Re: [gardeners] Iris Maintenance

Martha Brown (
Sat, 2 Oct 1999 18:58:28 -0500

According to "The Gardener's Iris Book",  published by the Taunton Press in

by William Shear (a biologist at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and a 40
year iris enthusiast, who has been published in Natural History, American
Scientist, flower and Garden, and Fine Gardening).

page 45:
"----there are two things to avoid.  Don't mulch bearded irises during the
summer (it encourages rot), and don't cut off the leaves unless they begin
to really look terrible.  Somehow it has become folk wisdom to cut back iris
leaves after blooming, but this only weakens the plants and steals flowers
from next year's season."

To reduce pests and disease he recommends collecting and burning all dead
iris foliage and organic debris twice a year, in late fall and early spring.
During the spring and summer, pull off and destroy any outer leaves that
wither.  Regular replanting will avoid over crowding that contributes to
pest and disease infestations.  Also avoid commercial fertilizers as they
contribute to lush, growth susceptible to pests and diseases.

This is a great book about all kinds of iris. It is available through the
American Iris Society (the only current book on iris they sell) along with
the "World Of Iris" published in 1978 I believe.  It is also available in
bookstores and from Taunton Press.   List price is $25.00 so you might want
to contact your local library if you don't wish to invest that much.

M Brown
NW Oklahoma, USA
USDA Zone 6b,  Sunset Zone 35

-----Original Message-----
From: Kathy Kennedy <>
To: <>
Date: Saturday, October 02, 1999 6:21 PM
Subject: Re: [gardeners] Iris Maintenance

>I don't cut mine back either.  I think the foliage feeds the tubers,
>helping the plant stay strong for the next season.  Also, this is the lazy
>garden method.
>Probably either way is OK.
>--Kathy K, mid-Missouri, zone 5
>From: Michael & Bambi Cantrell <>
>I little bit doubt that my way is the best way, but I often don't
>cut my iris's back, unless they really begin to look ratty.
>I hesitate to say this, but I haven't had any disease problems
>with them, and they rebloom every year.
>I'd at least wait until the foliage gets significantly yellowed
>before cutting them back.
>Good luck.  :-)
>Coastal Carolina
>    Can anyone tell me if I should be cutting the foliage on my Iris's now?
> I did read that you do this when you divide them but since mine are in
>only one season, I am not sure whether I should leave the foliage long for
>winter (Zone 8).
>    Pauline & Gary
>    Wilmington, NC