could you help me. Three years ago I was given some iris tubers.
They have grown very tall and produce beautiful white flowers for
quite a short time, then I am left with a mass of rather unsightly
tall leaves. They get blown around in the wind and also take up
too much room. I do like the flowers in their season, though. Can
they be cut down to say 20 cm until next year or should I lift them
out altogether? If I lift them, when should I plant them again?
irises are only short-lived flowers, but worth the effort. When
bulbs have finished flowering, food is taken from the leaves and
stored in the bulb for the next season's flowering. If you reduce
the foliage, you reduce the size of the bulb, which affects next
season's flowering. The foliage can be cut back a little, by say
a third, although I would avoid doing this if possible.
Are these bearded irises
or Dutch/Spanish irises? If they are Dutch/Spanish irises, just
bend the foliage over and tie with a rubber band until the foliage
has browned off and can be removed. This should hide unsightly foliage.
If they are bearded irises,
I wouldn't cut the foliage. Divide bearded irises every 3-4 years,
which may help. Foliage can be cut back when dividing bearded irises.
Replant straight away.
A clever way to hide
foliage is to plant around bulbs so that annuals or perennials are
coming up to hide the foliage as it dies down.
Yes, Dutch/Spanish irises
can be lifted and stored in a cool, dry place with the foliage intact
until it browns and dries off. Remove the dead foliage and store
the bulbs in a net bag or stocking in a cool, dry place. Replant
by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor
of Resource Management.
with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH