En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - June 08, 2010

From: Pickerington, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Propagation, Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Trimming iris leaves in Pickerington OH
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I recently trimmed the stems and leaves of my iris plants in late May - I realize now this was a bit early. The leaves are still about 3-4" out of the ground. I would like to half them and move some to another garden and also put mulch down on the garden. Should I mulch now and wait until fall to half and move the plants? Should I go ahead and move the plants now? Have I killed the plants by trimming them to early? Is there anything I should do in order to try to save the plants if trimming them early was detrimental? I'm not good at gardening and these were actually iris my mom planted about 10 years ago. She will be very mad at me if I killed them all just because I got a little zealous trying to "clean up" the garden. Please help!

ANSWER:

Iris seem to be pretty self-sufficient, and we wouldn't worry too much about all the particulars. First, no, don't move the tubers now, wait until early Fall. Second, no, don't mulch them. Those tubers need to be partially exposed to the air. In future, you should wait until the blades or leaves start looking frowsey, then trim them back. The leaves will die back in the winter anyway, and you can pull off the dead blades when you do your Fall cleanup. It is very possible they will grow new leaves even now. We don't know if you have an iris native to North America, but figure you probably have a "bearded" iris, Iris germanica which is native to (surprise!) Germany. There are a few irises native to North America and 6 native to Ohio, which we are listing below with some illustrations. If you feel that is what you have, you can follow the links to our webpage on those irises and learn more about their care.

Irises Native to Ohio:

Iris brevicaulis (zigzag iris)

Iris cristata (dwarf crested iris)

Iris verna (dwarf violet iris)

Iris versicolor (harlequin blueflag)

Iris virginica (Virginia iris)

Iris virginica var. shrevei (Shreve's iris)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Iris brevicaulis

Iris cristata

Iris verna

Iris versicolor

Iris virginica

 

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Lifespan and pruning of cedar elm in San Antonio
October 03, 2009 - How long do cedar elm trees live? How can you estimate the age of one, or tell if it is nearing the end of its normal lifespan? Do you have any recommendations for selecting someone to prune it proper...
view the full question and answer

Pruning Agarita in the Winter
February 18, 2012 - I recently came upon a small grouping of agarita plants that had been somewhat choked by cedar. Having removed the cedar I noticed there were quite a lot of dead branches within the shrubs. Would Fe...
view the full question and answer

Control of out-of-bounds Virginia creeper
September 16, 2007 - Our Virginia creeper (Woodbine) has outgrown its planned location this past summer. What is the best way to prune ivy stems for next years controlled growth?
view the full question and answer

Clipping of beans from newly planted Tecoma stans
April 22, 2008 - I purchased a Esperanza Plant in a pot from a nursery in April of 2008. We planted it and it is doing fine, but came with blooms and beans. Do I need to do clip or prune the beans at this stage of g...
view the full question and answer

Should black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta) plants be cut back
May 02, 2007 - I have black-eyed susan plants that were beautiful last year and flowered for a long time. Do they need to be cut back and if so, how much?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center