Walking Iris Division – How And When To Transplant Neomarica

walking iris
Image by L-Hamilton

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Walking iris (Neomarica gracillis) is a sturdy, warm-climate plant that enhances the garden with fans of pale green, lance-shaped foliage and small, fragrant flowers that bloom prolifically through spring, summer and autumn. The blooms aren’t long-lasting, but they add a spark of bright color to those semi-shady spots in your landscape. If your walking iris plants have outgrown their boundaries, or if they aren’t blooming as well as they once did, it may be time to divide and conquer.

When to Transplant Neomarica Walking Iris

Walking iris is a sturdy plant that tolerates transplantation nearly any time during the growing season. Many people prefer to divide the plant in autumn; however, if you live in a cold climate, it’s a good idea to get the job done a couple of months before the first freeze. This allows time for the roots to settle in before the advent of cold weather.

You can also transplant walking iris in early spring, soon after the last freeze. Avoid transplanting when the weather is hot, as high temperatures can stress the plant.

How to Divide Walking Iris Plants


Transplanting walking iris isn’t difficult, nor is walking iris division. Just dig around the circumference of the plant with a garden fork or spade, prying upward as you go to loosen the roots.

Lift the clump carefully and brush off loose soil so you can see the roots and rhizomes, then pull the plant carefully into sections. Each section should have several healthy roots and at least four or five leaves. Discard any old, nonproductive sections.

Walking iris is happiest in a location with well-drained soil and partial sunlight or broken, filtered light. Don’t bother adding compost or manure to the soil, but a handful of balanced garden fertilizer will enhance plant growth.

If your walking iris is growing in a container, remove the plant carefully from the pot, then divide it and plant the divisions in a pot filled with fresh potting mix. Be sure the pot has a drainage hole in the bottom.

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