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Avatar for blisstone
Jan 9, 2022 12:01 PM CST
Kentucky
Hi, I planted irises this year from a vintage clump a neighbor was getting rid off (massive renovation reasons), and the plant took really well to the new location, with vigorous foliage, but now it's January, and we've had snow and frost, and the leaves are still as green as they ever were. I've been waiting for some yellowing, but, NADA! Should I cut them back anyway, or wait until later?
Last edited by blisstone Jan 9, 2022 4:46 PM Icon for preview
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Jan 9, 2022 1:42 PM CST
Name: Laurie
southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Irises Butterflies Bee Lover Bulbs Cat Lover Region: Nebraska
Welcome! Blisstone!
Others on this forum know more about irises than I do, but I'd say it doesn't matter when you cut back leaves. I'd suggest you cut them back when most convenient for you. You could cut back alot of the outer older leaves now, and then in spring it will be a little easier to tidy up the plants. Might be muddier in spring as well. It is good to do a thorough clean up of older leaves to reduce the number of iris borer eggs that overwinter on the leaves and nearby debris.
Avatar for blisstone
Jan 9, 2022 4:47 PM CST
Kentucky
Thanks for that prompt reply. I will follow your guidance. Outer leaves next week end, and inner later. That makes sense.
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Jan 9, 2022 5:30 PM CST
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Amaryllis Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Maryland Organic Gardener Irises Herbs
Hellebores Growing under artificial light Container Gardener Cat Lover Bulbs Bookworm
No, irises don't go totally dormant in winter, and they need those green leaves photosynthsizing to gel them through the winter. So only remove dead leaves, and make sure all dead leaves are pulled off and bagged before temperatures warm enough for for borers to start hatching. The only time you need to trim leaves is when they are dug up for shipping or transplantation, and that is to reduce transpiration while they re-establish their root systems.

Thnk of it this way: those green leaves are food-producing factories, working on establishing bloom buds, hidden deep within the rhizomes.
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
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Jan 9, 2022 8:24 PM CST
Name: Laurie
southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Irises Butterflies Bee Lover Bulbs Cat Lover Region: Nebraska
Since you are in Kentucky, I don't know if it gets cold enough that most of your foliage dies back over winter. I assumed it did and so that is why I suggested cutting the old foliage. But as Daisy said, the green foliage does manufacture food (which is energy for the plant), so there is an advantage to waiting until it is dead to trim off. Don't trim off good green leaves in spring. Daisy is in zone 7 so that is probably closer to your zone so her advice is more applicable. I find that most of my foliage has died back over winter (being in zone 5) and it can be rather muddy in spring, so I do a late fall cleanup of old leaves to help reduce what I have to do in spring. Smiling Hope that helps! Smiling
Thanks, Daisy!
Last edited by lauriemorningglory Jan 9, 2022 8:25 PM Icon for preview
Avatar for KyDeltaD
Jan 9, 2022 8:56 PM CST
Name: Derylin
Louisville ,Kentucky (Zone 6b)
Amaryllis Vegetable Grower Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Peonies Irises Houseplants
Hibiscus Herbs Dog Lover Daylilies Cat Lover Region: Kentucky
Most of my fans are mostly green right now in Louisville..I just leave mine until early March, and cut back any dead or diseased fans before my iris really start their Spring growth.
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Jan 9, 2022 9:38 PM CST
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Amaryllis Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Maryland Organic Gardener Irises Herbs
Hellebores Growing under artificial light Container Gardener Cat Lover Bulbs Bookworm
I usually try to pull out dead iris leaves in both fall and then additional dead leaves in early spring. The only time I ever trim green leaves is if I start getting (fungal?) spotting with heavy summer rains. That seems to help keep the problem from spreading.
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
Avatar for blisstone
Jan 10, 2022 11:39 AM CST
Kentucky
Thank you all. You've clarified it all. Then I am thrilled to have such vigorous plants!!!
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Jan 10, 2022 6:17 PM CST
Name: Daisy
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Amaryllis Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Maryland Organic Gardener Irises Herbs
Hellebores Growing under artificial light Container Gardener Cat Lover Bulbs Bookworm
Welcome to the forum! Welcome!
-"If I can’t drain a swamp, I’ll go pull some weeds." - Charles Williams
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Jan 10, 2022 9:13 PM CST
Name: Elsa
Las Cruces, New Mexico (Zone 8a)
Dog Lover Irises Region: New Mexico Region: Southwest Gardening Region: United States of America
Welcome! Blisstone!!!
I think the people who grow Irises are about as special as the flower itself!
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Jan 11, 2022 3:21 AM CST
Name: Richard
Joshua Tree (Zone 9a)
Birds Herbs Irises Ponds Plant and/or Seed Trader
Welcome! Blisstone Welcome!
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Jan 11, 2022 11:28 AM CST
Name: Wheezy
Cincinnati (Zone 6a)
Bee Lover Dog Lover Frogs and Toads Irises Region: Ohio
Whichever among mine have leaves in the winter, if they aren't wet and brown, I leave them on.

But, something about newly xplanted irises, when the roots aren't fully established, those tall leaves can catch the wind like a sail, and contribute to the plant heaving out of the earth where it's planted.

If it's not a windy spot, it's a non-issue.
The Allergic Gardener salutes all of you wheezing on your hands and knees in the garden for love of your flowers.
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Jan 11, 2022 6:46 PM CST
Name: daphne
san diego county, ca (Zone 10a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Welcome! to the iris forum, blisstone.
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