Are you Iris all done flowering? They can be a bit unsightly but today you will learn how to take care of Iris after they bloom. This will 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. You will need some pruners, a bucket or basket to collect the Iris debris and a few moments of time. Using the pruners cut the entire stem down or cut it into smaller pieces. Collect them in the basket or tub. But there is another alternative that works too.
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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….
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.
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.
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.
Note: only leave iris debris if you do not struggle with disease or pests like the Iris borer. (only with disease and pest free plants)
This is done in small pieces, they compost in place faster when they are cut smaller. Start an inch below the spent bloom.
Then go down another inch or two on the stem and make another cut.
Do this all the way to the base of the stem and finish with an angle cut if you desire.
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.
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.
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.
Now the Iris is all ready to spend the rest of summer luxuriating in the sun building up energy for next season.
This is what this Iris looked like in early June. Isn’t it gorgeous!
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.
I show you step by step in this video
I wish you Happy Gardening, until next time!