Irises forum: iris

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jml9
Sep 25, 2014 1:41 PM CST
Wintering irises...cut tops off or not?????
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Sep 25, 2014 1:50 PM CST
Hi and Welcome jm19, I ususally don't, I've heard that they use the energy from the leaves. But then some of my friends always do. Last year we had a really cold winer here, and the rabbits ate them down. Many of those didn't bloom for me. Although they ate them clear down to the rhizome. I think it's more important to pull off the dead leaves in the fall and again in the spring. Some people burn them off in the spring if they are where they can be burned.
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: Jan Wax
Mendocino County, N. CA (Zone 9a)
I'm a studio potter.
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janwax
Sep 25, 2014 2:47 PM CST
Welcome! JM19
Iris is the goddess of the rainbow.
South central PA (Zone 6a)
Irises Region: Pennsylvania
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DaveinPA
Sep 25, 2014 3:00 PM CST
Welcome jml9.
Have to agree with Tom. Apparently the cutting "mandate" came from shipping irises in the mid to late summer and made shipping easier. Also can reduce the leaf "clutter" around and in clumps, thereby reducing the places harmful critters can hide and grow. I have done both and save lots of work by only pulling out the dried leaves and not trimming them. I am even risky enough to compost many of the pulled leaves, although that is somewhat controversial.
Name: Greg Hodgkinson
Hanover PA (Zone 6b)
Charter ATP Member Irises I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pennsylvania Region: Japan Garden Photography
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Misawa77
Sep 25, 2014 3:29 PM CST
You do not need to cut off. I do because mine are very crowded and it helps to limit the leaf spot, easier to dig and move, and limits areas for borer moth to lay eggs. I also think it looks better. I have more time in the Fall to do this than in the Spring.
Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
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grannysgarden
Sep 25, 2014 4:11 PM CST
I do not cut mine off. In this area it is considered cosmetic and when I visit a garden and see that the iris fans have been trimmed I always ask why. Interesting how many reasons, mostly wrong, people have for doing this.
I love my garden.... and Jesus, and coffee, and naps.......
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
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lovemyhouse
Sep 25, 2014 4:21 PM CST
Welcome, jml9. Smiling
No cutting, here, either.
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
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
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Muddymitts
Sep 25, 2014 4:45 PM CST
Hi jm19 -- Welcome!

OK -- I'll be the odd man out. I think trimming the leaves is a good idea. First of all, leaves are where the moths lay their eggs that become borers. No one wants borers. Second, as Irises approach winter, their leaves will begin to dry or brown off -- and begin to look really ugly. I trim any browned/damaged leafs -- but that usually leads to trimming most of them. I do remove all totally dried leaves, or any that have become loose and are laying on the ground.

I think fall trimming and clean-up is a good idea.
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Leslie
Durham, NC (Zone 8a)
Region: North Carolina Irises Cat Lover Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers hot summers Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Lestv
Sep 25, 2014 4:55 PM CST
Welcome! jm19!!!
I do trim mine very late fall (late October or so). We get wet winters and the leaves tend to get soggy and fall over, so I trim them to avoid getting crown rot.
My road calls me, lures me west, east, south & north; most roads lead men homewards, my road leads me forth. - John Masefield
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
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tveguy3
Sep 25, 2014 5:29 PM CST
There you go jm19, Clear as mud! Hilarious!
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: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Sep 25, 2014 6:31 PM CST
I trim in late fall after frost. I makes for easier clean-up in busy spring. Trim 1/2 of yours and leave the others and see if you can see a difference in the spring.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
Name: Linnea
Southern Maine, border 5b/6a (Zone 5b)
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Linneaj
Sep 25, 2014 7:17 PM CST
Hi jml9,

I trim them if they are ugly, but not if they look happy.
Don't make fear based decisions.
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
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irisarian
Sep 25, 2014 10:36 PM CST
Trim leaves on Siberian (suggested by Joe Pye Weeds garden), Do not do bearded unless diseased.
Name: Sherry Austin
Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9a)
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Henhouse
Sep 26, 2014 12:57 AM CST
Welcome!

