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  • Subject: Re: CUT BACK IRIS?
  • From: neilm@charter.net
  • Date: Sun, 05 Aug 2001 16:48:49 -0000

--- In iris-talk@y..., Nick Zentena <zentena@h...> wrote:
> On August 4, 2001 10:53 pm, neilm wrote:
[I may try cutting back foliage in] that area of the garden.  The 
trouble is, that acknowledges the growth cycle of the iris, not the 
borer.  It's worth a try, is it not?"
Nick Zentena responded:  "I thought the idea behind cleanup was to 
get the eggs out of the garden. If you cut down the number of over 
wintering eggs you cut down the problems next year.--Nick"

Neil continues:
As I have often done, I did a logical shortcut there, omitting 
several steps in a chain of thoughtful consideration....Let me fill 
in the gaps.

In that colder (6b) area of the garden frosts have a tendency to 
pond, and iris foliage gets frost-burned long before the other area 
begins even to slow down growth.  Dennis Kramb's sanitation procedure-
-using cutting back the foliage as a borer control measure--does not 
interfere with his iris's energy cycle, as they are in a similar 
condition in Ohio as mine are in my 6b area.  His are through 
growing  for the year, but he's talking about early October, an 
effective time for borer control by removal of potentially egg-
infested foliage from the garden.

I'm quite a bit longer in season, and by late October or the first 
week of November my foliage in the cold area reaches a stage similar 
to what his was a month earlier.  The borer life cycle, however, may 
be timed differently, also due to the latitude and season-length 
difference, but if I do the cut back (as I now plan to do for that 
zone) I am taking a chance that I may also intercept a vector 
(infected leaves) and by removing them also accomplish some effective
borer control.

My risk is that I expose the rhizomes and crowns of the iris in the 
frost pocket to potential winter injury by removing their natural 
insulation--their foliage, damaged but still present.

"It's worth a try" was intended to be understood as to be saying--the 
risk of damage is of less importance than the chance of better borer 
control, is it not?

I'm still learning.....

But all of this is aside from the original question about cutting 
back iris foliage--DURING the active growing season.  I had a thought 
about that a day or two ago that may shed some light on the question:

When was the last time you saw a mowed lawn in bloom?  In other 
words, gone to seed?  And I'm not talking about Dandelions.

Grass, cut back, grows vegetative tissues to replace those lost 
(i.e., leaves).  Fruiting, reproductive tissue (seed heads in grass, 
blossoms and pods in iris) depend on mature foliage present and 
having done its job, along with some hormonal and nutritional 
balances that are radically disturbed by mowing--or foliage cut 
back.  That's why I am so adamnt about not doing the leaf cut during 
active growth. There's an equation--good leaves now, good bloom later.

Neil Mogensen  zone 6b/7a near Asheville, NC

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