This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

March 19, 2014

How to get free iris plants, by helping a neighbor

Iris do great here in the Phoenix, Arizona area, but they have one small problem - if they get too crowded, they stop blooming. So if you have a clump of iris's that refuse to flower, you have some work to do, digging the clumps up, separating, and replanting.

So, while I have purchased iris bulbs (actually rhizomes) occasionally, the ones that I like best are the ones that have come from a neighbor's yard. And that's because, in addition to seeing beautiful blooms here, I know that my neighbor is seeing them, too. And the only cost is *sweat equity*.

The first time I did this was back in the '90s for my next-door neighbor. She was an elderly widow, and for some reason trusted me to dig up all of her iris plants and subdivide. Of course, the payment to me when I do this is a lot of free bulbs. I've since done this for a lot of people, but some people just look at me suspiciously. You want to do what?

The neighbor who supplied the bulbs for the plant in the photo knew exactly what I was doing. Her iris bed, although still blooming nicely, had become so badly congested it took me two days and I filled up two 5-gallon barrels with bulbs. I planted this one in August, and just found out a few days ago the color of the blooms. There are more planted around The Tropical Paradise, and one is a beautiful yellow, so I am anxious to see them.

No, I don't recommend letting strangers dig around in your garden beds. But if you know someone like me, who grows iris's, then don't be surprised if they will be happy to get all dirty digging around. It's a real win-win situation.
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