Irises forum: Is it okay to cut back iris leaves now? Or is it too early?

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Name: Ian McBeth
Lincoln NE (Zone 5b)
Horticulture, Photography, & Art
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis Irises
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SonoveShakespeare
Jul 12, 2018 8:21 AM CST
It's been a couple of months since my irises have bloomed and I usually cut back the leaves in the fall. I am wanting to do it to some in the next week or two. I also have some that are mixed with daylilies and I want those irises cut back too. If you guys have any suggestions or answers, I would love to hear them.
Thanks,
-Ian
Not only people give others signs, but plants do too.
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Orchid hobbyist/Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Dahlias Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
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BigBill
Jul 12, 2018 8:27 AM CST
I cut both of mine back when the leaves start to yellow. When they are green I feel that they are in prime photosynthesis mode adding strength to the bulbs/tubers down below.
To my way of thinking the onset of yellow color means that they are shutting down themselves and are done for the season.
“The only stupid question is the one that is never asked!”
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
pirl
Jul 12, 2018 8:29 AM CST
I agree.
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Orchid hobbyist/Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Dahlias Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
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BigBill
Jul 12, 2018 8:32 AM CST
There's my Southold buddy!! Hurray!
“The only stupid question is the one that is never asked!”
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Dahlias Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
pirl
Jul 12, 2018 9:59 AM CST
Hi Big Bill! It's on my job list for today but "today" can be anytime in the next month or so.
Name: Ian McBeth
Lincoln NE (Zone 5b)
Horticulture, Photography, & Art
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis Irises
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SonoveShakespeare
Jul 12, 2018 11:20 AM CST
Thanks BigBill and pirl I was just outside like 30 minutes ago I noticed that a couple of my iris plant foliage were about to run yellow. Otherwise most of them are healthy looking and still green. I took a good look at my irises and noticed that there were little babies popping up from the rhizomes and I will leave the irises alone until fall.
Not only people give others signs, but plants do too.
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Orchid hobbyist/Judge
Region: United States of America Critters Allowed Dahlias Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
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BigBill
Jul 12, 2018 11:33 AM CST
Your welcome
“The only stupid question is the one that is never asked!”
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
Jul 12, 2018 1:34 PM CST
I cut mine back whenever I get to it and they do just fine no matter when that is. I say just cut them whenever it is convenient for you.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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sallyg
Jul 12, 2018 8:11 PM CST
I think dividing in August is recommended as a period of somewhat summer dormancy.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Timothy
eastern oregon (Zone 7b)
Irises Bulbs Region: United States of America Region: Pacific Northwest Plant and/or Seed Trader Dahlias
Garden Photography Salvias Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Hybridizer Region: Oregon
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TBMan
Jul 13, 2018 1:50 AM CST
trimming spent/diseased iris foliage at any time is beneficial from the standpoint of clean garden culture which pre-empts disease development and insect infestation.
HOWEVER ..........
Cutting the green healthy growth, just because traditional garden wisdom says so, is in my IMHO, an unproductive task. Please remember, that bearded iris, no matter where you live, never truly go in a bona fide "dormancy" in the summer.
They are in a modified growth phase, in which metabolites synthesized in the leaves are being directed down to the rhizome for storage until needed the following spring for growth and bloom. Also, anchor roots are being put down at this time. These anchor roots are gathering, primarily phosphorus and potassium, (as well as moisture). This P and K loading by the anchor roots is best combined with the sugars and other metabolites produced in the leaves for optimum starch, carbohydrate and sugar composition in the rhizome.
If you aren't transplanting or shipping iris, save yourself some work and hold off on the foliage cutting until fall, when the plants truly enter into winter dormancy
[Last edited by TBMan - Jul 30, 2018 5:44 PM (+)]
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Name: Ian McBeth
Lincoln NE (Zone 5b)
Horticulture, Photography, & Art
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis Irises
Image
SonoveShakespeare
Jul 13, 2018 8:41 PM CST
TBMan said:trimming spent/diseased iris foliage at any time is beneficial from the standpoint of clean garden culture which pre-empts disease development and insect infestation.
HOWEVER ..........
Cutting the green healthy growth, just because traditional garden wisdom says so, is in my IMHO, an unproductive task. Please remember, that bearded iris, no matter where you live, never truly go in a bona fide "dormancy" in the summer.
They are in a modified growth phase, in which metabolites synthesized in the leaves are being directed down to the rhizome for storage until needed the following spring for growth and bloom. Also, anchor roots are being put down at this time. These anchor roots are gathering, primarily phosphorus and potassium, (as well as moisture). This P and K loading by the anchor roots is best combined with the sugars and other metabolites produced in the leaves for optimum starch and sugar composition in the rhizome.
If you aren't transplanting or shipping iris, save yourself some work and hold off on the foliage cutting until fall, when the plants truly enter into winter dormancy


