How to Prune a Bearded Iris


Bearded iris provide large, colorful blooms to the early summer garden. These perennial flowers are available in a range of colors. The bearded iris earns it name for the small fuzzy patch on each of its petals, which resembles a beard. Bearded irises grow from a specialized root called a rhizome. The rhizome stores nutrients after blooming completes for the following year's flowering period. Proper pruning keeps the iris attractive for the rest of summer without inhibiting the rhizome's nutrient storage.

Step 1

Remove the flowers as soon as they finish blooming. Pinch the spent flowers off behind the flower head and discard them.

Step 2

Remove the entire flower stalk once all the buds have opened and completed blooming. Cut the stalk off at the base where it emerges from the foliage, using a pair of sharp shears.

Step 3

Remove damaged or diseased leaves throughout the summer season. Cut off individual leaves at soil level. Remove only torn leaves, those that have discolorations or other signs of disease and those that are yellowing and drying out.

Step 4

Cut back the remaining foliage to the ground in fall after it yellows and dies back naturally. Die back usually occurs after the first frost.

Tips and Warnings

  • Dark streaks on leaves are a sign of iris borers in the rhizomes, according to Ohio State University Extension. Borers infest the rhizome, so dig up the entire affected iris and dispose of the rhizomes so the borers do not spread to healthy plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Shears


  • Ohio State University Extension: Midsummer Care of Bearded Iris
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Pruning Perennials
Keywords: pruning bearded iris, iris after-bloom care, trimming bearded irises

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.