Monday, July 30, 2018

A Daylily For Every Day

     Daylilies seem like a constant companion in the mid summer and with 80,000 varieties you can find one in any size shape or colour to suit your needs.

     Daylilies come from North Eastern Asia, China, Korea and Japan and have been in cultivation for centuries. The common orange Daylily was brought to the West in the 17th Century and in some areas is considered an invasive species, don't worry in our climate that just makes the plants a reliable perennial! What is considered invasive in a mild climate is usually perfect for ours! The name Hemerocallis comes from the Greek words hemera (day) and kalos (beautiful), the flowers usually last only one day but a new one takes it's place from the multiple buds on the stem. Some Daylilies are scented and some bloom twice in one season "rebloomers". Daylilies are not true lilies, they do not grow from a bulb or are susceptible to red lily beetle.

     These plants are extremely easy to grow in our climate, love full sun, are drought tolerant and need little care except trimming the dead leaves in the fall or spring after winter. Daylilies in my experience have zero pests or diseases. The long arching leaves are excellent for hiding the foliage of daffodils and tulips as they wither in the summer and are also a great texture for any garden, below forming a living skirt around this tree.

     For a little fun or if you need extremely detailed information there are many Hemerocallis Societies around the world a good website is the American Hemerocallis Society
here is a list of common questions and some examples of Daylilies that sold from $4,000 to over $6,000! 

     The flowers come in a range of colours from orange and yellow to pinks, purples, reds, greenish, near black to almost pure white. There are also flower characteristics to consider including, height, scent, ruffled edges, arching petals, contrasting eye colour and reblooming. I just took a walk around my neighbourhood to survey some of the Daylilies available, I don't know all the varieties by name but I'm sure you can find one just like it at your local greenhouse.

Delicate pink with ruffled edge.

This one appeared near black in real life.

Orchid-like pinks

Pure yellow

This plant is massive in size and flowers, brilliant cherry red.

Chicago Apache in my front yard blooms reliably with large dark red flowers every year.

El Desperado, one of the largest blooms available

Pardon Me, a very small cultivar with very dark red flowers

Stella d'Oro, another small variety with continuous blooms perfect for front of the border or mass plantings.

     Caring for Daylilies is also extremely easy making it probably the perfect perennial. After flowering simply cut off the flower stems to prevent energy going to seeds. I just let Daylilies freeze to the ground in the fall and carefully tug the dead foliage away in the spring or cut with sharp shears. Division is easy, after several years your Daylily might be getting too big, simply take a spade and dig out a clump and transplant to another area or give away. Many years ago when my garden was new a friend got rid of all her orange Daylilies and I was the benefactor, today I have more than enough for one yard! If I had another acre I would collect as many Daylilies as possible the combinations of colour size and shape seem endlessly fascinating!

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