The daylily, or (Latin) Hemerocallis is an incredibly versatile flower that has no problem living up to its reputation as the perfect perennial. Most are hardy to zone 3 – we are zone 5. They do not attract insects and in our climate they are pretty much disease resistant. The lily beetle you may have heard about is attracted to the bulb type lilies (Lilium)– not daylilies. They will grow quite happily in most soil types and once settled in are drought resistant. In the first year, water them deeply once a week after planting or transplanting if there is no rain. When planting them it helps to add compost to your soil to give them a better start. You should also spread their roots in the hole.
You can use them in the landscape in a border, edging, specimen plant and even try them in containers. Other than the old fashion ditch daylily’ Fulva’, hybrids form a clump. They only need dividing every 8-10 years or if they have outgrown their spot. Dividing and planting can be done anytime between late spring and early fall. August usually is not suggested as the weather is too hot and dry. Early spring they are a bit too brittle. They grow in full sun and can even tolerate part shade with a minimum of 6 hours of sun. So feel free to add them to gardens along the east with your Hosta. The foliage is also neat and attractive. ‘Mini Pearl’ has shinier leaves and blooms look like they are diamond dusted! Daylilies come in every height from 10 inches to 4 feet, with bloom diameter from 1.5 inches across to 12 inches +. The blooms also come in various other forms like doubles, spiders and even with fragrance. ‘Double Dream’, ‘Citrina’ and ‘Vanilla Fluff’ as well as lots of others have a lovely smelling flowers.
Like most I started with Stella d’oro. The bloom period for daylilies is from extra early to late with some combo’s in between. Stella d’oro is from Mid May until late September/October depending on our season. Hybridizers are working on longer bloom times but to date Stella’s ‘wannabees’ are not even close. If you would like constant blooming daylilies mix them up. Look for selections crossing in all bloom periods and you can have them blooming all the time. Rebloom is also another detail to keep in mind. This means more than one set of bloom scapes. They bloom right after each other or with a break in between. Some of my favourite rebloomers would be ‘Little Wine Cup’, ‘Barbary Corsair’ and ‘Green Flutter’. That is why they are my favourite perennial and why my personal collection has now 400+ varieties including the one named after ‘Peterborough’ last year.
Names are given to each individual variety by the grower that bred them. For instance ‘Siloam….’ Daylilies were all bred by Pauline Henry who lives in Siloam Arkansas. So, I plan on naming any of my ‘future babies’ – ‘Donwood…..’? The American Hemerocallis Society are the gurus that track all the introductions for the world of Daylilies. I am honoured to have my gardens officially listed by AHS for public viewing as a ‘Daylily Display Garden’ in Canada. Who would of thought that there have been 60,000+ different varieties of daylilies registered, named and introduced over the last 100 + years.
Some of my preferred choices are; Daring Dilemma, Mardi Gras Parade, Strutter’s Ball, Spider Miracle, Custard Candy, Strawberry Candy and Siloam Ury Winniford. The only colour missing from the pallet is true blue and pure white. So, with that in mind you have choice of almost every colour and combination in the rainbow. With the awesome solid colours to choose from, edges, eyes, watermarks and other attributes it almost goes unnoticed. So the sky is the limit! Have fun and happy gardening – it's not too late to add to your gardens and the peak time for bloom to see what varieties are available to you is the next few weeks.
Dawn Tack of Gardens Plus is a member of the Peterborough Horticultural Society. Gardens Plus is in Donwood at 136 County Rd #4.