All About Daylilies

            From frequently asked questions...

A good part of the fun of gardening is sharing - sharing perennials, ideas, information, fun, and the list just keeps on going... As a daylily display garden, I like to share some of the knowledge that I have accumulated about daylilies but seldom have the time to spend conversing with garden visitors. In order to share some of these valuable tidbits, I devised a series of garden "notes" that, if you visit my gardens, you will see placed pleasantly throughout.
(More information about my unique "garden signs" can be found in the site Gift Shop.)

When to plant...
The ONLY rule for transplanting daylilies - either as a clump in dirt or bare rooted - is: Daylilies MUST HAVE 6 WEEKS to establish their root system in a new location BEFORE the ground freezes.(not hard frost, but freeze)

Bloom Time...
EE: Extra Early (Early to Mid May)
E: Early Season (Late May to Early June)
EM: Early Mid Season (Mid to End of June)
M: Mid Season (Peak Bloom Here Early July)
ML: Mid Late Season (Mid to End of July)
L: Late Season (End of July to Mid Aug)
VL: Very Late (Late August Till Frost)
(Based on observations here in zone 5 - Central Indiana)

Daylilies come in all colors of the rainbow EXCEPT, to date, there is no pure white and no true blue. Needless to say, hybridizers are avidly working toward that goal.

Is it necessary to "dead-head" (cutting off spent blooms)? Unlike most prennials & annuals, dead-heading does NOT promote more daylily blooms and it is NOT necessary to remove the completed blooms or scapes. It is purely a matter of choice with daylilies.

Daylily Foliage Habit -
Dormant: Foliage dies back completely in winter months
Semi-evergreen: Foliage is between dormant & evergreen - not dying back completely
Evergreen: Foliage stays somewhat green through winter

Lining Out...
What is "LINING-OUT"? This is a term used to refer to dividing and planting a division of anything. Daylily hybridizers will "line-out" their specified daylilies after bloom season so instead of having 1 division of something, there will be several.

Daylily PRICES... Daylilies are priced according to their availability to the market. Newly registered daylilies are not as plentiful as older varieties thus much more expensive. As a rule, the price goes down each season.

Many daylilies are registered as rebloomers which means they put up new scapes after the first scapes of the season have bloomed. Rebloom here in central Indiana depends on many variables - the most reliable method to know if a daylily will rebloom is to grow it and see.
(Based on observations here in zone 5 - Central Indiana)

Sun or Shade...
For best performance, daylilies should have at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. They will grow in shade but don't perform as well - smaller increase, fewer scapes & buds, etc.

Diploid or Tetraploid...
Tetra what??? Diploid daylilies have 22 chromosomes with two sets in each cell. Tetraploid daylilies have 44 chromosomes with four sets in each cell. Normally, the larger cells of tetraploids result in bigger & brighter everything. An important advantage of tetraploids is the additional breeding possibilities due to the increased number of chromosomes.

The Care and Planting of Daylilies...
Daylilies are, perhaps, one of the easiest perennials to grow. They are not "picky" as to soil as long as it drains well. They like lots of water and at least six hours of full sun per day for ultimate results. Daylilies should be planted at least 12" to 15" apart to allow for yearly increase. Daylily foliage is a "fan" type spike and referred to as fans. From these daylily fans come the "scapes" which have several "buds" and each one of these buds is a bloom that will be open for one day only - thus the common name of "daylily".

As a general rule, a double fan will put up one scape. Some daylilies, depending on the climate, are called "rebloomers" which simply means that once the first flush of scapes are complete, a new set will form providing yet another show of bloom to extend the bloom season. The number of buds is referred to as the "bud count". The season of bloom show will depend on the number of scapes put up and the number of buds per scape. When a scape has finished blooming, the completed scape will turn brown and can be cut off if desired. Sometimes, a bloom will self pollinate and a seed pod will form on the completed scape. I remove the pods as the daylily's strength will focus on the formation and maturing of the seeds in the pod and not the increase of the plant itself. At the end of the season, when the foliage begins to turn yellow or brown, I like to cut back the foliage to 5" to 6" however this is not necessary, only a personal preference.

Planting Bare-Rooted daylilies...
Dig a shallow hole, approximately 2" to 3" deep, the diameter of the roots fanned out in a circle. Mound up a slight hill in the middle of the circle. Place the crown or center of the root system on this slight hill and fan out the roots within the circle. DO NOT plant too deeply - the crown or center of the root system should be at ground level. Water at this point. Fill the hole and press down firmly to eliminate any air pockets. I like to CAREFULLY use my toe to press around the diameter of the daylily to be sure there are no air pockets and this also creates a slight trench to help hold water. Water once again and if desired, cover with mulch.

Dividing a Daylily Clump...
Cut back the foliage to 5" to 6" which allows the plant to send its energy to the root system, not the foliage. Remove the clump and place in water to soak off the soil. Spraying with a power hose will hasten cleaning and not harm the root system. When the soil is removed, you can easily see the root system. Gently work loose the fans in two to three fan groups. Sometimes a root system is too tight and working the fans loose is not possible so in this situation, simply use a knife to cut down the middle, then cut each half in half, etc. Whenever possible, I prefer to work the fans loose.

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Shelbyville, Indiana 46176
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