Easy Rewarding Daylilies to Grow
The Big World of Daylilies
Daylilies are found under the botanical name hemerocallis. They are not considered true lilies which can be found under lilium. Originally from China, they are a rhizomatous flower found in all temperate parts of the world. You may ask "what does rhizomatous mean"? This is a bundle of fleshy roots that look like they are swelled up with water. They are elongated thick roots, swollen towards the middle and tapering towards the ends. The reason I am such a fan of daylilies is you can just never get bored with them. They are available from the deepest burgundy-red-black to the most delicate lilacs and whites. They come in double forms, spider forms, miniature forms, mixed forms and traditional forms. All have large strappy leaves which makes them look almost tropical but many are winter hardy and deceivingly sturdy flowers. They only bloom for one day but because there are so many flower buds on the scapes you can have continuous blooms from summer thru fall.
The Happiest Flower
Daylilies are for everyone. Many varieties bloom from spring to fall. The novice gardener will enjoy their success the first year. Experienced gardeners will soon find their favorites and discover new ones. There are currently about thirty thousand varieties of daylilies. These are adaptable flowers that are happy and pest free if given a place in the sun. But give them plenty of room because snails tend to take advantage of their good nature and eat holes in their pretty petals when they're crowded in with other foiliage. Their growth comes from a central crown which sends out shoots and roots in search of water and food. They are not grown from bulbs. Those are the asiatic lilies. Daylilies have a starchy swollen root system. The roots are elongated but swollen in the middle. The roots kind of look like miniature sweet potatoes or yams.
- Triangular - these look like little triangles, one petal layered on top of the other in a triangular pattern. They can have ruffled edges or smooth and can be one color, two or three similar colors in one, or bi colored with a darker accent color in the center of the flower.
- Spider - One of my favorite types. They look like they're a little on the wild side. They have elongated petals of about three inches or more that are very elegant in form in their simplicity. Some flowers are fifteen inches wide and these also come in solid and bi-colors and some tri-colors.
- Re-curved Spider Lilies - Elegant like the regular spider lilies but with an extra curve at the tip that curls backwards and under. Some of these spider lilies have purple stamens, rust colored, nutmeg and yellow stamens. Everything about these lilies is interesting. One spider lily has markings on it that look like three purple spiders on the petals. This one is called Winter Fantasy. Some have the pattern of a beautiful starburst.
- Open Form - these petals and sepals are not too thin like spiders and not too fat like the circular and triangular form lilies. "All My Kittens" is a beautiful open form that is deep pink towards the outer edges moving towards lighter pink then apricot towards the middle. But, the most interesting part of this flower may be the stamens that are deep apricot in color. This is a show stopping lily.
- Miniature Form - these lilies are a lovely change from their larger brothers and sisters. If you like simple beauty in a petite form, these may be for you. Instead of being two, three and sometimes four feet tall, these miniature forms are generally about eight to nine inches tall. There are also some forms considered to be small that can grow up to twenty inches tall which is still on the small side. They have a beautiful clumping form and are usually one solid color or one solid color with a little bit of accent color. The Stella D'Oro Purple is just such a variety.
- Circular Form - these form a rough circular shape and are similar to the triangle form because the petals are rounded on both of these types. These are available in smooth edged with no contrasting color or, picotee edged with a contrasting color. In fact, any of the forms can have a picotee edge. Many daylilies have unusual eye colors and watercolor marks.
- Re-curved Form - this simply means the flower petals and sepals curve outward from the center and then further under.
- Cascading form is another beautiful form where the petals and sepals drape down elegantly without looking the least bit defeated.
This is not a complete list of forms. There are also lilies with two or more different forms combined into one flower. I think there is a lily for every taste.
Growth Types - Dormant Versus Evergreen Daylily Types
Dormant daylily types go dormant in late fall and winter, meaning they go to sleep during the colder months. The leaves go brown and die back to the ground. Make no mistake, the plant is not dead, it is simply resting up for next year's season of show stopping colors and forms. These lilies generally do well in the colder zones down to zone 3. They do very well in the northeastern united states.
Evergreen daylilies do not die back to the ground when the seasons cool down, rather they keep trying to grow. These lilies have a longer bloom season and generally do better in higher number zones.
Nature and Chagall
Some daylilies look like they have been painted by an artist such as Marc Chagall. Glorious, pure colors are the hallmark of daylilies. Some lilies look like a silk painting and if you have ever painted on a piece of silk you will know what I mean. Some varieties look like they have been carefully design. I am more partial to the seemingly random patterns.
Nature is pretty brilliant herself. Many daylily varieties have complimentary colors. Look at all the varieties of daylilies with a green compliment. What is really extraordinary to me is that depending on the lightness or darkness of the red the complimentary green color w/not be garish but will be of the same warm or cool tone and light or dark value.
I think some of the most beautiful daylilies are the yellows and purples and in particular the cooler toned purples with compliments of yellow. Some to consider are:
- Lilting Belle Daylily - more pink than lavender but I have to include this. Graceful and subtle with long spider style sepals and petals. Not quite a spider. Don't miss this beauty. A star shaped lily with light yellow green in the throat moving towards the pinky-lavender.
- Out of the Blue Daylily - just three inches across, this is one beautiful daylily. The outer petals and sepals are peachy-pink then the middle splotch about two thirds down the petals is outlined in a thin line of fuschia. That's where the excitement begins. This thin line then moves to brilliant purple indigo blue then delights you with the light green throat.
My favorite daylilies tend to run to the less fancy and more straight forward. I am a fan of some of the spiders and some of what I call star form; semi-long sepals and petals with no fancy edges, just a flower doing what it does best, putting it's best face forward. One I haven't planted yet but intend to try is the Dallas Star. This is a true star shaped daylily with a chartreuse green center star with mid veins radiating from it. Beautiful, elegant smooth edged sepals and petals in light lavender surround the star shaped center with large blooms about six inches across and a height of about twenty eight inches.
One other favorite you may want to consider for your garden is the star shaped daylily with recurved sepals and petals called Puzzling Prize. This is a prodigious bloomer with true red blooms and a thin perfect edge of yellow. These blooms sparkle in the sun and there are many blooms on each scape so your garden will just shimmer with these flowers. The blooms are five inches across and these grow to a height of about twenty four inches. Happy gardening!
Care of Daylilies
Daylilies are an easy care flower, but that doesn't mean you can ignore them. They like fresh water and sun like many plants, but I would say the main thing with daylilies is they really like to spread out. With that said if your lilies have been blooming reliably and then seem to peter out, this is an indicator they will need to be divided. It's pretty easy. Just dig up the clump. When you look at the clump you will see a swollen root system. If you take a garden fork and pry the clump apart you will probably discover you have about five plants. Dig a new hole for each plant in an open sunny spot. Daylilies don't like to be crowded and do not like shade. The new spot should be about four inches deep and three to five inches wide. Spread the roots out in a fan formation, cover with garden earth and compost, water deeply but don't drown them. You are almost done.
So that this newly separated clump can direct it's energy towards establishing a strong root system, cut the leaves to about two inches high. Give the transplant about three weeks and you will see new shoots. Very rewarding and pretty easy.
Please note that some gardeners like to build a little mound of dirt for the roots to drape over which directs the roots outward and downward. In my personal experience, I have not found this necessary. Lilies find their way and develop strong roots on their own. This method won't hurt them, though.
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