Teresa D
Teresa D
  • Hometalker
  • Snellville, GA
Asked on May 3, 2012

What do you do with the foliage when the flowers are gone?

Msc12149616Jst868551Marla
+23

Answered

Daylillies, Iris and a few other perennial flowers in my yard leave less-than-attractive foliage behind. Last year, I left it and it looked yucky until this spring, when I put down pinestraw. Do you guys typically cut the foliage back? I thought I read somewhere that cutting it could affect the growth of the flower the following year? I want to neaten things up and am getting pretty tired of seeing the straggly remains sticking out or laying there but I don't want to do any damage.
q what do you do with the foliage when the flowers are gone, flowers, gardening
25 answers
  • 3po3
    on May 3, 2012

    I personally leave everything until late fall. I have a lot of irises, and I kind of like the greenery. I pull out all that ugly dead stuff, but I don't cut back the other foliage until pretty late fall. Don't know about lilies or your other flowers. Hope that helps. Good luck Teresa.

  • With our daffodils I put the craftsman mower to them. Normally about four or five weeks later once the bloom is gone. I understand that leaving them until they die back is supposed to put more back into the bulb in the ground, but every year they come back bigger and more then the last. But from what I understand is your supposed to keep the plant tops until they naturally die off which makes sense. But they end up looking like weeds so off with their heads when the mower comes out!

  • Terri J
    on May 3, 2012

    Teresa, I hate the look of dead folige, but I was told to leave it until late fall for the above reasons. So, I planted a few things that bloom right ater Daffodils due in front of then, and use that to try to "hide" the dead stuff.

  • Sandra R
    on May 3, 2012

    I also was told to leave the folliage till it dies back. Once they start to turn brown I cut them back. Spring bulbs that are done blooming, if you can easily pull on the leaf and it comes out of the ground you can cut it back, no more nutrients are going back to the bulb. My iris and daylilies I cut half off, and leave the rest. If you want my mother use to fold the spring bulb leaves down and put a rubberband around them, then they are not as noticable.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on May 3, 2012

    Sorry, Teresa, but you need to leave the foliage until it yellows as it is providing energy for the plant. The trick is to plant other things around those plants to hide the less-than-attractive foliage. This is why daffodils and daylilies are such a good combination, for example. Because the daylilies flush out as the daffodil foliage is dying. And, you'll have a longer season of blooms in your garden this way.

  • Erica Glasener
    on May 3, 2012

    Teresa, according to Brent Heath (of Brent and Beckys Bulbs) with daffodils once a third of the foliage (for daffodils) turns yellow you can go ahead and cut them back, you don't have to wait until it is brown. But as Doug points out that's why it is a good idea to pair daffodils with daylilies or if they are in deciduous shade you could combine them with hellebores which also helps to mask the unsightly foliage of daffodils when they die back after blooming. I cut back unsightly iris foliage after they bloom but only remove 1/3 of the clump.

  • Teresa D
    on May 3, 2012

    So, if I understand correctly, the yellow stuff, I can cut but the green, I need to leave - at least for now. *Sigh. You see in the picture, I don't really have alot of room to plant much else. this is the only spot in my whole yard that I get full sun so I have been fighting the urge to buy more plants to put there. I'm thinking of doing some rearranging anyway. I've got gladiolus coming up behind the "fire power" nandina. They are beautiful but always look weird coming up there. I've also got some azalea and another pretty shrub in the back that need to be moved. I guess I'll try to cover up the green laying on the ground with mulch. *pout

  • Amy P
    on May 3, 2012

    I have seen people "braid" the leaves and leave that way...looks cool!!

  • Teresa D
    on May 3, 2012

    wow ... that's an idea, Amy. I may try that!

  • Amy P
    on May 3, 2012

    I might have a photo....I went to a garden tour..and took LOTS of picks!

  • Terri J
    on May 3, 2012

    Teresa, you could probably get away with just a few dayliilies as they have a lot of foiiage and it sort of falls in all directions.

  • Tim S
    on May 3, 2012

    There is a type of day lilly that blooms all summer. They are called Stelladora. Try them for warm weather color.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on May 4, 2012

    You have plenty of space in there for more plants!

  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson)
    on May 4, 2012

    Another (a bit obsessive) way to deal with the yellowing blades it to fold all of them down with one blade left out with one hand, then take the left out blade and tie the folded ones into a bundle. You can then cover with a light layer of pine straw. (Did this for a May wedding for a client who had at least 300 daffodiles in her back yard landscape)

  • Teresa D
    on May 4, 2012

    Don't encourage me, Douglas! lol I do think some of those stelladoras would look nice. The leaves look almost like liriope. Four Season, I was trying to figure out how to tuck the leaves down and cover them with mulch. That's an idea I may try if the braiding thing doesn't work out.

  • Kitty W
    on May 4, 2012

    I was just clipping the the crocus that have finally yellowed and can now be cut down. I hate having to wait until the foliage yellows but up until the foliage/leaves turns yellow and dries up, they're working to nourish the bulb for future flowers. You can tie it up in a ponytail, a topknot and or any other imaginative way to make it look less unsightly although that is also not really good because it reduces the surface exposed to the sun. I've always done it and everything flowers just fine the following year but maybe not as robust as if I could force myself to leave them be. The sight of anything yellow makes me think: clip, cut, remove, etc.

  • Terri J
    on May 4, 2012

    @Tim S - that's what my day lily's do, only I never knew what they were called. I bought them all at a yard sale.

  • Kristine B
    on May 4, 2012

    my mom told me that u have to trim the long leaves half way down so they will grow of course and it will look alot better. give your babies a lil haircut. hope this helps you out . it will look better than they did for you last year

  • Kristine B
    on May 4, 2012

    this is a family growing tip. it works for my mom n my gma when she was still here.

  • Ana M
    on May 4, 2012

    good question! was just asking myself that today!!!

  • Melissa K
    on May 4, 2012

    I just cut them back half-way and allow other foliage to grow in fron of them until fall.

  • Gloria W
    on May 9, 2012

    Wait till they turn more brown. The nourishment for next year is going on now. Then cut them back. Same as for tulips and daffodils...

  • Marla
    on Mar 23, 2015

    I have a long line of 'Easter' flowers and after the blooms are all spent, I French braid the entire line. Start at one end and braid with 3 sections - each time grabbing a few more leaves to bring over to the middle. I end up with one fat wooly worm of a braid that stays until the leaves are completely died down to the soil. Then pick it up and compost it.

  • Jst868551
    on Jul 14, 2015

    I planted iris and day lilies together alternately, Iris bloom first then day lilies and the iris are mostly hidden. I'm going plant bulbs close in front of day lilies, then they will be less noticeable. I've also folded daffidil in half and secured with rubber bands. Hope this helps.

  • Msc12149616
    on Oct 2, 2016

    I planted other flowers such as Black Eyed Susan around it to hide the unsightly foliage, I do cut the foliage down halfway so the bulbs can continue to get nutrients from the sun process, the foliage from the other perennials hides it well, I also supplement by planting some annuals (instant color) around the foliage. Looks decent, and has color year round.

Your comment...