For years, all I did was water my lilies and mulch so you can imagine my delight when I read from a well known Daylily gardener that water is the most important element that they need.
He said that people touring his gardens wanted to know what he fertilized them with because he had so many beautiful blooms. When he said that they had had an unusually wet spring and had only used a regular fertilizer once, I just cheered.
It only confirmed my suspicion that this flower would always have a place in my heart.
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Brief History of Daylilies: Where did Daylilies Come From?
Where did Daylilies come from? There appears to be several lines of thought about this. Some believe that they came from China: others from other parts of the Orient. The Daylily has been a major plant in China since the first days of ancient Chinese culture. There is something unique about the Daylily as it seems to grow in all kinds of soil or weather. The Chinese gave the plant as a gift to the grieving and melancholy. Since it is so adaptable, it rewards all who provide even the most minuscule care. There is no other plant that lifts your spirits with so little care.
The first written record about the Daylily is about 2697 B.C. when Emperor Huan Ti arranged for a Materia Medica to be written for him by Chi Pai. Daylilies were used as food at that time. They were thought to benefit the mind and strengthen willpower. The plants grew wild in the woods and were moved to the garden for use at the table.
There were also references in the canonical writings of Confucianism. These were done around 551-479 B.C. while Confucius could select the inclusions and edit the manuscript.
In Europe the history of the Daylily is difficult to trace because of the inaccuracies of various authors and translation problems. There are accounts that the Daylily was grown in the Mediterranean around the time of St. Paul. My sources say that this is incorrect and that the plant we know as Hemerocallis today was not introduced into the Mediterranean area before 1550 A.D.
There were three herbalists in Europe who were friends and thus gave observations to each other. There were Rembert Dodoens, Charles de I’Ecluse, both from Belgium, and Mathias de I’Obel from France.
References to the Daylily appeared in these European herbals of the 16th Century as Lilasphodelus, Liriosphodelus and Lilium non-bulbosum. Wouldn’t you think that they could find an easier way to say that a plant was a fibrous rooted plant? Lobel said that by 1576, two Daylilies had already been introduced into Europe, H. lilioasphodelus (H. flava) and H. fulva.
The actual routes taken when the traders brought the Daylilies to Europe were not known. But, there were several possible routes such as: the overland trade routes to Hungary taken by medieval Asian traders and settlers, routes taken by Chinese, Arabian and Phoenician traders to Venice, and the sea routes of the Portugese traders to Lisbon.
A listing in a local garden magazine told of a garden with 800 varieties of daylilies. There was no way I could stay at work and miss this garden tour.
4th of July always seems to me the beginning of the daylily season. It could be because the large garden full of daylilies we walk past on the way to the annual 4th of July parade are flowering. Or, because of the daylily garden open house listings in the July issue of the local garden magazine. All I know is that the daylilies are now blooming and the summer gardens are beautiful.
Recently, while no one was looking at work, I took a long lunch and visited a private garden that was open for the holiday weekend. Located on the outskirts of town, this garden boasts of having 800 varieties of daylilies. At the entrance of the property is a sign that reads Thin Wallet Ranch. Winding down the gravel driveway, visitors pass several groupings of mature Staghorn Sumac. Then, after going past dozens of mature shade trees, the property opens up revealing the house and gardens.
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There are daylilies everywhere! The homeowner is a member of a local daylily club and is truly passionate about the plants. Around the house and swimming pool are her newest favorites. Throughout the property, each grouping is labeled with the variety and flower colors. The description of the colors is helpful for the ones that aren’t blooming yet or have finished flowering. Daylilies are often described as falling into one of six flowering categories: Early, Early-Mid, Mid, Mid-Late, Late, Rebloomer.
The homeowner has daylilies planted in locations with the light ranging from full sun to part shade. As expected, the plants in the sunny locations have the most flowers.
Daylilies that fall from favor are transplanted to areas farther from the house. I didn’t venture down the valley to see the garden farthest from the house because large turkeys were in that area. Recently at the nursery a small hawk protecting its nest attacked me and I’m still a little afraid of winged creatures with sharp beaks!
These are a few of my favorites at the Thin Wallet Ranch:
- Ruby Spider deep red flowers with yellow throat.
- Party Queen ruffled apricot flowers.
- La Fence pale orange rose flowers with bright yellow center.
- Ed Brown pale peach flowers with gold edge.
- Sultan’s Ruby upward curving red flowers with yellow center.
- Bountiful Candy pale peach flowers with raspberry eye.
- Matt sulpher yellow flowers
- Primal Scream loud orange spider petal flowers with ruffled edges and yellow center.
- Twiggy orange thin spider petals with wine centers.
- Wind Frills pale purple ruffled flowers with yellow centers.
Caring for Daylilies
Preparing the Site
Dig the hole at least as large in circumference as the root spread. The plants appreciate a little soaking before you plant. The plants themselves should be clipped to one third their total height.
Clip off any dead or broken roots. Power any cuts with a fungicide such as benomyl. Use 1 1/2 teaspoon per quart of water. I have also used a dilute solution of bleach. Use one teaspoon per quart of water.
How much water to daylilies require? Although, the plants fleshy roots enable it to endure drought, they will produce more blooms with about an inch of water a week.
