Care of Iris After They Finish Blooming

Care of Iris After They Finish Blooming

Iris are lovely plants and they grow well in many parts of the country. This isn’t a “plant and forget” type of perennial, however and our customers often ask what to do with their iris plants after they flower. Here are some tips for iris care:

  • Once the iris blooms have faded, cut the old stems down into the leaves. This removes the less-than-attractive stalk and removes developing seeds so that they won’t produce seedlings throughout the garden.
  • As long as the foliage is green and attractive leave it in the garden. Some bearded iris varieties tend to get leaf-spot or die-back as the summer wears on. If you see this on your plants you can cut the foliage down to neaten the look of the garden. Most people cut the groups of leaves in a fan shape that peaks about six to eight inches above the ground.
  • If your iris didn’t flower well this year it could be that they are in too much shade or that they need dividing. Sometimes the amount of sunlight in a garden changes over time as surrounding shrubs and trees grow larger. Evaluate the sun that actually hits your plants over the course of a day to determine if your plants are now in less than four hours of direct sun. If so, make plans to move them. Should the problem be that they need dividing, go on to the next tip!
  • To divide iris dig the entire clump out of the ground. Take off pieces of the outside, most vital growth. Look to see what part of the plant is most healthy and full looking and use that. Cut off a piece that’s about the size of a small dinner plate to put back in the ground. Amend the soil in the area where the plants are to go by mixing in some compost or composted manure. If you are dividing bearded iris (AKA German iris) replant so that the top of the rhizomes is just above the surface of the soil. Note: don’t think that you have to replant every bit of the iris you’ve just divided…remember that every piece you put back into the ground will need dividing again in about five years. If you want a low-maintenance garden put back one to three pieces and throw the rest in the compost pile or give them away. Iris can be divided immediately after flowering, in the early fall (early September on Cape Cod), or in late April. Iris that are divided in the spring or fall may not flower for a year or two as they get reestablished.
  • Fertilize your iris with an organic fertilizer in the spring. Water deeply once a week if it hasn’t rained. Frequent splashing of automatic irrigation systems can cause leaf-spot on these plants, especially on the bearded varieties.
  • If you love iris and want a succession of flowering, plant bearded, Siberian and Japanese varieties…that way you’ll have flowers from the spring into July!
These Siberian iris need a few things: weeding, removal of dead stalks, and more frequent watering.


  1. Lucy on September 16, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Thank you.

  2. Lucy on September 16, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Thank you. This is a wonderful, helpful article. I like the idea of different kinds of iris to extend the blooming season. I must try that!

  3. Diane Davis on May 16, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Will look forward to trying your suggestions on caring for my beautiful iris. Its a joy to see these beautiful plants flourish. Thank you for the hints.

  4. eve [email protected] in israel on May 7, 2019 at 4:25 am

    we planted bulbs last year..purple…they bloomed in march..this year blooms again purple …white…yellow..a lovely surpri se…thank u 4 the favorites +i want 2 keep them going…EVE AHARON IN ISRAEL

  5. Adele on May 8, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Thank you so much for this advice. Ours are very well established and with now seperate them. I left the stems last year as thought they had to be left for the goodness to grown back like daffodils, but now ours are finishing to flower I will cut all the stems out. Xx

  6. Love on May 25, 2019 at 7:17 pm

    Thank you for the info!! Dividing now.

  7. Peggy Thomas on August 6, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    I was given several plants, but I’m not wanting to replant until spring. What is the best way to store the bulbs?

    • CLFornari on August 6, 2019 at 6:14 pm

      Peggy – the best way to store the tubers is by planting them in dirt. You can move them in the spring, but get them in the soil asap because if you store them longer it’s likely they will dry out and die.

  8. ChrisD on May 18, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    I divided some iris last year, cutting off what looked like dead or dried up parts and threw them at the edge of the woods. Carefully transplanted the good ones adding bone meal. They bloomed beautifully this year. And guess what? The ones tossed by the woods also grew and a few dropped in the yard. No blooms but maybe next year. Obviously they are very hardy!

  9. Lori on June 2, 2022 at 2:07 pm

    What about crabgrass and weeds growing around my irises?

    • CLFornari on June 6, 2022 at 10:43 am

      You’ll have to pull the weeds out by hand. Iris are not weed-smothering perennials, so need maintenance (weeding) on an on-going basis. Garden gloves and some time are all it takes!

  10. Margo Beyer on June 14, 2022 at 6:03 am

    Is there something I can do to beautify the
    space where the iris/leaves once bloomed ?

    • CLFornari on June 20, 2022 at 11:33 am

      Yes! You can plant colorful annuals next to the iris, or place a colorful pot filled with annual flowers in front of Iris.

  11. Kathy Van Flue on July 13, 2022 at 3:26 pm

    After the irises have stopped blooming, do i keep watering them to promote growth of the rhizome?

    • CLFornari on July 18, 2022 at 5:21 pm

      Yes, you would water deeply once a week if nature hasn’t delivered an inch of rain that week.

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