I'm new to irises- planted a new bed last fall- most of the new buds are dying before they bloom??
Sometimes newly planted iris that were planted late in the season don't have time to establish well enough to get a good bloom the next year. Then they kind of jettison blooms that they can't support. It looks like in the second photo like you have a fan laying down, which would indicate to me that there aren't a lot of roots holding things up. It doesn't look dry there now, but a really dry winter can make it hard for the rhizomes to establish as well. If the rhizomes suffered frost heave that can also make it hard. If you give them care this next year, then next spring they should be stunning for you.
Thanks- I was hoping that's all it is.
The bed did get put in late. I don't think there were frost heaves, but the soil depth is questionable (they're sitting on added dirt on top of newspaper on top of old weeds on top of ledge- the weeds and newspaper hadn't fully composted when the rhizomes were planted- hopefully they're breaking down now).
Should I cut the flowers off? Do anything else?
The iris are planted in a shallow bed that is rock, then weeds then newspaper then some dirt on top? How deep is this bed? My iris' roots go down very deep into the soil. If the bed is too shallow then your iris will fall over and need staked when they do bloom.