Daylily, Dutch Iris – Dividing

Q: I have a lot of Daylilies and Dutch Iris that have been taken over by the weeds, blackberry plants, and little trees. I want to dig and divide the best I can and share with family and friends. When is the best time to dig and divide and can they be left out of the ground a few weeks before re planting?

A: I was faced with the same situation this spring. My daylily bed had been invaded by the weedy nuisance, Chameleon Plant (Houttuynia cordata ‘Variegata’). I dug up the daylilies, washed the soil from the clump, disentangled the Chameleon Plant roots from the daylilies and planted the flowers in a new spot. Seldom have I felt as justified in using a non-selective weed killer on a plant as when I sprayed that cursed Chameleon Plant afterwards.

I occasionally see the Chameleon menace sold at garden centers and I just want to stand by the display and warn people away from this attractive but invasive pest.

But to get back to your question: now is a fine time to dig and divide Dutch iris. You could leave the bulbs out of the ground for a few weeks but I’d prefer they go back into the ground as soon as possible.

Some of your daylilies might be blooming but I think I’d clip off the flower stems, leaving the foliage on, and move them too while you have the impulse. Don’t leave the daylily roots out very long. If they can’t be planted in a garden immediately, put them temporarily into a surplus plastic pot until the new bed is ready.

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