Most of us are familiar with cutting back ornamental grasses in late winter months.
This helps to remove dead leaves and promote fresh, appealing growth.
You may be wondering if it is also important to cut back grassy irises like African (D. Vegeta) or bicolor (Dietes bicolor); plants that have the slim, longer leaves popular to grasses.
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Able to use as a perennial or annual, the Bicolor Iris, also referred to as the African Iris, has the appearance of a beardless iris with stunning flowers and sword, narrow-shaped evergreens that last for one day and new ones replace them fast.
With a two-foot height and spread about a foot, you can plant it in full sun to partly shade and see it flower in bursts of 14-day intervals with every bloom having several buds on everyone.
If you would like your iris to flower as much as possible, take out the leaves as they start forming.
After that, once blooming is done, just cut the stem of the flower to the ground.
To grow this amazing plant in a climate where freezing occurs, dig up the rhizomes before the first frost for overwinter storage or grow in a container you can bring inside for cold weather.
Lime green, narrow, long, sword-like leaves usually germinate from multiple fans emitting from the clump’s base.
Blooms emerge in summer and spring seasons.
The beautiful iris flowers are lemon yellow, and the middle of each of the three petals is a dark purple area surrounded by an orange ring.
It is great to plant as specimen plantings, or in swathes for a massed impact.
This plant does well in moist, fertile, well-drained soils.
Fairly tolerant to frost and needs a bit of water once established.
If foliage gets untidy in spring, you should trim back to 200 mm.
Bicolor African Iris
These have beautiful flowers that have contrasting black spots edged in orange.
It is great for ponds and bogs since it needs constant moisture.
It flowers throughout the season, simple to grow, and you can cut back in the fall to let plant regenerate.
The blooms are great for cutting.
Its appealing sword-like leaves stay dark green year-round.
The medium texture of Bicolor African Iris blends well into your garden; however, you can always balance it by a few finer or coarser plants for an effective composition.
The plant will need occasional upkeep.
Trim off the bloom heads once they fade and die to encourage more flowers late into the season.
Growing and planting
This plant can grow to a height of roughly 24 inches at maturity, with a 24-inch spread.
When you use Bicolor African Iris as a bedding plant or grown in masses, individual plants need a spacing of about 14 inches apart.
The bloom stalks might be weak, so they might need staking in very rich soils or exposed sites.
This plant will grow at a medium rate, and under perfect conditions will live for about a decade.
It does well in full sun to partial shade.
This plant likes growing in moist to wet soil, and can even put up with some standing water.
Bicolor African Iris isn’t specific as to soil pH or type.
It can put up with pollution in urban areas.
Parts of this plant are poisonous to animals and humans.
For this reason, you should be careful when you plant it around pets and kids.
You can propagate this plant by division, but as a cultivated variety, understand that it might subject to specific bans or constraints on propagation.
This plant is a great option for your garden; however, it’s also a great choice for planting outdoor containers and pots.
With its upright growth habit, it’s great for planting it close to the center of the pot, surrounded by plants that spill over the edges and smaller plants.
Keep in mind that when you grow plants in outside baskets and containers, they might need regular watering than when in the garden or backyard.
What is in a name?
Dietes plants were once classified in the genus Moraea; however, they were removed as they have rhizomes, in contrast to Moraea, that have corms.
Corms are a different kind of underground plant stem, one that is more bulging.
These plants are popularly referred to as wood iris, butterfly iris, bicolor iris, Japanese iris, fortnight lily, African iris, among other names.
Begin with routine maintenance
On an as-required basis, use pruning shears for cutting yellow or brown leaves back to the greenery’s base.
It would help if you cut cleanly and sharply across the leaf blade, close to the plant.
If you would like to prevent the plant from self-seeding, use scissors to cut under the green seedpod to take it out.
You can clip or pinch spent flowers; however, do not take out a healthy-looking bloom stalk.
It can continue producing lost of flowers.
At one point, however, the bloom stalks decline can get obvious, and you can cut it back to the crown.
Is cutting back important?
An extensive cut, as you might do with ornamental grasses, is certainly appropriate if you have abandoned the Dietes for many years, and the leaves have more yellow and brown than green.
Once you’re done using hedge clippers to cut the whole plant back to the ground, the plant can happily return to life, come spring.
It is important to thoroughly water these usually drought-tolerant plants after cutting.
Provide them also with a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen to help in promoting new growth.
Sharpening the tools
So, in the middle of cautiously tending to winter lettuces and pruning the crape myrtle trees, remember to check out the grassy irises whether they may use a wholesale cut back, or maybe a bit of touch-up clipping.
This means you need to equip yourself with the right gardening tools that will assist with the clipping.
A variety of spiky, green, fresh foliage can be your reward for a cut appropriately done.