Hay or straw mulch

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove flowers when the colour fades or petals drop. Cut the stem to the base of the plant with a pair of garden clippers or a sharp knife.

  2. 2

    Divide overcrowded irises after they bloom in the late summer or early autumn. Cut foliage back to 15 cm (6 inches). Dig under the entire clump with a spade or garden fork and lift the plant free from the soil. Shake excess soil from the rhizomes and roots. Place irises in a shaded, dry area for 24 hours to dry. Brush off dried soil.

  3. 3

    Separate rhizomes so that each section has at least one eye -- a small indentation where a bud forms. Generally, a shoot of foliage will be present at the eye. You can pull some rhizomes apart by hand, but you will have to cut others with a sharp knife.

  4. 4

    Plant rhizomes in a prepared bed with similar soil and lighting as the original growing location. Place in loose soil so the top of the rhizome is 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) above the soil level. Spread out the roots at the bottom of the rhizome on to the soil. Cover all roots. Water thoroughly.

  5. 5

    Prune mature irises that have not recently been transplanted back to 15 cm (6 inches) from the ground in the autumn.

  6. 6

    Mulch irises with 7.5 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches) of hay or straw to prevent damage from freezing and thawing during winter months.

Tips and warnings

  • Irises transplanted in late summer or early autumn bloom the following spring or summer.
  • Water irises during periods of drought.
  • Apply balanced fertiliser after irises bloom if foliage lacks rich green colour.

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