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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Tuesday - April 15, 2008

From: pahrump, NV
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Propagation, Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Trimming bloom stalks of iris
Answered by:

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty: I live in Nevada, and have some very beautiful Iris plants. They have all blossomed and now I am left with stems. Is there any way I can cut them back so they blossom again? If so how should it be done?

ANSWER:

Different kinds of irises present their blooms on the stalks in different ways; however, usually two or three blooms will appear on the stalk, each one blooming and beginning to die, as another one begins to open. It is important not to trim off the stalk until the last of those blooms begins to dry. Then, you can nip off the fleshy stalk clear down to the base. Sometimes (although not always) this will encourage the iris to bloom some more. Iris have a fairly short blooming period, so if your plants are already past their bloom time, they probably will not bloom again until next year. However, it is important to keep the base of the plant cleaned up, to help prevent disease and pests from attacking the rhizomes from which the iris grows. The best way to get more flowers is to have more plants, this takes a while, but the plant continues to expand by rhizome each year; dividing them every two or three years will give you more plants and thus more blooms. Here is a website on iris care and division that goes into more detail.

 

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