Tips on Storing Iris Rhizomes to Ensure Their Survival During Winter


When it comes to caring for iris plants during the winter, one important task is to store the iris rhizomes properly. Choosing the right time to dig up iris rhizomes is essential to ensure their healthy storage. Inspecting the rhizomes before storage is also crucial to identify any section that may require division or removal of pests. If you’re planning on transplanting iris rhizomes in the summer or fall, timing is vital to guarantee their successful growth when replanting.

Before storing iris rhizomes, it is important to clean them thoroughly and inspect for any signs of pest infestations or diseases. If you notice any mold or pests, it’s best to remove them to minimize the risk of spreading to other rhizomes. To store the iris rhizomes, follow these general guidelines:

First, gently dig up the iris rhizomes, being careful not to damage them. Place them on a clean surface and carefully remove any soil or debris from the rhizomes. Inspect each rhizome individually and remove any damaged or dried sections.

Next, prepare a well-draining soil mix in a container or box. The ideal soil mix should have additional components like sand, peat moss, or perlite to maintain proper moisture levels.

Place the cleaned and inspected iris rhizomes in the container, ensuring they’re not touching each other to prevent the spread of diseases or pests. Sprinkle some soil mix between the rhizomes to offer support and stability.

Store the container with the iris rhizomes in a cool, dry, and dark location throughout the winter. The temperature should ideally be around 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit (4-10 degrees Celsius). Monitor the moisture levels of the soil periodically to ensure the rhizomes stay adequately moist but not overly wet.

In early spring or late winter, inspect the stored iris rhizomes again. If any rhizomes show signs of rot or mold, remove them immediately to prevent the spread of diseases. Healthy and firm rhizomes can be replanted in the ground following the recommended planting guidelines for your specific iris variety.

Following these storage and caring steps for iris rhizomes will help ensure the health and quality of your iris blooms when their blooming season arrives in late spring or summer.

In general, iris rhizomes can be quite resilient, making them relatively easy to store and transport. However, proper care and attention to the timing of digging, inspecting, cleaning, and storing the rhizomes can make a significant difference in their overall health and ability to bloom beautifully year after year. For more information on iris rhizome storage and care, consult your local gardening extension or refer to the comprehensive guide provided by K-State Research and Extension.

Store Iris Rhizomes for Later by Yvonne Schneider

When it comes to maintaining your iris rhizomes for the winter, it is important to follow a step-by-step guide to ensure their health and proper storage. By following these tips, you can easily store iris rhizomes and enjoy their beauty for years to come.

Step 1: Digging Up the Rhizomes

To start, use a spade or fork to carefully dig up the iris rhizomes. Be sure to gently separate them from the soil, keeping the foliage intact as much as possible.

Step 2: Cleaning and Preparation

After digging up the rhizomes, clean off any excess dirt and debris by gently brushing or rinsing them with water. This will help remove any pests or diseases that may be present. Trim any damaged or dead foliage, and make sure the rhizomes are completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Dividing the Rhizomes (Optional)

If your iris rhizomes have grown into a large circle or clump, dividing them can help maintain their health and promote longer blooming periods. Use a sharp knife to carefully divide the rhizomes into smaller sections, making sure each section has at least one healthy fan of leaves attached.

Step 4: Storage Container and Medium

Choose an appropriate container for storing the iris rhizomes. Plastic boxes with lids work well, as they provide a controlled environment. Line the bottom of the container with a layer of quality potting soil, vermiculite, or perlite to help maintain moisture and prevent rotting.

Step 5: Placing the Rhizomes

Place the iris rhizomes on top of the medium, making sure not to overcrowd them. Leave some space between each rhizome to prevent mold and rot from developing.

Step 6: Monitoring and Maintenance

To keep the stored iris rhizomes healthy, monitor the moisture levels and temperature regularly. Use a hygrometer to check the humidity, and water lightly if needed. Keep the container in a cool and dark location, such as a basement or garage, with temperatures around 40 to 50°F (4 to 10°C).

Step 7: Replanting in the Spring

In the spring, when the danger of frost has passed and the weather is consistently cool, you can replant the iris rhizomes in the garden. Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil and follow the general guidelines for planting iris rhizomes to ensure their successful growth.

By following these steps, you can store iris rhizomes for later use and enjoy their beauty year after year. With proper preparation and maintenance, your iris rhizomes will stay healthy and vibrant, creating a beautiful display of colors in your garden.

