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I have gotten a few different suggestions on how to move my beloved iris's. For you WI people, we're in the Green Bay area and we're moving to the northwoods, Eagle River area, in two years.
I was told:
1. dig them all up next fall and layer them with mulch in tubs, then bank the tubs with leaves and leave them outside all winter and plant in the spring.
2. dig after blooming and move them to get them settled in so they can winter up there.
I think I'd prefer to dig and replant, but I'll have to plant them in a temporary location until after we build our home and get the landscaping done, then I plan to put them in tiered raised beds, so that would be more digging and moving.
I adore my iris's and I am so worried that I'm going to lose them due to the stress of being moved... what would be the best way?
I attached the max of 5 photos, but I had a dozen different colors blooming this year! Not shown are a tall gorgeous powder blue, a tall white standards with dark purple falls, then shorter (standard or border?) yellow with rusty falls, orangish with rusty falls, lavender with darker purple falls, and solid dark purple.
Then this year I've added Immortality and Batik (to replace the one I lost). A few that didn't produce flowers were a tall amethyst and a tall navy blue, and I'll move both of them since they are in a little more shade than they're happy with. Like I said, I adore bearded iris's! :)
I think it would depend on what time of year you were moving, the best time to dig up any perennials is early spring or early autumn, both times are because there is no really high temps but, the soil in spring is just beginning to warm up, in early autumn, the soil is still a little warm, both these times give the plants plenty time to settle in their roots and perhaps give a good show of flowers come summer, or from autumn the roots get a chance to regrow and build up energy for the following spring / summer.
If I were you I would leave these lovely Iris plants alone for this year, after the season ends next summer, I would lift the tubers, have labels and good quality compost to hand and begin to lift them, make sure you examine all the tuber, cut the foliage back by half, pot up the tubers once you have cleaned them and made sure there is no soft bits or damaged areas or they could rot.
I would store the potted tubers out doors in a sheltered area till you are ready to move later on that year. You will need to water them but over a winter give just enough water to keep the plants alive, otherwise you will be moving very wet heavy plants that may be left in storage for some time or neglected till you sort out other things you need to deal with.
When you pot up the tubers, go to the garden centres and take (free the correct size of trays to fit the pots you have used, that way you will be able to lift anything from 6 to 10 pots in one try at a time, for transportation too it is a better way to move plants, with care you should be able to make a stacking system for a good few layers of trays even IF it means using stout bits of wood stuck into 4 pots to make a kind of shelf to stack another tray of plants on top till they reach there new destination, soon as you get there, unpack all the plants, they should have been kept cool and almost dry for there journey to there new home.
The can sit in there pots and in the trays for another long while so long as you care for them and dont allow them to dry out as the weather warms up OR remove from the pot and heal them into a prepared bed till you have time to site them where they are to grow on, make sure they are fed and watered while set out in the ground at new place as they will want to grow and not wait for you too long.
Hope this gives you some ideas re moving plants and good luck for the new home you are about to build, I had to do the same as you are embarking on and I just cleared a nursery bed area for all the plants I had prepared and potted up over the year before we moved. Plants are expensive and some are favourites so it's best to do the job right than leave it all to chance.
Best Regards. WeeNel.
For shorter term storage my 84 year old mom and her sisters have done it this way. I can't believe it's worked, maybe if you have extras you could give it a try.
Dig them up, snap them into pieces that have 5 leaves (like fingers), a plump tuber and hairy roots. Cut the fingers down to about five inches, they take a sharpie and write the color of the flower in the fingers!
They treat them like you would a potatoes, cool I the basement. The iris can stay this way for over a month, planted later summer and fall and they come up the next year.