Irises forum: Cut or snap?

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Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Jun 17, 2013 1:00 PM CST
Just curious. Do you cut out your spent bloom stems or bend and snap them out?
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah

caitlinsgarden
Jun 17, 2013 1:58 PM CST
I've done both but I'm not sure which is best. I do know that this is the spot where rot most often begins, but it might be mostly the bloom stems that never quite developed.
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
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irisarian
Jun 17, 2013 2:13 PM CST
I have a neat small cutter which does the job.
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
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crowrita1
Jun 17, 2013 5:05 PM CST
I cut...at an angle, if possible...Arlyn
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
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Muddymitts
Jun 17, 2013 7:52 PM CST
If the bloom stalks are firm, I snap. If the bloom stalks are starting to get soft, or if there's any danger of damaging the rhizome, I cut.

I have never worried about the angle of the cut Arlyn -- please tell me why that would matter?
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Jun 17, 2013 8:03 PM CST
Maybe it dosen't, but I feel if it's angled, it will shed water and debris better. Also, they seem to "harden", or dry ,whatever you want to call it, into a smaller"scab". Try a few and you'll see what I mean. i really can;t put it into words the way I want......And , maybe it's all in my head ! Sticking tongue out I get crazy ideas like that sometimes !!...Arlyn
Name: Mary Ann
Kentucky
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Hostas Hummingbirder Daylilies Birds
Irises Keeps Horses Region: Kentucky Farmer Container Gardener Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Muddymitts
Jun 18, 2013 7:27 AM CST
You're funny. And I doubt that you have many *crazy* ideas. Thanks for sharing your thinking on this.
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Roy
Mills, Wyoming (Zone 4b)
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Irisdaddy
Jun 18, 2013 11:02 AM CST
i would cut them just to make sure i have a clean break. snapping seems to be risky!
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Jun 18, 2013 12:05 PM CST
Now I'm confused. I read on another thread that one should lift or cut out the rhizome that bloomed as it will only bloom once. I've tried that and found it rather difficult to do without damaging the neighboring rhizomes. And often times the mother rhizome has lots of smaller babies sprouting out, I presume I would keep those guys. So far, I've just put black X's on the rhizome which bloomed while trying to sort this out. Any help from the iris folk would be greatly appreciated.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Jun 18, 2013 12:13 PM CST

Moderator

I hope you aren't doing that as a result of the article I wrote awhile back, Deb? A rhizome will only bloom once, but you have to wait until it has produced good sized "daughter" rhizomes before removing it. Or, if the clump is large, not be concerned about losing the new increases.
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Jun 18, 2013 12:25 PM CST
Thanks for the clarification Kent. I have a giant tangle of iris that had very little blooms this year, and it sounds like I need to get rid of most of the big guys and just keep the babies? I'd been dividing this clump about every 2-3 years, usually about the time the rhizomes start climbing up the foundation wall. I probably replanted the wrong rhizomes, favoring the larger ones for the babies, which now adds to my poor blooming percentage. I also have a couple newer clumps and would like to get into a better management habit with them before they get as out of control as my big mess.

I find that the bigger rhizomes end up squishing against each other, with the babies going any which way they can. How do you remove the mother without compromising the daughters? I tried slicing the daughters away from the mother but then couldn't easily lift the mother due to the root structure. Do you also horizontally slice the mother's root system or something?

I absolutely love iris and would like to be a better nurturer of them.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Jun 18, 2013 2:07 PM CST
If I come upon some that are all tangled up together, I just dig up the whole mess, and break them apart and replant the best rhizomes. You can always tell the "mother" rhizome, as there will be a place where the old bloom stalk used to be, and you can eleminate them when you are replanting. That's also a good time to add some compost to the soil and mix it in before replanting. I have about a gazillion that I have to dig up and replant this year. I have two beds that have quack grass that is winning the battle, and I need to just pull everything out and start over. Not looking forward to that.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Jun 18, 2013 2:08 PM CST

Moderator

If it's a big clump, I wouldn't worry about compromising the increases. The remaining mature rhizomes should produce plenty of replacements. With the smaller clumps, you should probably wait until the increases have gotten close to a mature size. By then, root systems of the spent rhizomes are pretty much gone (once the fan of leaves on top of a rhizome dies, the root system starts to fade away as well) and they are relatively easy to pop out of the ground after they are severed from the others.

It might be heresy to say it, but other than planting newly acquired rhizomes, I really don't mess with my irises much during the summer. I like to do most of my thinning either late in the fall after a couple of killing frosts or early in the spring right as they start growing. That's when it's easiest to see what is going on, it's more pleasant weather-wise, and there isn't too much concern about rot. I'm sure it's different in other places, but rot is really only a potential issue here from late spring to mid-summer. So, I tend to leave them alone during that time.

As far how to nurture them, I follow the practice of benign neglect with the occasional kick in the rear (thinning or dividing). Keep the beds relatively weed free, replenish the soil now and then, and prevent them from getting too crowded. They really don't require much more care than that unless you live where borers occur or the conditions are really favorable for leaf spot. I suspect more irises are loved to death than die of neglect.
Name: Roy
Mills, Wyoming (Zone 4b)
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Irisdaddy
Jun 18, 2013 4:21 PM CST
tveguy3 said: I have about a gazillion that I have to dig up and replant this year. I have two beds that have quack grass that is winning the battle, and I need to just pull everything out and start over. Not looking forward to that.


Wish i lived closer, i would come help you! Big Grin
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Jun 18, 2013 5:33 PM CST
Irisdaddy said:

Wish i lived closer, i would come help you! Big Grin


Well, I'd probably send you home with a truck load of irises, and/or compost. I have a lot of both! nodding
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
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tveguy3
Jun 18, 2013 5:37 PM CST
Kent, I have tried a few crosses this year, and have some seed pods coming along nicely. I have a couple where the seed pod is on some of the lower branches. Should I cut off the top branches, or just leave them alone?
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Plant Identifier Region: Nebraska Forum moderator
Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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KentPfeiffer
Jun 18, 2013 6:08 PM CST

Moderator

It wouldn't hurt, be careful though. The pods snap off really easily in the first couple of weeks after they form.
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
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tveguy3
Jun 19, 2013 3:24 AM CST
Thanks, This pod is really big already.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
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irisarian
Jun 19, 2013 6:47 PM CST
With our pasture grass I bought some 'Grass-B-gon' and am trying to get the nerve to use it. I can cover my face because of asthma.
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
Charter ATP Member Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Echinacea Vegetable Grower Hybridizer
Tomato Heads Garden Photography Birds Cut Flowers Foliage Fan Plays in the sandbox
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Paul2032
Jun 19, 2013 7:18 PM CST
Lucy....I used some 'Grass Be Gone' on some Bermuda grass this spring. There were two clumps of iris in the grass and I made a point of spraying them as I sprayed the grass. The grass is dead. The iris bloomed beautifully and no harm to the foliage. Get a disposable mask at a hardware/paint store.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah

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