Dividing your spring perennials – with ease and success! And all about growing Irises.

Our May 23rd, 2023 garden meet up will focus on your favourite spring flowers:

Irises & Dividing Spring Perennials

2 Guest Speakers will be Joining us for this May Gardens monthly meeting at the Longbranch Public Library:
Monika Meulman – Iris Steward at your Service
Suzanne Zacharczyk – Master Gardener 

Garden Meeting Details:

Date: Tuesday, May 23rd, 2023

Time: 6:30-8pm

Location: Long branch Public Library

3500 Lake Shore Boulevard West,
Toronto, ON  M8W 1N6

Irises – All about these stately, sturdy, colourful, spring plants.

Are they tubers? bulbs? roots? What are they? Why are they so popular?

Irises have enjoyed renowned fame since the late 1880s, when Vang Gogh chose them as his life study and painted the celebrated art piece: Irises, 1889
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853 – 1890). Learn more about the origins of this art and its journey through art collections at the Getty Museum listing here.

light purple iris in our pollinator garden

Light lilac Irises in our Pollinator Path Garden. Come and see the garden through the seasons, as we grow our diversity and support pollinators all year long.

We received a #pollinateTO grant this year (2023) Our gardens are growing!

IRIS Key Identifying Details

  • They are Perennials
  • Grow Rhizomes (most climates)
  • Grow Bulbs (dry climates)
  • 6 Lobed Flowers – 3 sepals, 3 petals

What is a rhizome? 

– rhizome is a modified subterranean plant stem that sends out roots and shoots from its nodes. Rhizomes are also called creeping rootstalks or just rootstalks. Rhizomes develop from axillary buds and grow horizontally. The rhizome also retains the ability to allow new shoots to grow upwards.

  • crucial function of rhizomes is the underground storage of nutrients to provide the plants with energy during the winter

Examples of edible rhizomes: potatoes, ginger, turmeric even…nettle and mint!

Irises donated by our neighbours – so many went to good green thumb homes this spring

What is a bulb? — by the way, a rhizome is a type of bulb

  • refers to plants that have underground, fleshy storage structures
  • definition of a bulb is any plant that stores its complete life cycle in an underground storage structure.

Did you know:

Spring bulbs start to grow again in the fall and flower the following growing season

Rhizome Irises 

3-10 basal sword shaped leaves (clumping)

Bulbous Irises

2-10 narrow leaves from bulb

How to Grow

  • Grow well in temperate regions
  • Bloom in February to May, depending on region
  • Any garden soil type
  • Need good drainage
  • Divide most types in summer 
  • Move only between July to September
  • Divide every 2-3 years or when congested (see star pattern)
  • Divide 1-2 months after blooming
  • Many gardener’s use Comet scouring powder and/or 1/9 Parts Bleach in Water to clean tools, cuts and rhizomes before planting

Dangers – minimal

Look for Iris borer in root or root rot before transplanting

Have wagon, will deliver Irises to your front door.

Dividing Perennials and Propagating with Success

Master Gardener, Suzanne Zacharczyk, will talk about dividing and propagating perennials, bulbs etc and answer your gardening questions.

When to divide? How to divide?
What plants thrive after division?
How is propagation different from division? What’s the difference?

Be Successful Key Points:

timing matters
plants need water more than you!
technique is important
clean tools save you!

Image Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/top-view-photo-of-gardening-tools-4503269/
dividing your spring perennials and propagating plants

Time your Perennial Division right!

Did you know that soil type, varietal of plant and the weather directly affect your success?

All your questions answered and as always: refreshments, seeds to exchange and maybe even some seedlings! Come join us.

spring and summer 'carpet' flowering perennials quickly overgrow their home. when to divide them? snow in summer
To divide or not divide… that is the burning question on the dedicated gardener’s mind!

Fun in the garden is the healthiest way to live.

Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.
~Lou Erickson~

What do you get if you divide the circumference
of a pumpkin by its diameter?

Pumpkin pi.


Fun Facts:

The word Iris comes from the Greek word for …?


Iris flowers are second most popular in USA and UK, second to what flower that is the most loved?  Rose

Did you know: 

many centuries ago, in Japan, growing Irises was forbidden in gardens 

There’s no such thing as a Red Iris in Nature. 

In San Polo (Venice)  has an annual celebration in early May where irises are celebrated with the Giaggiolo Feast. There is a competition with several prizes, with the most important being the Florence Prize: the iris closest to the color red of the fleur-de-lis on the Florentine coat of arms, wins! Since red irises do not exist naturally, this award is an ongoing challenge because no one has been able to present a red iris.

Side fact: San Polo (Venetian for Paolo)
Oldest neighborhood of Venice –  vibrant, tiny San Polo is the smallest of the 6 Venice sestieri, covering less than 100 acres 


Irises have Rhizomes T

T or F 

Some Irises are Bulbous  T 

T or F 

Ornamental Irises are also called Rhizomatous T

T or F

All Irises have beards  F

T or F

Fuzzy hairs at the base of each falls petal give pollinators a landing place and guide them to the nectar

T or F

Irise genus is the largest of family Iridaceae 

With many natural hybrids (with 6 total subgenera recognized) 

The beard short hairs look like long furry caterpillars T

T  or F 

Which of the following is not a celebrated Iris variety? Thames

  • Bumblebee Deelite
  • Thames Duchess
  • Maui Moonlight
  • Orinoco Flow

There are more than _________ cultivars of bearded Iris: 30K

  • 15 500 
  • 30 000
  • 22 000
  • 50 000

Giardino dell’Iris – A botanical garden specializing in the cultivation of iris flowers, Florence, Italy  since 1251

  • 1392
  • 1251
  • 1455
  • 1610

Giardino dell’Iris – Iris garden in Florence is open during what season? 


 Bonus Question follow up

For how long is it open each year?

5 days

20 days

45 days

Perfume & Medicine

Bombay Sapphire gin contains flavoring derived from particular bearded iris species Iris germanica and Iris pallida.

Provincial flower of Québec (Canada) is the harlequin blueflag (I. versicolor)

 called iris versicolore in French.

IRIS References: