Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

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!

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

Rose care for Austin
August 18, 2013 - I am a transplant from the Pacific NW and need to relearn rose care for Austin. When is the best time to cut back the roses, or do I even bother? I also need to find out how far back I can trimming a...
view the full question and answer

Care for penstemons in South Jordan, UT
June 21, 2009 - I have Firecracker Penstemons and they bloomed beautifully this year. How do I trim them and when? Will they continue to bloom throughout the summer?
view the full question and answer

Cold damage to Texas wild olive tree in San Antonio
May 02, 2010 - I have a Texas Olive tree that was unprotected from the 2010 cold winter here in San Antonio, TX. It is the end of April and there is no sign of growth on any of the branches. If the tree is still a...
view the full question and answer

Mystic Spires salvia in transplant shock
July 04, 2008 - Hello. I live in Taylor, Tx. Just outside Austin, Texas. I recently planted mystic spires. One gallons and will receive the hot afternoon sun. All the research says they can tolerate this location. Th...
view the full question and answer

Do yuccas die after blooming?
October 11, 2010 - We have a blue yucca which was planted 2 years ago and is just now blooming with a tower of white flowers. Will the entire plant die after blooming as the century plants do? If so, is there a way to s...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.