How to Divide Irises

Video by Diana Koehm, Technical Editor: Danielle Sherry, Video Edit: Christine Alexander

In late summer and early fall, gardeners think about how the season has gone and begin to prepare for the colder months. The furthest thing from your mind may be spring flowers. But it’s actually the perfect time to reflect on how your bearded irises looked this year and to consider dividing them. Did you notice your irises producing fewer flowers? Is your clump looking raggedy and overgrown? Or has it simply been a long time since your irises were divided? Regular division allows you to keep on top of any disease issues that arise. It also keeps your irises healthy and producing flowers reliably. Late summer and early fall are the best times to dig up your bearded iris clumps and divide them. Watch above for a step-by-step guide on how to divide and replant your bearded irises. Read on here for even more information.


Materials needed

  • Small saw or soil knife
  • Pruners
  • Shovel
  • Spray bottle full of 50% bleach and 50% water


Steps to dividing your bearded irises

  1. Using a shovel, dig up entire clump.
  2. Shake the dirt off as much as you can.
  3. Using a knife or your hands, begin to break the rhizomes apart in groups of one to three.
  4. Identify any diseased rhizomes, and lay those out separately.
  5. Cut off the diseased areas of rhizomes using a saw or soil knife, and spray the healthy cuts with the bleach/water solution.
  6. Using pruners, cut the foliage down by half.
  7. Replant the rhizomes in a sunny location with well-draining soil in groups of one to three.
  8. Water the divisions in well. Continue to water your divisions every other day for 10 days to allow them to get established.
  9. Divide bearded irises every three to five years for optimum health.


Finished dividing and have more rhizomes than you know what to do with? Consider giving some to family and friends. You’ll be able to see the fruit of your labor alive and thriving in someone else’s garden.


View Comments


  1. geather2002 08/23/2020

    Thanks for the tips on dividing irises. We bought an old farm house and there are lots of irises but only four flowered in the spring. Hoping if I divide them we'll get more next year. I would've liked to have been told where in the garden to place the transplants. My current plants are growing beneath cedars. Do they appreciate a certain type of soil and are they shade lovers? Thanks, again.

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