How to Divide Iris Bulbs

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Irises multiply quickly, and they are best divided with a pitchfork or shovel after cutting the greens. Discover how to work from the outside in when dividing bulbs with help from a sustainable gardener in this free video on dividing iris bulbs.

Part of the Video Series: Flower Bulbs
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Video Transcript

Hi, this is Yolanda Vandeen from and in this segment we're going to talk about how to divide Iris bulbs. Now irises multiply really quickly, and they really like two things, that's sun, good drainage and lots of room to grown. They don't really like the shade so I'm going to divide them back out and move them to another spot. I can use a shovel or I can use a pitchfork, either way and it's really easy to do. So first of all when I'm dividing them out, I have found it's easier to cut the greens before than after because it just makes a mess. And then that way, when you divide them, they're all cleaned up and ready to go. So what I do is just cut the greens down, so that they are, I still can see where they're at, but just clean them up a little bit, maybe clean some of the weeds, some of the area a little bit so you'll know where the bulbs are at. And when you're dividing them too, a rule of thumb is, go from the outside into the inside. And if you have a really, really crowded clump, you just start hacking. And I just, hack as hard as you can, and just divide them back out. So, just try to work your way around too, a lot of times I don't go right into the plant, but when you've got just a mound and you can't get them separated, too, just whack right into the middle of it. So an easy rule of thumb too, is just keep breaking it up. You don't pull them out until you've broken up the ground really well. So just work the whole area really well before you even start and try to divide them out, break them in between wherever they're coming up, because it'll make a lot less work later. And so once you've worked it all up, then it's really easy, the bulbs will come right out. And a lot of times too, pull from the bottom, because every little piece will turn around and grow and so. Unless you've divided them back out you'll find that you'll have all types of babies and every little piece will grow, so the easiest way to separate them is just to twist them, you just twist them apart. So then I'll have a lot of starts, and I'm going to turn around and plant these in a sunnier area so they'll do much better next year.


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