I have bearded iris growing at 7,000 feet.
I want to see which of the iris will rebloom this season, and when the blooms are finished, to split and propagate the plants.
In either case, it's my understanding that the steps are to (a) cut the stem as close to the rhizome as possible while leaving at least two leaves, (b) do so quickly (days, not weeks or months) after the iris stops blooming, and (c) fertilize.
But the bottom-most leaves of the iris are tightly wrapped up and around the stem. I tried loosening the leaves to cut the stem closer to the rhizome, but only succeeded in tearing the leaves.
So bottom-line, I can cut to the rhizome, making the plant leafless, or I can leave two or more leafs intact by cutting several inches above the rhizome.
What is the real importance of the two leaves? Is it just for looks, or critical to health and propagation?
If I need the two leaves, will they unravel from the stem, making it easier to cut to the rhizome, if I wait several weeks?
Are re-bloom and propagation two different problems with slightly different steps? I.e., do I need leaves only for propagation?