All About Daylilies

The Basics

the Daylily... a perfect perennial!

The daylily is a reliable, lovely blooming perennial capable of holding its own in any landscape design and is now one of the most popular choices. The botanical name is Hemerocallis derived from two Greek words meaning "beauty" and "day" - thus the common name of daylily. The daylily can be characterized as a clump-forming perennial with four distinct growing parts which consist of the roots, the crown, the foliage, and the scape. Each daylily plant puts up scapes that have several buds and each bud gives one day of loveliness, fragrance, color, and grace thereby providing several weeks of garden beauty throughout the bloom season. The daylily is available in wide ranges of color, size bloom, height, form, and patterns priced as low as a few dollars per plant up to hundreds of dollars per plant depending on its availability. Performance is as widely varied from scapes with only a few buds to scapes with high bud counts in excess of 60 per scape! Where older varieties might only put up a few scapes per season, now newer established varieties may put up dozens and repeatedly throughout the season - all will vary somewhat depending on basic variables. There are literally hundreds of varieties available today in all size blooms, scape heights, colors, habits & bloom time, forms, and patterns.

Habit

When I first became interested in daylilies I distinctly remember noting that they were available as "evergreen" which to me meant the foliage would remain nice and green during winter. Well, when selecting my very first order of daylilies, I naturally chose those daylilies that were going to stay nice and green during winter here in Indiana. Guess what? ..they don't stay green here in Indiana and some, NOT all, but some can, in fact, be somewhat tender in this climate. However, as many things in life do, this error on my part turned out to be a plus as it allowed me the opportunity of growing several evergreens and therefore learning first hand the difference. It also gave me a basis for my hybridizing program that included a few of these evergreens that do well in a cold climate - a definite plus if you are breeding for all-around good performance.

I have found there to be many definitions of the daylily plant habit and want to emphasize the following is my definition as noted by me in my Indiana garden. All of my cultivar daylilies have markers which give their registered details and I often note that the plant habit in my garden does not necessarily coincide with the registered habit. This tells me that daylily plant habits can and will vary according to the zone or climate in which they are being grown. If you are unsure about how a specific habit will behave in your zone, check with the hybridizer, the grower, or find out if it is grown in your area.
DORMANT - All foliage will completely turn yellow and disappear during winter
SEMI-EVERGREEN - All foliage will completely turn yellow however there will remain just a tiny bit of green near the center of the daylily
EVERGREEN - Most all of the foliage will turn yellow and, as with the semi-evergreens, just a little bit of green will be seen in the center

Color

SELF- The flower segments, petals and sepals, are the same color
BLEND - flower segments are a blending of two or more colors
POLYCHROME - Segments are a blend of three or more colors
BITONE - The petals are darker than the sepals but the same color
REVERSE BITONE - The sepals are darker than petals but same shade
BICOLOR - The petals and sepals are a totally different color - petals being the darker color
REVERSE BICOLOR - The petals and sepals are a totally different color - sepals being the darker color

Pattern

EYE or EYEZONE - A distinguishing pattern on many daylilies which is a ring of a different or darker color at the juncture of the segments at the throat and is present on both the petals and sepals
BAND - The same distinguishing eye pattern but only on the petals
HALO - The eye or band is a lighter shade than the segments
MIDRIB - As the daylily flower develops, each petal may be marked down the middle by a line of a contrasting color - can be either raised or level with surface
EDGE or PICOTEE - The segment edges are either lighter, darker or contrasting color to the segments
THROAT - Regardless of the principal color, daylilies will have a contrasting throat color of any shade of melon, orange, yellow, or green
DIAMOND DUSTING - Some daylilies have a special color quality known as diamond dusting which appears as a silver or gold sparkle over the bloom

Form

CIRCULAR - Flower appears round and segments overlap
TRIANGULAR - The petals form a triangle with sepals re-curved
STAR - The segments tend to be long & pointed with space between each segment appearing as a 3 or 6 pointed star
TRUMPET - The form resembles a true lily where the segments rise from the throat in an upward pattern with a little flare
SPIDER - Segment placement may be irregular, widely spaced or floppy. The segments are long and narrow and can curve and twist. To be classed as a true Spider the ratio must be 5" petal length to 1" petal width
FLAT - the bloom is perfectly flat except for the throat
RECURVED - The edges of the segments curve under
DOUBLE - Any daylily with more than six segments which can be layer on layer doubling or peony-type doubling
POLYTEPAL - This form is defined as having extra whole tepals (sepals & petals) in the center of the normal three sepals and three petals
LARGE FLOWERED - Bloom diameter is 4 1/2" or greater
SMALL FLOWERED - Bloom diameter is between 3" and 4 1/2"
MINIATURE - Bloom diameter is 3" or less
DWARF - The term dwarf refers to the scape height - not the bloom diameter - and is usually less than 12"

Tetraploid vs Diploid

Diploid daylilies have 22 chromosomes with two sets of chromosomes in each cell. Tetraploid daylilies have 44 chromosomes with four sets of chromosomes in each cell. The larger cells of tetraploids result in bigger leaves, flowers, and other plant parts. An important advantage of tetraploids is the additional breeding possibilities brought about by the increased number of chromosomes. Both are equallty lovely and delightful to grow.


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Louise & Bobby James
Lbjames@lightbound.com
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