Sometimes trial and error is necessary to find what works

March 22, 2007



Are you thinking about planting daylilies this year? Now is a perfect time for planting them in our area- and for the daylily bug to bite.

If you don't already have a bed suitable for planting, consider your site and amend the soil with a good compost. Will your location get at least six hours of sunlight a day? Is the drainage good? If your daylily will be standing in water, you should be prepared to tell it goodbye. One year I planted a daylily that I just loved in a sort of dip at the edge of the flowerbed. It was lost because it was too low and, at that time, we had a lot of rain.

Tree roots are another consideration. Daylilies do well planted beneath trees that have a deep root but don't do well under trees with considerable surface roots. Your daylilies will appreciate mulching except right around the base of the plant. Cedar and cypress are not good choices for mulching daylilies.

A previous October 2004 "Gardeners' Dirt" article about daylilies has information that might be helpful regarding foliage, bloom seasons, planting and a bit of information regarding the origin of daylilies. The address to access the article is:  http://www.vcmga.org/2004_Oct14.html. This will take you to an article titled, October—the best time to plant daylilies.

The little tags that come with new daylilies fade and disappear, so if you intend to keep up with your named daylilies, use plant markers. In addition, drawing a map of the flowerbed for future reference is beneficial.

Daylilies are good landscaping plants. One of my friends has lined her driveway with yellow daylilies. When they are in bloom, it is a truly beautiful sight. For best landscaping purposes, use daylilies with evergreen foliage. An example of a dormant daylily doing well here is the Stella de Oro daylily. You might notice in some places it is spelled Stella d'Oro. So many of the dormant cultivars have such gorgeous coloring that I am going to plant a few this year and see how they do. Like some fruit trees, various dormant daylilies might require more cold weather to thrive than our climate provides. Learning which ones do well here means trial and error unless you know someone who is already successfully growing dormants.

Daylilies are either diploids or tetraploids. Diploids have 22 chromosomes, while tetraploids have 44. According to the authors of "The Color Encyclopedia of Daylilies," John L. Petit and John P. Peat, the treatment of diploids with the chemical colchicine began in 1960. This treatment resulted in tetraploid plants having 44 chromosomes rather than the usual 22. The results were vigorous plants with larger flowers and more intense coloring. The shorthand word for tetraploid is "tets," which you will see quite often when reading daylily material. Also, an asterisk (*) behind or before a daylily name will be an indication that the plant is a tetraploid. No asterisk indicates a diploid.

Although daylilies have been known for their sturdiness and pest resistance through the years, they are not immune to disease, the newest being daylily rust which was apparently imported into the U.S. from China and the surrounding area. If you want to learn more about rust, crown rot, leaf streak, and others, I recommend that you plug into the Hemerocallis Society site on your computer. If you then click on "Daylily Dictionary" and "Go to Terms" page, it will take you to photographs and articles on diseases of daylilies. For insect control, it is recommended to never use kelthane on your daylilies, as it is harmful to them.

We are so fortunate to be able to garden this early in Victoria. A few years ago, a good friend of mine in upstate New York was bitten by the daylily bug and has planted dozens of them. At the moment, she can hardly wait for the snow to melt so that she can get out to garden. The daylily photos with this article are from her garden. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS BY LISA HAVENS Daylilies can be found growing in gardens across the U.S. March and October are prime daylily planting times in our area. These deep red Ezekial, orange Mauna Loa and pink Siloam Double Classic cultivars were planted much later in the year in Lisa Havens' garden, a friend of master gardener Doris Martinak, in Hudson Falls, N.Y


The photo of the unplanted area in the new section of the Victoria Educational Gardens was taken this January while we were having quite a bit of rain. The area between the sidewalk and the fence will be the daylily garden. The Master Gardener Association daylily committee has been working on selections for the area and is eagerly looking forward to planting and the forthcoming blooming season. It will take a few years to become a mature daylily garden but we are very excited about it. Like other areas of the garden, there will be free educational material on hand regarding daylilies.

The Victoria Public Library has several books about daylilies that can be checked out - and don't forget about interlibrary loan. Two books that I enjoy are "The Color Encyclopedia of Daylilies" by Ted L. Petit and John P. Peat and "Hemerocallis, The Daylily" by R. W. Munson Jr.

"An Illustrated Guide to Daylilies," a publication of The American Hemerocallis Society Inc., is excellent. All three have beautiful photographs and information on all facets of growing daylilies. Be careful, though, the daylily bug might bite you if it hasn't already done so.