Making a Storage Box

When it comes to storing iris rhizomes for the long winter months, a quality storage box can make all the difference. By planting your iris rhizomes in a well-made storage box, you can ensure they’re kept safe and sound until it’s time to replant them in the spring.

Here’s a step-by-step process for making your own iris rhizome storage box:

Step Description
1 Choose a sturdy storage box that is long enough to accommodate the iris rhizomes without overcrowding.
2 Drill a few holes in the bottom of the storage box to ensure proper drainage and prevent excess moisture buildup.
3 Line the bottom of the storage box with a layer of high-quality potting soil.
4 Place the iris rhizomes in the storage box, ensuring that they’re not touching each other and that their foliage is facing up.
5 Fill the rest of the storage box with potting soil, making sure that the rhizomes are completely covered.
6 Monitor the humidity level in the storage box and adjust accordingly by adding more or less water.
7 Inspect the rhizomes regularly for any signs of damage or disease.
8 When the timing is right (early spring is usually the best time), you can now start replanting the iris rhizomes.
9 If the iris rhizomes have dried out during the storing process, soak them in water for a few hours before replanting.
10 Before replanting, you can also choose to dip the rhizomes in a sulfur solution to prevent any potential diseases.

By following these tips and maintaining a well-made storage box, you can ensure that your iris rhizomes stay healthy and vibrant throughout the winter. Remember to be careful when handling the rhizomes and take the necessary steps to prevent any damage. With proper storage and replanting, your iris rhizomes will continue to grow and thrive for years to come.

Now that you know how to make your own iris rhizome storage box, you can enjoy the benefits of a successful iris gardening season without the risk of losing your precious flowers. So get started on making your storage box now, and start planning for a beautiful garden next year!

Choose Candidates for Storage

When it comes to storing iris rhizomes for the winter, it’s important to choose healthy and robust candidates. These rhizomes should be free from any diseases or damage, ensuring a better chance of survival during the storage period.

Start by inspecting the foliage of your iris plants. Look for plants that have strong and healthy foliage, as this is an indication of a well-nourished plant. If the foliage appears weak or has signs of disease, it’s best to avoid storing those rhizomes.

Next, use a shovel to carefully dig up the iris rhizomes. Be sure to dig deep enough to avoid damaging the roots. Once the rhizomes are out of the ground, gently shake off any excess soil. Avoid watering the rhizomes before storage, as this can lead to rot and other problems.

It’s also important to choose iris rhizomes that have reached their ideal size before storage. Research the specific variety of iris you have to determine the ideal size for storage. Generally, iris rhizomes should reach a certain size before they’re ready for storage, as smaller rhizomes may not have enough stored nutrients to survive the winter.

Once you have chosen the candidates for storage, it’s important to understand the timing of the storage process. Ideally, iris rhizomes should be stored after the first frost but before the ground freezes completely. This timing ensures that the rhizomes have entered their dormant phase, making them more resistant to freezing temperatures.

Now that you have selected the iris rhizomes for storage and understand the timing of the process, it’s time to prepare them for storage. Start by removing any dead or decaying foliage, as this can attract pests and diseases. Cut off the foliage, leaving about an inch of stem. This will help prevent diseases from spreading during the storage period.

Next, prepare the storage containers or bags. Bearded iris rhizomes should be stored in cardboard boxes or paper bags, as these materials provide better air circulation. Other types of iris can be stored in plastic bags, as long as they have some holes for ventilation.

Before placing the rhizomes in the storage containers, ensure that the containers are clean and dry. This will help prevent any unwanted pests or diseases from contaminating the rhizomes. You can also add some mulching material to the containers, such as peat moss or sawdust, to help maintain moisture levels and prevent the rhizomes from drying out.

Once your containers or bags are prepared, carefully place the iris rhizomes inside, making sure there is plenty of space between them. Avoid overcrowding the containers, as this can lead to rot and fungal growth. Seal the containers or bags and label them with the variety or color of the rhizomes for easier identification when replanting.

While the iris rhizomes are in storage, it’s important to monitor their condition. Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity levels inside the storage containers. Ideally, the humidity should be around 50-60%. If the rhizomes appear to be drying out, you can lightly mist them with water to maintain the moisture levels.

With the right candidates chosen for storage and the proper steps taken to prepare and maintain them, you can be confident that your iris rhizomes will stay healthy and ready for replanting come springtime. Taking some simple precautions now can help ensure a successful iris garden for years to come.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.