Ever Blooming Irises - Knowledgebase Question

Modesto, CA
Question by bestestnana
December 8, 1999
After the first bloom and the flowers died out I cut the leaves back to about 3 to 4 inches high.
I have done nothing else to my irises this year and they are still blooming and it is Dec. 9. When is the best time to cut down and how?

Answer from NGA
December 8, 1999


Sounds as though your iris are reluctant for the season to end! Ordinarily, when flowers are spent, the flower stalk should be cut down to slightly below foliage level. The leaves can be left until they wither and die naturally. In colder parts of the country this is usually by the first frost. In your mild-winter climate the iris may never really go dormant and might retain the older leaves right up until spring when new foliage is produced. You can allow the leaves to remain until then, cutting them off as new foilage begins to show. (Or cut them off sooner if they yellow and dry up on their own.) The leaves provide energy to the rhizomes so as long as they remain on the plant, they're doing what they're supposed to do, even though we think they're out of season. Iris are often used in fresh flower arrangements so you can cut back the flower stalks at any time without harming the plant.

Enjoy your lovely iris!

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