What does it mean one inch a week? It means if the soil is wet one inch beneath the surface, you have soaked them enough.
Some people like to stand and water the plants, but time is precious so a soaker hose is the least expensive method. Water thoroughly, then let them dry out between waterings.
You may fertilize at the beginning of the season and at the end. If your growing season is a long as some southern states, you may want to fertilize at the end of the bloom season , too.
The type of fertilizer depends on your pocketbook and the number of Daylilies that you have. When you only have a few Daylilies, the timed release fertilizers are great.
Daylilies are addictive (as you will find out) so granular fertilizer with a 12-24-12 ratio is the fastest way to do this twice a year job. Mushroom compost is also wonderful because it does double duty. It not too high in nitrogen and conditions the soil.
Finally, apply a mulch around the Daylilies, but leave a three to six inch circle around the plant to prevent diseases such as crown rot. A mulch keeps the soil cooler and retains water during the summer season. One warning is not to mulch before the soil has warmed up.
What about weeds? If you use mulch, there should not be many. There is a mixture that some Daylily growers use, which contains various nutrients plus an insecticide, called Hooker Formula.
This formula is usually applied to the soil in the spring. I have never used this because I like to use the mushroom compost. It is composted at very high temperatures, which kills the weed seeds that might be in it.
Daylily Bloom Times
Now that the peak bloom (translation: most of the bloom ) is gone, it may be the best time to look at how we class the bloom time of lilies.
When you look at the catalogues, they are listed as extra early, early, early middle, mid-season, and middle late, and late season. What does this mean to you? It depends on your climate. What may be early in Florida is not the same as early in Tennessee.
In May, I attended my first American Hemerocallis Society (AHS) conference. It was in Jacksonville, Florida and was wonderful.
The AHS people are very focused on my favorite flower and provide helpful tips, not to mention tours of all those daylily gardens! It was the middle of May when we went. One of the growers said that he had about 20-30% bloom.
There were still a lot of daylilies blooming so the first peak must have been astounding. They try to schedule the conferences when bloom is near or at its peak. It is one way of determining the bloom time in various parts of the country!
When do Daylilies Bloom?
Debbie, from Oakes Daylilies in Knoxville, Tennessee, was wonderful to provide the bloom time information shown below:
|Extra Early||Last of May|
|Early||Beginning of June|
|Early Mid||End of June|
|Early Mid-Season||End of June|
|Mid-Season||End of June – First of July|
|Late||End of July- Aug|
Ken Oakes provided his favorite extra early bloomers, which were Charles Johnson (Burgandy Red) and Sherry Harrison (Purple). His favorite late bloomers were Autumn Prince (Yellow) and of course their creation — Jen Melon.
As you have guessed by now, bloom time varies according to your climate. Check with the nurseries near you for your season’s bloom time.
Well, I promised a tour of a garden, but the folks that I wanted to interview were not available, so this week we are going to look at rebloomers and extended bloomers. Since most of the bloom is finished in this area except for the rebloomers, this topic is timely for the south. I know that there is still bloom in the northern areas from reading the Daylily Robin posts.
What is a Rebloomer?
Is a rebloomer classed as such because it has an extended bloom time or is it because it blooms intermittently throughout the season. After that full flush of bloom, it is a real let down to walk through the garden a see only the foliage (pretty as it is). Rebloom is what quite a few Daylily aficionados are interested in. There are many DayliIies listed as rebloomers, but do they really? To further confuse the issue, some catalogues list the extended bloomers as rebloomers. If we can’t have rebloom, what can we do?
Staggered Bloom Time
When I got my first Daylilies, they were through blooming by the middle of July. This was so disappointing. Planting Daylilies with staggered bloom or some rebloomers is one way of creating a longer bloom time. “The Better Homes and Gardens” magazine listed quite a few in their May, 1997 issue. They included those shown in the following table. Please note that your results could vary depending on your climate, soil, and plant cultivation. We will go into the early, midseason, late and later season bloom some other time.
|JEN MELON||Late bloomer. Big, bright golden blooms with ruffles. Blooms and reblooms until frost|
|STELLA DE ORO||Small bright gold blooms. Blooms from May until frost.|
|LULLABY BABY||Small flower of delicate pink with ruffled edges. Blooms from 50-120 days.|
|MAY MAY||Small flower of pale yellow. Blooms about 65-150 days|
|BLACK-EYED STELLA||Small flower with a “red” center. Blooms about 65-275 days.|
|LEPRECHAUN’S WEALTH||Small apricot flower. Blooms about 70-170 days.|
|FAIRYTALE PINK||Pale peachy 5 1/2″ bloom. Rebloomer.|
|PALACE GUARD||6″ bloom in middle of season. Bright red with gold around the edges. Rebloomer.|
|TENDER LOVE||Pale Peach with lemon yellow center. Blooms about 40-80 days.|
Rebloomers from Other Areas
The Daylily Robin subscribers were also helpful. They offered the some other plants that seem to have extended bloom or rebloom. Jean Bauden from Wisconsin says Camden Gold Dollar, Golden Scroll, Siloam Grace Stamile, Happy Returns, Quaking Aspen, Stella, May May, and Siloam June Bug do well for her. Robert Fitzpatrick from central Ohio says that Little Wine Cup, Little Spellbinder, May May, and Stella rebloom in his area.