Irises are one of my favorite flowering perennials because they are truly low-maintenance plants. Once your irises are established in your garden, you really don’t need to do anything for them to bloom nicely. My irises have been in my garden for over a decade now and they come back year after year looking more impressive than ever. I like to take credit for my irises but in reality, I don’t do anything with them all year long. The only thing I do every year is I cut back my irises in the Fall. And I do divide my iris if it gets overcrowded but that doesn’t happen every year. Here, I’ll show you how I cut back my irises and I will also go over when and why you have to cut back your irises.
You can watch my video on how to cut back irises.
What’s the difference between Deadheading Irises and Cutting back Irises?
Deadheading iris is when you cut off the dead flowers after they bloom while cutting back irises is when you cut back the entire iris plant down including the stem and leaves.
Is it necessary to deadhead Irises?
Individually deadheading every single iris after they bloom is not necessary if your variety of iris does not rebloom. Deadheading may help with reblooming although just know it’s never a guarantee that rebloomers rebloom.
Is it necessary to cut back Irises?
Cutting back irises is necessary and should be done every year.
Why Do You Have to Cut Back Your Iris?
There are 2 reasons why you have to cut back irises.
The first reason why you cut back irises is for aesthetic reasons. Irises can grow rather large and by the end of summer, it looks rather unsightly. My irises are beautifully planted in a row but it always looks unruly after blooming and will need to be cut back for my garden to look neat and tidy.
The second reason why you have to cut back your iris is to prevent diseases and pests. Cutting back your iris can help control Iris borers, bacterial leaf blight, and leaf spots.
When to Cut Back Irises?
The best time to cut back irises is when the leaves have died and turned completely brown. It may be tempting to cut back irises after it blooms in the summer, but don’t! You need to keep the iris leaves intact because the leaves will help provide much-needed energy for the bulbs. That’s why it’s critical that you don’t cut back your Iris too early.
Wait after 3 to 4 frosts before you cut back irises. Depending on where you live, this could be mid to late Fall. Instead of constantly checking the temperature in the Fall, I usually go by the look. The best way to tell when it’s time to cut back irises is when the leaves look dead and brown.
How to Cut Back Irises
It’s easy to cut back your Iris. You will need gardening scissors and gloves. Here is how I cut back my Siberian iris. Just trim the entire iris plant down- including all the leaves and stems. Leave about 2 inches of stems above ground. Make sure to wait until your iris leaves have turned brown before cutting them back.
How to Cut Back Bearded Iris
Similar to cutting back Siberian Iris, wait for the leaves of your bearded iris to turn brown before you cut them. Once the leaves have turned brown in the Fall, trim the bearded iris leaves down with a scissor until 2 inches above the ground.
Good luck cutting back your iris this Fall.