Irises forum→Cutting back Iris foliage - your experience?

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Name: Lori Morrow
Enid, OK (Zone 6b)
I want them all!
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Daylilies Irises Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Oklahoma
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enidcandles
Nov 13, 2015 6:49 PM CST
I cut mine back this year. Man do my iris beds look neat and tidy. Last year a had a slight rot problem and a huge ink spot problem. I hope that have all of that extra foliage off will keep the ink spot at bay!

As for the tree leaves...I have left them in the past and have discovered wonderful new growth under them in the spring. However, last year it took me a bit too long to get them all off and I was breaking off bloom stalks as I was trying to get the thick, wet layer of leaves off of the plants. It was a mess that I hope to avoid by having shorter foliage this year. Shorter foliage should give me less leaves (in theory anyway).

Before I "thought" I knew anything about irises, I would mow them off with the lawn mower when they were done blooming. I didn't know better and didn't like the mess they left behind so...off with their heads!!! I did not ever notice a decrease in bloom and they didn't die so..... Whistling
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Nov 13, 2015 7:35 PM CST
I would use the mower, too, but it makes too many "small pieces", that are too hard to rake up. I "weed whack", instead. I really don't want tree leaves, trash, or even the dead, collapsed iris leaves left in my beds, over the winter. IMHO, the iris are hardy enough to withstand any cold the Illinois winter will ever throw at them.....but they WON'T stand being under a layer of "leaf mulch". If the "mulch "could go on AFTER the ground freezes, and come OFF in early spring, it might be "OK", but, going on before freeze up is inviting rot, vermin, insects, fungus, and mold......and I don't want any of those ! Over the years I have tried various methods of "winter culture"......from" doing nothing", to 'doing everything', and for me, weed whacking the fans, raking out the big pieces, using a leaf blower to get the "small pieces, and then burning over the beds, gives the best results. We all grow the "same' iris, but our climates, soils, and time constraints are all different, so we have to find out what works in our garden!
Name: Lori Morrow
Enid, OK (Zone 6b)
I want them all!
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Daylilies Irises Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Oklahoma
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enidcandles
Nov 14, 2015 6:41 AM CST
My theory for the year is "cleaner garden, less disease". I will let you know this spring how that all turns out.

I most certainly do like the low profile, cleaner look of everything cleaned up though! It sure made putting down Preen and Amaze easy with the ground exposed!
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: United Kingdom Region: Northeast US Irises
Region: United States of America
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irisarian
Nov 14, 2015 1:26 PM CST
The old browning leaves of bearded should be cut off. the new green leaves are promoting growth & should stay.
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Nov 14, 2015 2:02 PM CST
These illustrate why I 'cut back, and burn"
If I dont' cut....the beds look like this:
Thumb of 2015-11-14/crowrita1/f815d0
when they are cut back, they look like this:
Thumb of 2015-11-14/crowrita1/1c6f0e
and when they are burnt off:
Thumb of 2015-11-14/crowrita1/8c6154

and Lucy is correct....if the leaves are green.....there is growth......maybe SLOW growth, but growth, going on., and I try to wait as late as I can to do my cutting / burning (and I really aren't too interested in being out there when it gets REALLY cold Sticking tongue out ) In some areas (climates is a better word, I guess :confused:) at least *some* cultivars remain green, all winter. Here, there are only a few of the medians that are 'ever green', everything else is either brown, and dried out....or a slimy mush ....by the time spring comes.
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: United Kingdom Region: Northeast US Irises
Region: United States of America
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irisarian
Nov 14, 2015 9:33 PM CST
We just cut back Siberian foliage on the advice of Marty & Jan at Joe Pye Weed garden.
Name: Gabriel/Gabe Rivera
Charlotte, NC (Zone 7b)
German imported, Michigan raised
Region: North Carolina Hybridizer Garden Photography Region: United States of America Hostas Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Dog Lover Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Plant and/or Seed Trader Irises Container Gardener
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Cuzz4short
Dec 15, 2015 4:48 PM CST
Arlyn, are those more iris lots on the other side of the gravel drive? Blinking
Gimme it and I'll grow it!
(Zone 9b)
Region: California
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UndertheSun
Dec 15, 2015 5:08 PM CST
Arlyn, those are some nice clumps! Thumbs up
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Dec 15, 2015 5:43 PM CST
Cuzz4short said:Arlyn, are those more iris lots on the other side of the gravel drive? Blinking


In the last picture , yes.....the "gravel drive" actually seperates the two , different properties we own.
Name: Leslie
Durham, NC (Zone 8a)
Region: North Carolina Irises Cat Lover Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers hot summers Peonies
Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Lestv
Dec 15, 2015 7:34 PM CST
Gabe - Arlyn has VERY large iris beds. When I grow up and have a big big yard, I want beds like those! Big Grin Hilarious!
"The chimera is a one time happenstance event where the plant has a senior moment and forgets what it is doing." - Paul Black
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Dec 15, 2015 7:52 PM CST
It's not so much how LARGE they are......it's how many of them there are that keep's me busy Sticking tongue out
Name: Jan Wax
Mendocino County, N. CA (Zone 9a)
I'm a semi-retired studio potter.
Hummingbirder Region: California Dog Lover Irises Organic Gardener Daylilies
Dahlias Garden Art Cat Lover Vegetable Grower Birds Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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janwax
Dec 16, 2015 11:29 AM CST
I'm doing a lot of cutting back now - fighting the leaf spot. Thinking of hiring someone to help me.
Just the one bed is affected, but it's got 100 or so irises in it! I did some rudimentary cleanup after bloom
season, but left some still-green long leaves, some on the ground. That was a mistake. We've had quite a bit of rain.

Yesterday I got an acupuncture treatment to relieve some of the pain in my shoulders. Seems to have helped some.
My new gardening shears are great!
Life is a Gift !
Name: Sherry Austin
Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9a)
Region: California Irises Keeper of Poultry Roses Dragonflies Birds
Bulbs Foliage Fan Photo Contest Winner: 2015
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Henhouse
Dec 17, 2015 1:33 AM CST
What kind of shears did you get?
I use ARS for pruning, but they're not good for cutting the Iris foliage. I use the smaller pair as the shorter arc in the handles translates to less wear and tear on my hand..
I'm always interested in what other tools people are using for different tasks.
The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us.
(Zone 9b)
Region: California
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UndertheSun
Dec 17, 2015 2:55 AM CST
Sherry, I think you have a great idea for a new thread. I would like to see everyone's trusty garden tools too. I know we posted some last season in a thread...but I don't know which one.
Name: John
Kansas City,MO (Zone 6a)
Region: Missouri Composter Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plays in the sandbox
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yadah_tyger
Dec 17, 2015 3:44 AM CST
We are still experiencing a rather warm late Fall. We get these cold snaps that last about 2 days then right back to the 50s'. That's fine by me. Our fans are still holding up quite well so I'm still not going to cut back the fans. Besides, apparently cold does effect RA so my hands wouldn't be able to do the trimming anyway.

Blessings
When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' Theodore Roosevelt
Name: Kayleigh
(Zone 5a)
Cat Lover Seed Starter Canning and food preservation Plays in the sandbox Lilies Hummingbirder
Irises Daylilies Cut Flowers Butterflies Region: Indiana Vegetable Grower
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HoosierHarvester
Dec 17, 2015 7:55 AM CST
Somehow I missed the post about "what shears" does everyone use. For my Iris foliage, I have found that a good pair of standard scizzors work best for me. I've tried pruning shears as well, but they don't cut the Iris foliage clean.
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Dec 17, 2015 9:08 AM CST
HoosierHarvester said:Somehow I missed the post about "what shears" does everyone use. For my Iris foliage, I have found that a good pair of standard scizzors work best for me. I've tried pruning shears as well, but they don't cut the Iris foliage clean.


That's what I use as well for cutting foliage when I need to.
Voltaire: "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities,"
Name: Lucy
Hamilton, MA (Zone 6b)
irises
Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters Region: United Kingdom Region: Northeast US Irises
Region: United States of America
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irisarian
Dec 17, 2015 10:36 AM CST
We only cut back the Siberian foliage. We use a Japanese rice knife. It has teeth & has a curve. Hold foliage with the left hand & one or 2 swipes with the right hand. I wasn't up to it this year so John did the cutting. He can work faster than I do. the year before, it took me 2 days. I don't lean over very well because of balance.
Name: Jan Wax
Mendocino County, N. CA (Zone 9a)
I'm a semi-retired studio potter.
Hummingbirder Region: California Dog Lover Irises Organic Gardener Daylilies
Dahlias Garden Art Cat Lover Vegetable Grower Birds Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
janwax
Dec 17, 2015 11:22 AM CST
These are the shears I bought, Sherry. They have a lifetime guarantee.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/produ...

They work very well. My pruning shears were too heavy and not sharp enough for cutting leaves.
Life is a Gift !
[Last edited by janwax - Dec 17, 2015 11:26 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #1009929 (19)
Name: Sherry Austin
Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9a)
Region: California Irises Keeper of Poultry Roses Dragonflies Birds
Bulbs Foliage Fan Photo Contest Winner: 2015
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Henhouse
Dec 17, 2015 11:52 AM CST
I'd love to know how they hold up and retain their sharpness. The price is certainly attractive. I got a couple of pairs of scissors at the dollar store for trimming foliage, but I use my clippers for stalks or cutting a leaf down near the base. I'm not doing much cutting right now. Just pulling off the foliage as it fades.
The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us.

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