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What are Examples of Rhizomes?

Updated on February 23, 2012

Rock Felt Ferns with Rhizomes


Caulophyllum thalictroides


Sarracencia Rhizome

Sarracenia rhizome
Sarracenia rhizome | Source
More "rhizomes" in bloom.  I love these bearded Iris, and took this photo also last year.
More "rhizomes" in bloom. I love these bearded Iris, and took this photo also last year. | Source

Some Information about Rhizomes

In botany, rhizomes are plant stems that run under the ground, horizontally. They don't not only not need much depth, the rhizomes I am familiar with like to sit almost on top of the soil! I learned this after planting some tulips rather deeply, then being told by my Great Aunt Betty, that they like to sit on top of the soil. I didn't know whether to believe her or not, but I did in the end because she grew beautiful Iris flowers, whole gardens full!

The plant stems that run horizontally underground, can produce the shoots and root systems of whole new rhizomes. This enables the rhizome to propagate in a vegetative way, or asexually. It can survive tough seasons this way, or perennate, underground.

You probably are familiar with many of the flowers that come from rhizomes, once you hear the names, even if you weren't aware they were rhizomes. I love many of these flowers, and they include cannas, bearded iris, water lilies, and calla lilies. Also, hops, ginger, and asparagus, lily of the valley and sympodial orchids! Once I learned this, I realized just how much I love rhizomes!

There are some plants, including ferns, water lilies and some forest herbs, where the rhizome is the only stem of the plant. In these cases, only the leaves and flowers are easily visible.

Rhizomes, as you can see, don't look like much. In fact, once after getting some as a gift, my husband almost mistakenly threw them away. They can look like shriveled up dirt clods almost, at times. Yet, they can be put into the ground, barely covered and watered, and before long you have some of the most gorgeous blooming flowers you ever saw. That is no exaggeration! They are absolutely stunning, take for instance, the bearded iris. So make sure that if you get some rhizomes from a neighbor, family or friend, that you protect them until you can get them into the garden. Even if they took a trip to the local "dump", they may bloom there however, so all hope is not lost! My point is that they are tough cookies, and really a priceless treasure.

The one thing about the rhizomes I have the most experience with, is that if they start to get overcrowded, you will need to separate them out. This is when many gardeners share their iris, or plant them in new places. They like to find new homes! I have traveled with them across the USA a couple of times, no joke. They even travel well.

I encourage you to try some different rhizomes if you never have. Don't be put off in how they look if you get them shipped to you from a nursery or plant or seed catalog. They are supposed to look, well, dead. Its okay if they look bad, they just need to get in the ground. Your garden will reward with some stunning beauties that bring a lot of joy, and fragrance too, so often. My plan is to try planting some new rhizomes this year.

Image of a growing rhizome


Rhizome Poll

Have you ever grown any rhizomes in your garden, that you know of?

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    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Claire, I am so glad to hear this information helped you. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read this article about rhizomes.

    • profile image

      claire 5 years ago

      thank you for the information, it helps me a lot...

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Linda, yes, and thanks for sharing more examples of rhizomes. What would we do without rhizomes?

    • profile image

      Linda 5 years ago

      Let's see; oh yes---rhubarb, horseradish...rhizomes all...

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Eddy, thank you so much for your comment, and I am glad you learned about rhizomes. I hope you have a wonderful weekend also. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Very interesting indeed;i had never heard of rhizomes before so a very enjoyed lesson in nature.

      Thank you so very mush and have a great weekend.