Can I dig them up now ?

roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)December 11, 2010

As I was working outside today, I thought that this might be the perfect time to dig up the irises Mrs J planted up on the rocky slope in the back yard. They haven't bloomed for years and are the plants I plan to put into my berm next spring. I know they are alive because they always put up new leaves.

The soil is saturated, so the digging would be easy. My guess is that they are some kind of bearded irises.

I could store them outside on the patio after they have dried out and then plant them after the berm is ready,

Tomorrow is supposed to by sunny and in the 60s. Next week day temps will drop back down into the 40s .. night temps to low 20s.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.



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Dig 'em right up & move them to their new home, being careful not to plant them too deeply (a little of the top of the rhizome at the base of the leaves should be visible) & not to over-water them.

Bearded iris are almost bullet-proof, & although the move may disturb them enough to keep them from blooming this coming spring, it sounds like they wouldn't bloom where they are, anyway, probably over-crowded.

They'll likely bloom the following spring.

Best luck, & have fun!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 3:24PM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Assuming they are Beardeds.............................................

it is actually the wrong time to dig. Right after bloom (prob. May-Jun in your zone) until 6 weeks before the first frost.

Without a good root system there is a greater likelyhood of rot. If you can't leave them there it's better to store them dry, in paper bags, in a protected spot until spring, which is not a great solution but the lesser of 2 evils.

Rocky slopes are the worst for nutrition & watering. I finally got vinca minor established on one.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 7:51PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

I haven't built the berm, yet. I'll be going out to the dredging piles whenever it's not raining and there's no snow on the ground to collect the rocks for the the wall I have to put in place first. Since the native soil is saturated, I planned to build the wall this winter and prepare the soil in the spring and plant the irises there temporarily to see which ones are tall and which ones are medium heights.

Is it OK to let them dry out and then plant them in the spring ?

I think one of the reasons they haven't bloomed is that they haven't been fed for years. That's one of the reasons I want to move them. Getting up to them on the slope is not easy.

I took out the only book our small town library has on irises, which was published in 1986, to find out more about their culture. I have never read such a dull book about plants. Do you know of a good iris book ?


    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 7:54PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)


I can leave them, but the right time to dig them per your post is just before weeks of triple digit temps hit my climate.... and the soil up there is as hard as the rocks !

I have been told that the best time to plant irises up here in the mountains is mid-fall, when the temps drop.

sylviatexas ... you are right about planting on a slope ! Most of the slope is covered with four different cultivars of junipers that have been there for at least 45 years...which is surprisingly effective. In the middle of the juniper beds is where Mrs J planted her irises and some verigated vinca. (I am going to have to figure out what to do with that spot later.) Since the irises weren't blooming, I had planned to dig them up in the spring once the berm was built, but then I got this great idea of doing it now. Should I just leave them until next fall ?

I do have one very steep slope out in front covered with the verigated vinca and thank God it's healthy and doesn't need a lot of care.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 8:17PM
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My two cents is to just leave them until you have a place to plant them. Why put more stress on them then they already have.

I had much the same situation here, we live on the side of a mountain here in Pa. Our soil up here is heavy clay and rock. I happened upon some iris leaves struggling under some bushes on our land, I love iris, so I began digging them up and transplanting them to the gardens I built.

At first I had just seen like fifteen fans coming up in the bad area, but then...

I came to find out the corms had almost covered the entire area, and wound up with well over two hundred fans! The more I dug the more I kept finding hidden corms. They must have been growing there for well over ten years.

They were so happy to be put into good dirt and fed they all went crazy, but, they took a season to grow first in the good dirt and then the next season bloomed their heads off.

I wound up with so many I began trading them for other colors~I can't wait for this season.

great luck~
Hey my name is lynn also

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 4:45PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)


Thank you for the information. I did decide to leave them alone until I got the berm built and moved some clumps of bulbs instead. I know it's the wrong time of year, but I think some of them will make it. I left a few clumps, just in case. I only removed three clumps and ended up with over 100 bulbs. Most of my containers are now full.

The soil will still be wet in Spring, and hopefully I'll have the rock wall built and can amend the soil for the berm and get the irises out of the slope before it turns rock hard. From your post, I may end up with a lot more irises than I thought I would have ... lol.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 3:45PM
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