Storing Iris Plants for Winter

Iris plants

Q: I'd like to divide and store my Iris plants for the winter. What is the best way to do this?

A:  Iris plants are best divided after flowering in late spring but no later than August to assure that the roots become adequately established before the onset of cold weather. It is not advisable to remove the rhizomes from the ground and store them indoors for the winter. Iris rhizomes may become soft or develop fungal problems, and will dry out from lack of moisture, if stored indoors. After the plants flower next year in late spring or early summer, separate the rhizomes into segments with one set of leaves in each fan along with at least several healthy roots. Prune the foliage back to approximately six inches and plant the rhizomes approximately one inch deep. Keep in mind that after planting the rhizomes, you will need to water regularly until they are established in the new location.  Allow adequate space in between rhizomes to allow them room to grow and prevent overcrowding, which will lead to lack of blooms.