I pull off the outside leaves as they start fading. I used to cut the leaves thinking that it would help control leaf spot. It didn't, and I always felt weird about cutting them. It went against my gut feeling that the plant needed the leaves. Now the general consensus seems to agree with that.
If I'm taking pictures, I do cut off the dead tips, which is usually with the re-bloomers. The leaves are still fresh looking for spring bloom.
When counting, try not to mix chickens with blessings.
Name: Linnea
Southern Maine, border 5b/6a (Zone 5b)
Irises Winter Sowing Plant and/or Seed Trader Permaculture Composter Organic Gardener
Garden Art Daylilies
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Linneaj
Sep 26, 2014 6:54 AM CST
A lot of times, I set the mower on high and run over the whole garden...it goes in the mulch bag and I dump it off to the side somewhere. Randoms seeds grow a new perennial garden. Rolling on the floor laughing
Don't make fear based decisions.
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
Sep 26, 2014 7:10 AM CST
So I guess the answer to your question is -- your Irises will probably be fine whichever way you decide to manage them. So do what pleases you and check the results next spring during bloom season.
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
Sep 26, 2014 7:29 AM CST
I try to cut everything to a 6"-8" height in the late fall/early winter. Our winters are severe enough that almost all of the leaves, if left uncut, are dead, and laying in a heap on top of the plant (just like a 'mulch") by the time spring comes. I used to just use garden shears, but when my " collection" got too big, I stared using the "string trimmer". After "whacking" them, I rake off all the cut leaves, and use shears to cut the ones that managed to escape the weed-whacker, taking all the cut leaves to the dump. After a few days of drying, I scatter dry leaves, or straw over the beds, and burn them off. This year I plan to experiment with a propane "leaf burner', instead of scattering straw.
I really believe that iris grow, and bloom DESPITE what we do, NOT BECAUSE of what we do ! As Paul said , try some one way, and some the other, and see what works the best for you................Arlyn
Name: Marilyn
Central California (Zone 9b)
Region: California Bee Lover Butterflies Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers Composter
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Moiris
Sep 26, 2014 11:26 AM CST
I really think it depends on where you live. Those in the east and the north with very cold weather and heavy snows or in areas with heavy rain seem to cut them back to prevent disease and pest problems. Out here in California (and I noticed Bonnie in Arkansas) we don't have to cut them back drastically.

I just keep pulling dead and dying leaves off, but I don't worry about the tips. I leave any green leaves on the plant.

The thing is that the leaves are where photosynthesis happens. The longer the leaves stay on the plant the more the plant can produce the sugars that it converts to the starch that is stored in the rhizomes. That's how your rhizome growth and increase occur. That's why the California rhizomes tend to get so big...they grow practically year-round.

There is no advantage to leaving the leaves on if you don't have any warm sunny weather for photosynthesis to occur or if everything is going to freeze and die anyway...and there is a higher risk of rot and pests if dead leaves become wet and soggy and lay on top of the rhizomes. So in those conditions it's probably better to use one of the methods to cut back the leaves.

As someone else said ....clear as mud, right?

I glad you stopped by the forum! Welcome! ...and come back and visit us again to tell us what you decided and how it worked out! Smiling

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
Sep 26, 2014 7:14 PM CST
I nominate Marilyn to be the official hostess of our group!! That was so wonderfully put, Marilyn. Thumbs up
Thoughts become things -- choose the good ones. ([url=www.tut.com]www.tut.com[/url])
Name: Ken
Traverse City, Michigan (Zone 5a)
Vegetable Grower Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: Michigan Irises Daylilies
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bramedog
Sep 26, 2014 8:45 PM CST
I alway trim and dispose at the end of October/early November. After a couple hard frosts, the leaves are pretty much dead. Maybe that's why I have never seen an iris borer. (knock on wood)

Looks like Red Handed is going to survive. It had funky blooms this spring, but no increases. Thought it might have had a borer in it since it had a couple v notch cuts in the leaves in the early spring. Dug it up and found nothing. Replanted in an isolated, sunny location and they all seemed to shrivel up. That was until a couple days ago, when I noticed a few new fans coming up. May not bloom next year, but it's growing. Hurray!
[Last edited by bramedog - Sep 26, 2014 8:51 PM (+)]
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