Hur­rah for heme­ro­cal­lis

Daylilies are now of­ten the flower of choice for many for­mer lily grow­ers be­cause the red lily bee­tle ig­nores them.

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Dorothy Dob­bie

Beauty in liv­ing things is al­ways ephemeral, but when it lasts for only one day, it seems all the more de­sir­able. So it is with daylilies, or Heme­ro­cal­lis, their botan­i­cal name. They pro­duce a bloom that opens in the morn­ing and fades within 24 hours, gen­er­ally overnight, al­though there are species that flower at night. For­tu­nately, daylily scapes, as the flower stem is called, have the abil­ity to pro­duce more than one bloom, the num­ber de­pend­ing on the va­ri­ety.

Of­ten the blos­soms are fra­grant, es­pe­cially the night bloomers, and there are new hy­brids that will even re-bloom, the most famous be­ing Stella de Oro, a smaller daylily with nar­row leaves and yel­low flow­ers. There are now sev­eral other choices and some of the newer cul­ti­vars will bloom for months.

Al­though at one time daylilies were con­sid­ered to be part of the lily fam­ily, they have since been re­moved to a group that is based on the flower stalk emerg­ing from a basal rosette of leaves. The group in­cludes Kniphofia (red hot pok­ers).

Daylilies have an in­ter­est­ing but per­haps lit­tle known trait in that they pro­duce a minia­ture daylily called a “pro­lif­er­a­tion” at nodes along the flower scapes. The pro­lif­er­a­tion can be planted and will pro­duce an ex­act clone of its par­ent. The plants can also be prop­a­gated through root divi­sion and seeds.

Daylilies, like true lilies, are easy to hy­bridize. There are over 60,000 cul­ti­vars named and reg­is­tered.

The flow­ers con­sist of three petals and three sepals, six sta­mens and a prom­i­nent, two-lobed an­ther. How­ever, the va­ri­ety of colour, shape and tex­ture of the three petals is as­ton­ish­ing. They can be ruf­fled, re­curved, long, slen­der and droop­ing, even dou­bled. The colours can range from creamy white to or­ange, to red, to pur­ple, to pink and cream and lemon yel­low and all shades in be­tween. Of­ten they have a con­trast­ing throat which can be dark or light or banded, wa­ter­marked, haloed, tipped, dot­ted or dusted or flecked. Petals can be edged in dark tones that mir­ror their throats. They can be di­a­mond dusted, where tiny crys­tals in the cells of the plant re­flect light cre­at­ing an il­lu­sion of be­ing dusted with sparkles. The va­ri­ety is end­less.

The most elu­sive colour is blue. While many va­ri­eties con­tain this colour as part of their name, I have never yet seen a true blue daylily. Don’t rely on pho­tos, ei­ther; the

colour has of­ten been ma­nip­u­lated. What the mar­keters call blue is usu­ally pur­ple, mauve or even some­times pink.

Plant dark coloured daylilies in a partly shaded area to pre­serve their vi­brant hues. Light colours do bet­ter in full sun.

Care for daylilies

Daylilies, a sun-lov­ing plant that need about five to six hours of sun­light a day, grow hap­pily pretty much any­where. You can give them a boost in spring­time by sprin­kling low ni­tro­gen, slow-re­lease fer­til­izer (such as 5-10-10) in the root zone, about six inches away from the base of the plant. Wa­ter it in well. Mulching can help re­tain mois­ture in the soil and sup­press weeds.

Don’t al­low the re-bloomers to dry out as this can stress the plant and pre­vent re-blooming.

If you no­tice hard “buds” that will not bloom, th­ese may be seed pods and should be re­moved to pro­mote more blooms in re-blooming va­ri­eties and strengthen blooming ca­pac­ity for reg­u­lar va­ri­eties.

Af­ter plant­ing, daylilies com­monly take a while to es­tab­lish and may not bloom or bloom well for the first two or three years, but be pa­tient. They are well worth the wait.

To divide daylilies you can choose the long and com­pli­cated method of dig­ging up the whole plant then care­fully un­tan­gling their roots, or the easy method of us­ing a sharp spade di­rected through the cen­tre of the crown to divide the plant into four pieces, then dig each out sep­a­rately. This is the eas­i­est way to deal with a long es­tab­lished plant that has grown very large. Yes, this will da­m­age some tu­bers, but if the daylily is very over­grown, this is small sac­ri­fice to pay in terms of time and en­ergy.

You can divide in ei­ther spring or fall, al­though in ar­eas where there is a lot of clay, the spring time is the eas­ier be­cause the ground gives up its hold on the roots much more read­ily.

In­wood daylily.

Bar­bara Ann white daylily.

Deep pur­ple daylily.

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