Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Perennials
All-American Daylilies (page 3 of 4)
by Jack Ruttle
How to Use Daylilies
Daylilies grow well at the edges of ponds and streams.
Daylilies are stalwarts of the perennial border, but they shine in other spots, too. Vigorous daylilies make weed- and erosion-proof ground covers. Plant them on banks and roadsides or along waterways. Use dwarf daylilies in rock gardens, in containers, or as edging for flower beds.
When planting several daylily varieties, arrange drifts of a single variety. A random mix almost always looks spotty from spring through fall. Foliage varies tremendously among cultivars. So does bloom time and the height of the flower stalks. Group at least three clumps of one variety together and you'll get both a more natural look and a stronger impact at showtime.
Planting and Care
Daylilies grow best in full sun, ideally 6 hours or more daily. However, in hot and dry climates, they benefit from some afternoon shade, as well as irrigation during bloom. Also, many of the deep reds and the paler shades hold their colors better in partial shade. In any zone, daylilies will perform reasonably well with half a day's shade -- they just won't bloom as vigorously.
Daylilies grow well in a wide range of soils. You can plant daylilies successfully almost any time the ground can be worked. The ideal time to transplant and divide is in spring as the shoots begin to emerge, or immediately after bloom. In zones 9 and 10, plant in early spring (February or March) or fall; avoid planting in midsummer. Likewise in the Southeast, don't plant during midsummer because the high temperatures and humidity may cause new plants to rot. When fall-planting in cold regions move the plants at least a month before hard frosts to allow new roots time to take hold against frost heaving.
Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart. Plant at the same height plants grew previously (the white at the base of the foliage) or slightly higher to allow for settling. Firm soil, then water.
Some cultivars can grow for 20 years without requiring division, but others may need division every second or third season. You'll know it's time when you notice flower production declining.
Many daylily varieties perform well over five hardiness zones. But a variety clearly superior in Georgia may be only average in San Diego. That's why it makes sense to buy from local daylily specialists or from mail-order specialists in your hardiness zone. For information on daylily nurseries, contact the American Hemerocallis Society (Pat Mercer, AHS Executive Secretary, Box 10, Dexter, Georgia 31019). It welcomes beginners and will send a free membership information packet that includes a source list with 118 nurseries, plus information about its 15 regional groups and 133 member display gardens, many of which have daylilies for sale. Membership is $18 annually and includes the quarterly Daylily Journal.