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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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Tuesday - April 22, 2008

From: pahrump, NV
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Browning of leaf tops on Iris plants
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My Iris plants bloomed beautifully, now some of the leaves are turning brown from the top down, about half way. Is this normal? What can I do about it and should I cut off the brown leaves? Also, what causes this?

ANSWER:

Irises are very tough and, unless you have borers in the rhizomes, it is okay for them to have some brown leaf tips. We always liked to trim them off below the browning with a sharp scissors or pruner, and at a diagonal. No particular reason, it just seemed more attractive that way. You need to leave as much healthy leaf as you can, as the leaves are the manufacturing facilities building up the root systems of the iris and preparing the rhizomes to expand and give you more blooms next year. In the Fall, you can trim off all the leaves the same way, in a fan, about 4 to 5 inches above the root system. Clean out any dead litter around the rhizomes to help prevent disease or mold. See this page of Images of iris care. Some of the images can be clicked on for more information.

 

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