Should I Deadhead My Bearded Irises?

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The large, colorful blooms of the bearded iris make it a popular flower among gardeners, but once its blooms are spent, they can become unsightly. If you aren't familiar with bearded irises, you might wonder whether they should be deadheaded.


Deadheading means removing the spent blooms of a flowering plant. It encourages the plant to put energy into producing more blooms instead of making seed pods It's also done to simply "clean up" old, dead blooms.

Types and Growth

Bearded iris come in a wide range of colors, including purple, blue, yellow, orange or mixtures of several colors. They can grow from as small as 8 in. to heights of 2 or 3 ft., depending on the variety. In general, bearded iris like full sun and do not grow well in wet or boggy soil.

Deadheading Care

Bearded irises only produce one blooming stalk in the spring or early summer, so deadheading will not increase the number of blooms on the plant. Deadheading is not necessary for a bearded iris, but if the unsightly look of the old brown, wilted flowers bothers you, you can remove them to improve the look of your landscape.

How to Deadhead Bearded Iris

Each bloom of a bearded iris usually lasts for about a day, so to keep up appearances, they should be deadheaded every day. This can be done by simply pinching off the spent flower with the fingers or small pruning shears. Once all of the blooms are finished on a stalk, the entire stalk should be removed down to the foliage.

Additional Information

When deadheading iris, if you notice the plant has some diseased or yellowed leaves, they should be cut off as well. If the whole plant seems afflicted, cut off all of the foliage to within 4 to 6 in. of the ground.