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Iris Care after Blooming

Are you Iris all done flowering? They can be a bit unsightly but today I show you Iris care after bloom to help them look better and keep them from wasting energy setting seed.

Iris care after bloom is very easy and can be done over several days or longer if you have a lot of them, like I do.

Blue Iris in the Secret Garden

For a video of my Secret Garden Iris in full bloom you can see that here.

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What to do with Iris after blooming

So your Iris are done and you are left with a green stick and some dried petals. Kinds of like this….

Bearded Iris that are done blooming

A good reason to come along and dead head or chop back the stems is to prevent the plant from putting out energy to create seeds. Instead we want the plant to absorb sunshine via the leaves to feed the rhizome for wonderful blooms next Spring.

So we need to remove the dead flower and cut back the stem for aesthetics. The video I have linked at the end of this article is wonderful for seeing exactly how I get that done.

But I will walk you through it here too.

How to dead head Iris

First, grab your pruning shears or secateurs. Follow the stem you wish to prune off to the base.

Pruning an Iris after bloom, stem base

Cut the stem off at an angle, this is supposed to prevent water from sitting on the cut edge creating rot. (truth is I usually don’t bother with a specific type cut and I have had no issues in 30+ years of growing bearded Iris)

This photo shows a nice angle cut.

Iris stem cut at an angle during dead heading

Another way to trim back the stems is in increments. This is called sheet composting, when the pieces fall to the ground they degrade (compost) and feed the soil. (only with disease and pest free plants)

This is done in small pieces, they compost in place faster. Start an inch below the spent bloom.

Cutting dead bloom off of Bearded Iris

Then go down another inch or two on the stem and make another cut.

cutting down stem of bearded iris bloom

Do this all the way to the base of the stem and finish with an angle cut if you desire.

Iris stem being dead headed in increments

This is also a good time to cut off any leaves that look yellowed, damaged or drying out. There will be plenty of leaves left to absorb sunshine to feed the rhizome. Removing the ugly leaves will not effect that.

Iris care after bloom, removing yellowed, damaged or dried leaves.

Again, leaves that look diseased should be thrown away and not composted or left in place. They could carry a fungus that could spread.

Do you have to cut back Iris?

Tidying up the Iris in your garden helps them to blend in with what is blooming and not detracting with dried up blooms and yellowing leaves. But you don’t have to do this.

But it does have enough benefits as stated before of helping the plant be healthier and prepare well for next years flowers.

Also this is a good time to clean up any dead leaves and debris at the base of the Iris.

See the dead leaves and other debris, we don’t want that sitting on top of the Iris Rhizomes. You can also see the chunks of stem I cut.

debris needing clean up at base of Iris

Rake all the debris off the tip of the rhizomes, left beside them is fine or you can take it all to the compost heap.

In the center of the leaves is the rhizomes, you can see how it is cleaned up. The dried leaves are removed and no debris is on top of the rhizomes.

base of Iris cleaned up after flowering

Now the Iris is all ready to spend the rest of summer luxuriating in the sun building up energy for next season.

debris at base of Iris

This is what this Iris looked like in early June. Isn’t it gorgeous!

Bearded iris in bloom

In a few weeks this Iris will get divided to keep it healthy and growing well. Overcrowded Iris slow down in flowering and need more space.

Want to know how to divide Iris? Here is an article for you.

I wish you Happy Gardening, until next time!

Photo of Iris after blooming with text overlay, Iris Care after Bloom, with video, Flower patch Farmhouse

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Brenda Beary

Sunday 5th of July 2020

Is there any harm to cutting back fan shaped?

Thx, Brenda

Pamela

Tuesday 7th of July 2020

It is best to leave as much leaf surface as possible as the leaves help to store energy in the rhizome for beautiful blooms next Spring. I don't cut back any healthy leaves so they can do their job.

Julia Stadick

Sunday 5th of July 2020

Thank you so very much for the info about trimming iris after blooming! I have previously waited until September and cut the whole plant back, but will be trying your method soon. Have a blessed day!

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