Daylilies forum: Partial Shade vs. Full Sun?

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Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
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beckygardener
May 4, 2014 7:01 AM CST
I am always looking at photos of how others are growing their daylilies. I've noticed that some gardeners grow them in all-day full sun, while others have theirs growing in a location where their daylilies do get some partial shade AND sun during the day.

This year I have mine growing in various places and some are in partial shade due to the growth of nearby trees.

It gets near 100 degrees here in the heat of the summer. What do many of you do that have those kind of temps? Do you just let them grow in full sun, provide some partial shade all day (like a shade cloth or grown near a shade providing tree or other structure), or do you grow them in an area of your yard that gets partial shade during some part of the day?

I always thought daylilies needed all-day full sun. But looking at other gardener's photos, I am now wondering.....
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
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Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
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chalyse
May 4, 2014 7:24 AM CST
Becky, I am in the same 100-degrees+ summer as you and I try to grow mine with some kind of shade to shelter them from "too much" sun! Some can hide from the worst heat and sun by the side of our shed, some get a bit of help from some 5-foot shrubs, many are kept on or in the shade provided by a raised porch with lattice panels, and just as many are grown under deep shade trees.

The ones that grow in a larger garden plot that just gets no shade whatsoever usually go right into dormancy come July 1, and by the end of summer (about Sept-Oct) when I dig to rescue and/or divide, the roots and fans have pretty much reverted to seedling size and tenderness. Just too much sun and heat.

I am looking at ways to get some adjustable shadecloth over those that are out in the middle of unprotected garden - maybe run clothesline between the two ends of it (attach to fence on one side, shed on the other) with eyehooks to allow the cloth to be retracted. Even better, there are two-string retractable clotheslines that can afix to one structure and be pulled over (or retracted) that I could afix the cloth to (tuck-away shadecloth mechanism). I'd love to make some kind of awning that would be easier to just lean out and push back in, but so far have not figured out a way that would work in that particular garden area.

This year I am also trying to keep up with early watering, really soaking the unprotected beds, but even now they are drying out very quickly. I know it might also help to put those water-absorbing crystals under the roots, but I really want to avoid synthetic, artificial or assistive materials in the garden soil.

Will be interested in hearing how others achieve some protection for their high-heat/sun daylilies ... in our zones, the accepted wisdom about sun-loving daylilies can leave us with melting, bleeding, wilting, bleached out flowers that stop appearing as soon as the temperatures rise. What is more distressing is to see how battered the roots and fans get after the prolonged exposures.

On the other hand, I do now rotate my "best" daylilies to the "heat furnace" section of the garden to track their performance. Slowly but surely I am finding which of my best daylilies also have some real fiber to them - and it is sometimes quite a surprise which ones really benefit a garden the most. Green Grin!
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

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Name: Pat
Near McIntosh, Florida (Zone 9a)
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Xenacrockett
May 4, 2014 8:00 AM CST
Sun/heat can be serious here in Florida.
Mine get an afternoon break when sunshine is broken by large oak trees.
They are growing and blooming fine imo.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
May 4, 2014 8:37 AM CST
Even with heavy pruning, as high as I can reach with my extendable pruning saw (roughly 18') I still am gradually getting more and more shade. My plants bloom much better in full sun, but I have fewer and fewer plants that actually get all day full sun. Still most of them that get some shade during the day seem do do great, those daylilies that get almost no direct sun, never bloom like I would love for them to to.
chalyse, was looking for older daylilies that did not multiply so rapidly, for me those planted in shade are very slow to multiply, those in full sun multiply much faster.
So I think a lot of the pictures you see showing daylilies planted in shade are often just because sunnier locations are not available, but in severe heat it is probably by choice.
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
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Polymerous
May 4, 2014 12:32 PM CST
We don't regularly get heat that high; our average summer daytime temp is more like mid 80s, but we do get some hotter days (high 80s to mid 90s, and infrequently into the high 90s). So I don't have to shade plants, but as my property is full of oaks (and other trees), partial shade for my daylilies is mostly unavoidable. (There are a couple of planting beds that may get full sun (or close to it), but the daylilies there have to share the sun with other ornamental plants.)

