How should I move my irises and day lilies without wrecking them?


I have irises and day lilies in my garden. Now they have moved themselves to the Eastern side of the garden. (surprise, surprise) I need to move them, but don’t want to wreck them. The irises are all hooked together. If I break them, do I lose that part? Also, some of the lilies and the irises have risen to the surface. Do I put more dirt on top of them?


Pamela Hargest, Horticulture Professional

Thanks for getting in touch! If possible, it’s best to move or dig up irises (and other flowering plants) after they’ve bloomed, so typically in the late summer is a good time for irises. You can begin digging them up but cutting the leaves back to about 1/3 of their height, this will direct new plant growth to the roots for better establishment. You should be able to break up the rhizomes with your hands at a joint. If not, you can use a knife to divide them, just be sure that you sanitize the knife in advance. For the lilies and irises that have risen to the surface, you’ll want to cover them with more soil and even some mulch to prevent this from happening again.

For more information about dividing irises, you should check out this article, Dividing Irises, by Penn State Extension.