How to Thin Iris Bulbs

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Irises can get invasive and crowded, and thinning them out is best achieved by working from the outside in. Find out why iris bulbs should be soaked with water before being thinned out with help from a sustainable gardener in this free video on thinning out iris bulbs.

Part of the Video Series: Flower Bulbs
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Video Transcript

Hi! This is Yolanda Vanveen from And in this segment we're going to talk about how to thin out irises. Now, if you have a clump of irises and it's been there awhile, you know how invasive and crowded they can get. And I just planted these irises out a couple of years ago and now they've just kind of multiplied and multiplied. So it's time for me to thin them out and sell some of them. So my rule of thumb when thinning any type of bulbs out is you could try to get into the middle and thin it out that way or work from the outside in. I found that working from the outside in is a little bit easier and it's just takes a lot of patience and a lot of work. So a rule of thumb, too, in the middle of summer the ground is really hard so you if it's really really hard to get in to the ground, soak it with water first. Just run the hose for hours so that the ground is really wet 'cos if you can't take in there it's hard as rock, you're not going to be able to get in there. You can use a pitchfork or you can use a shovel, pretty much anything. And I could found, too, if you can get into the ground right in the middle of it, too, you don't have to dig out the whole thing, you can just take clumps of it out as you go. Okay. Now, I got this nice set of roots and you can divide it back out. I like to cut the greens right away, too, 'cos that way it's easier when you turn around and plant it. Plants, irises love to grow new roots so I can just create my own mulch here, just cut off all the foliage and I've got a nice clump and I can turn around and just separate those back out and I can sell those plants separately and someone's going to really enjoy those in their garden next year. And this going to keep taking clumps out a little bit at a time and before long it'll be thinned out and I'll have bulbs to sell and bulbs to leave in the ground so that they can multiply and I can dig 'em out again next summer.


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