Tim, I agree with you on that. I only cut the ones that were being infested by grasshoppers and sun damaged. Grasshoppers have been really bad these last few years. I am an all natural guy when it comes to my plants. (No pesticides and such) I even pull the weeds by hand. Thumbs up and by the time it's about mid July, that's when the heat tends to come in and play with Mother Nature's Magic and starts destroying wildlife. (for example wildfires) I have daylilies right now that have burnt foliage tips.
Not only people give others signs, but plants do too.
Name: Ian McBeth
Lincoln NE (Zone 5b)
Horticulture, Photography, & Art
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis Irises
Image
SonoveShakespeare
Jul 13, 2018 9:00 PM CST
sallyg said:I think dividing in August is recommended as a period of somewhat summer dormancy.

I divided some white irises last August that were in my pampas grass bed to make room for some stellas they did just fine then and are fine now. Those irises didn't make many blooms when they were in those big clumps (1 maybe 2). My guess is that the pampas grass roots were absorbing the water supply, making it harder for the irises to produce enough energy to make blooms.
Not only people give others signs, but plants do too.
Name: Mary
Crown Point, Indiana (Zone 5b)
josieskid
Jul 30, 2018 3:04 PM CST
Hi, I usually hang out on the daylily forum. Kinda scared to come here cuz I don't need another addiction! But I got a box of three Iris plants in the mail today, and it occurs to me that I don't know what to do with them, since it's raining outside. How do you hold them till they can be planted? Any help would be appreciated!
Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Jul 30, 2018 3:23 PM CST
Someplace cool, and shady...maybe on the porch...just lay them out , and they will wait a LONG time, for you to get ready Thumbs up
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
Jul 30, 2018 3:29 PM CST
True, you sure don't have to worry about them waiting afew days to plant.
Name: DaisyDo
close to Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
Irises Cat Lover
DaisyDo
Jul 30, 2018 3:34 PM CST
Mary, just three? I'd don a raincoat and my rubber gardening boots, and with my lady shovel, I'd be done in 5 minutes. They don't need deep holes. Plant the rhizomes parallel with the soil surface, with the top third all along the rhizome exposed. Just be sure all the hanging roots are well buried..

Sit down and make your garden labels in advance before going out, and take them with you when you go out to plant.

I am supposed to take delivery this afternoon on a box of 4 or 5. Since it's raining right now, and we have a lower chance of rain in the mornings, I'll open the box when it arrives, soak the rhizomes in a pot of water for an hour or two to rehydrate them, then put hem back in the box with wads of soaked paper towels overnight. I'll make my labels tonight, and in the morning I'll plant them - with raincoat and boots if necessary!
Name: Mary
Crown Point, Indiana (Zone 5b)
josieskid
Jul 30, 2018 4:11 PM CST
Thank you all so much! Rita, you are so sweet.

It's been years since I bought Iris in the mail, so I wasn't sure. Yes, just three...all are Cry Me A River. Never seen one with those spoons before and I fell in love!

I ordered from IRIS4U GARDEN, and they are beautifully packaged and healthy! This makes three varieties in my garden, but the addiction I was referring to was hybridizing them! I get enough of that with daylilies!
Name: Mary
Crown Point, Indiana (Zone 5b)
josieskid
Jul 30, 2018 4:27 PM CST
Actually, I need to correct myself - I also have some of those variegated, colored leaves Iris. With the blue (grey) and white, and green and yellow stripes. They are beautiful!
Name: Evelyn
Northern CA Sierra foothills - (Zone 8a)
Hybridizer Region: United States of America Region: California Annuals Bulbs Butterflies
Cat Lover Foliage Fan Irises Organic Gardener Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter
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evelyninthegarden
Jul 30, 2018 4:30 PM CST
Mary ~ Welcome! to the Iris Forum Hurray!

Watch out you don't go looking at all the pictures of irises! Whistling

I say, watching this forum, and all of its threads can really open your eyes to all the beautiful irises you never, ever know existed! ("Iris virus" is contagious!)
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold, when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.” ~Charles Dickens
(This seems to apply to May as well!)
Name: Mary
Crown Point, Indiana (Zone 5b)
josieskid
Jul 30, 2018 5:11 PM CST
Thank you, Evelyn. It looks like there are more Iris varieties than daylilies! And, whoever thought up TBFINDER.COM is a genius!

DaisyDo, thank you for all your great advice, but I don't like to dig in the clay/rocks that comprises my garden soil when it's wet.

So, I've heard of "lady bits", and "lady parts", but never knew there were "lady shovels"! Rolling on the floor laughing

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