How to Plant and Store Iris Bulbs


Iris comes in many varieties, ranging from 2-foot-tall dwarf types to the tall and stately bearded iris. The large, drooping blooms of the iris are available in many colors to add interest to your beds and garden borders. Irises do not require winter storage as they overwinter fine in the ground. They might require temporary storage if purchased too early in spring, or after dividing if the new bed is not ready for them first. As they are not suited to long term storage, it is best to prepare the bed for planting as soon as possible.

Step 1

Brush off any excess dirt from recently dug up rhizomes. Inspect them for any soft spots or other signs of rot and dispose of the damaged pieces.

Step 2

Place iris roots into perforated plastic bags. Store them in the refrigerator, away from any fruits, until ready to replant. Alternately, store them in a 45 to 50 degree Farenheit dry room.

Step 3

Plant the rhizomes in late summer or early fall. Choose a well-draining garden bed in full sunlight for your irises.

Step 4

Loosen the soil in the garden bed to a 10-inch depth using a hoe or power tiller prior to planting. Till in a 2-inch layer of compost to improve drainage if necessary, as iris do not tolerate wet soils.

Step 5

Plant the rhizome with the buds facing up. Dig a shallow hole and set the rhizome in it so the top of it sits right at the surface of the soil. Water it well after planting to close any air holes in the soil around it.

Step 6

Cover the iris plants with a 4-inch layer of straw mulch after the ground begins to freeze. This protects them from the cold and prevents the freezing and thawing ground from heaving them out of the soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Too much moisture is the primary cause of iris death, as it causes the roots to rot. Remove any garden debris or mulch on top of the rhizomes because this will cause retention of too much moisture.

Things You'll Need

  • Perforated bags
  • Hoe
  • Compost
  • Straw mulch


  • University of Illinois Extension: Storing Iris/Planting
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Iris
Keywords: planting iris, storing iris rhizome, growing iris

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.