Move plants when temperature permits


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Q. There are lots of iris, tulip and daffodil that have come up at the house I just bought. When can I move them to a new spot? Can I replant this coming summer or should I wait until fall? What do I do with them if I need to wait until fall to replant?

A. Generally speaking, if you need to replant now, then go ahead and move them when the temperature permits. You missed this window so move them now. Although it might not be the best time to move them, you may not have many alternatives.

Iris is a pretty simple matter and does well here. I would lift them as gently as possible and move them without dividing them. Normally, we might lift them in the fall, from mid-September to mid-October, divide them, dust them with a fungicide and let them heal and replant.

Amend the soil generously and use a high-phosphorus fertilizer at planting time. All require organic surface mulches and will not perform well in rock mulch. As long as they have sufficient storage in the rhizomes they should bloom again normally.

A lack of blooming is usually due to the rhizome not being large enough, not dividing them so they are growing too closely together or poor light conditions. When replanting them, they should get at least a half day of full sunlight, preferably in the morning to early afternoon.

Tulips are a bit trickier. Normally, they are fall planted here. Success mostly has to do with picking the right type of tulip. If you know they have been blooming before then that will not be a problem for you.

Some tulips, like the Darwin hybrids and the so-called “wild types,” have a low enough chilling requirement that you can leave them in the ground and they will rebloom each year. If they are ones that have a higher chilling requirement then you will have to dig them, put them in the fridge for two months and replant them each year or treat them as an annual.

Others may bloom some years and not others depending on the variety. When buying tulips for this climate make sure they have been prechilled to be on the safe side.

Daffodils are also normally planted in the fall here. They should all be OK as long as they are not planted in the hot parts of the yard or included in your “desert” (i.e., rock) landscape. The better ones are usually the ones with smaller blooms.

Bob Morris is a horticulture expert living in Las Vegas and professor emeritus for the University of Nevada. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com.