Divide Daylilies and Irises for Double the Color

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garden tips by region - divide daylilies

Daylilies and irises are the workhorses of the garden. These easy to grow, durable perennials delight year after year with colorful flowers. After a while even the toughest plants need a little TLC. If your daylilies or irises aren’t blooming as much or are crowded, they need to be divided.

Dividing a Daylily:

  1. Dig when the soil is moist, but not wet.
  2. Pry under and slightly away from the clump of daylilies with a digging fork. Work in a circle and move the fork forward and back to ease roots out. Be careful not to pierce roots.
  3. Lift the clump free and shake off soil.
  4. Using two digging forks, insert back to back into the center of the clump.
  5. Pull the handles of the forks apart, separating the clump into two.
  6. Continue separating into clumps, no smaller than four leaves each.
  7. Trim leaves to 12”.
  8. Replant clumps in holes twice as wide as they are deep.
  9. Add a couple shovelfuls of compost, then fill the hole with soil, gently pressing down.
  10. Water thoroughly.

Dividing an Iris:

  1. Dig when the soil is moist, but not wet.
  2. Pry under and slightly away from the clump of irises with a digging fork. Work in a circle and move the fork forward and back to ease roots out. Be careful not to pierce roots.
  3. Lift the clump free and shake off soil.
  4. Inspect the fleshy roots, which are called rhizomes. Trash soggy, mushy or discolored rhizomes. Do not compost.
  5. Gently pull rhizomes apart without breaking them. Or cut apart with a sharp knife.
  6. Discard rhizomes with flower stalks attached, as these will not bloom again. Keep “baby” ones with smaller fans of leaves growing along the side of this main rhizome.
  7. Trim leaves to 8-10”.
  8. Dig wide, shallow holes 2’ apart. Mix in compost and granular fertilizer.
  9. Replant rhizomes covering only the roots with soil. It’s critical to keep the top part exposed at soil level.
  10. Water.

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