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The Do’s and Don’ts of Daylilies

Today’s Special

Don’t miss the daylilies!  These summer blooming, clump forming perennials are showing out around here, especially on the right-of-way at Exit 93 on Interstate 40, not too far from our Tennessee place.  Their bright orange flowers having been blooming now for 2 weeks.  I don’t know the history of these plants but I do look forward to them every June, even though it might have something to do with the great love of orange around here.

Do take note. That’s the nice thing about Hemerocallis, they can thrive on the side of a hot interstate in spite of occasional mowings, extreme roadside temperatures, random litter (shameful), blazing sun, flood, draught, unchecked weeds, no fertilizer and then come back ready to bloom all over again after a winter of freezing temperatures, layers of ice and snow, accidental dosings of roadway salt brine solutions and late spring frosts. You do have to love their tenacity.

Don’t fail to look for daylilies wherever you are.  You’ll see some of the best use of daylilies in public places like street corners and retail, financial and fast-food establishment plantings. I even saw a daylily in a hanging basket recently amidst other summer loving plants. Do call them versatile and dependable.

Don’t limit yourself.  The old-fashioned orange, “ditch-bank” daylily, is probably the most common, but daylilies don’t stop there.  Do shop around and you’ll find them in light, medium and dark shades of yellow, orange, red, pink and lavender…any color but blue.  Because we have a red brick house, I’m liking the red, pink and lavender shades, and have found several at the local Master Gardener plant sales and even found a true red one at Lowes recently.

Don’t pass them up. My collection started with a clump of the double orange bloomers from Marks (MS). When I worked there at the health department, I would walk down the shady residential streets during my lunch hour.  One day I met an older gentleman selling clumps of double orange day lilies and elephant ear bulbs in his front yard.  I enjoyed a minute of chatting with him and left with a start of both. The day lilies had come from his parents Quitman County farm, so I’m thinking they must be from hundred-year-old stock plants. I’m not sure about the elephant ears, but I do know that the double orange daylilies blooming in my yard right now are from that start… they make me smile.  Mississippi’s Gestalt Gardener, Felder Rushing, would call them “pass-a-long” plants.

Do understand daylilies. Most individual plants have tens of blooms every year and will bloom for about two weeks. But, each bloom lasts for only one day, hence the name…daylily.  That is important to know if you want to cut them arrangements.  And they will drop pollen on whatever surface they are sitting on which will stain a table cloth.

Don’t underestimate a daylily. They can grow pretty much wherever you live. They aren’t particular about their living conditions as long as they are in mostly sunny to full sun locations, but will even bloom in filtered shade.  That gives you lots of places to plant them. I like to tuck them in between other plants, especially larger shrubs to add color and be surprised by their colorful blooms peeking out.  Plant them in a row, in mass, bordering the vegetable garden, in any sunny flower bed, along the driveway, on the edge of the woods, as accents, in a flower pot or, it seems, even a hanging basket.  Hardy daylilies strive to please.

Do check out the newer hybrid rebloomers. These lovelies do need a little more water to keep the blooms coming but they will reward you greatly…all the way till the first frost!

Do share daylilies. They need to be divided every 4 – 5 years.  You can start in August and continue through the fall, after flowering and before frost. Cut them with a sharp shooter (a pointed, narrow, shovel) or with an old utility knife. The literature says to plant the divisions in 12-inch wide, 12-inch deep holes, but really, an 8-inch hole works for me. Spread out the roots, back fill and water them in well to settle the soil and fill in the voids, and off they’ll go!

I do think it’s time to find a maroon daylily.  There might be a little too much orange going on up here.