My only comment on partial shade is that while the daylilies grow, and bloom, they may not rebloom. ('Green Dolphin Street' regularly rebloomed for me at our old house, where it pretty much got full sun. It does not do so in the partial shade bed at my current home.) I suspect that may depend on the individual cultivar, though.

(For what it is worth, I also have some suspicions that shade may factor into the percentage of polymerous flowers a daylily has - though in the particular case that follows, water may also play a role. I had one seedling which in its original raised bed ran about 25% polymerous. I dug out that bed entirely (I am using it for veggies now (it was never sprayed with fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides as I don't do those)) and potted the seedling. The pot possibly (it is hard to quantify) gets a bit less sun than the bed does - and that seedling, after the first year in the pot, has not produced another poly bloom. Sad )
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
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beckygardener
May 4, 2014 7:39 PM CST
I appreciate the feedback from those who replied! I have quite a few daylilies. Many are in full all-day sun. But I have two new raised beds that are only getting direct sun for a few hours a day. The rest of the day they are in shade. Ironically, they are producing scapes right now. I don't get blooms here until the middle to end of May. I think most of my daylilies are mid-season bloomers. Only a few are early. None are late season bloomers (unfortunately). I will say that the ones in partial shade look healthier. I do think all-day sun does stress them, but they do survive and grow additional fans.

Tina - I also have noticed some of mine go into dormancy earlier than I was expecting. But if they are dormant daylilies, they typically don't last more than 2 years in my garden anyway. True dormant daylilies don't do well here in central Florida.

Pat - Mine also do fine in full sun. But the blooms do fade and they do look stressed on those hot days. I have to dilute the liquid fertilizer more than the manufacturer says because it will stress and burn them otherwise during the hottest days. The shaded daylilies look happier!

I never considered that shaded daylilies might not rebloom. Thanks for that tip, Polymerous! Also interesting thoughts you have about polymerous flowers in full sun vs. shade.

I know daylilies prefer full sun for most of the day. What is the minimum required? 4 hours, 6 hours, or more?
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
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chalyse
May 4, 2014 7:50 PM CST
I have to agree my shaded daylilies seem healthiest ... I almost never have to tend to them, and even the weeds are drastically fewer. Almost all of mine are Evergreens and Semi-Evergreens, as dormants have not done well with me. What I mean is that the E/SE's go into a heat-induced dormancy, not necessarily dying back, but just no blooms at all. And, the size of the fans and roots shrinks back to a kind of miniature size. Its taking me a year of potting them up and protecting them under the porch to get them back to blooming size. On reblooming, I haven't had any trouble with my deep-shaded cultivars. Dixie Land Band and Happy Hooligan bloomed almost continuously in the deep shade, less so in the full sun. Just different gardens doing their own thing, I guess.
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

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Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
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beckygardener
May 4, 2014 8:10 PM CST
Tina - I hadn't thought about it until you mentioned it, but I, too, see fewer weeds growing in the shade beds. I guess I will find out this year how the shaded daylilies will do. I've never grown daylilies in shade until this year. If they do well, I might have to relocate some of my full sun daylilies. I also know that making sure they get plenty of water during the hottest days can make a big difference. But that blazing hot sun just wilts them during the summer. Right now we are still having cooler nights in the high 60's and low 70's, so mine are doing well whether they are in sun or not. But in another month, that all changes when the night temps start climbing. We also have the rainy season, when everything in my yard looks good. The worst heat comes in late July-Sept here.

Something else I am noticing ....

I don't treat my daylilies for rust or other diseases because I am an organic gardener. (I garden for butterflies and other wildlife.) I am not noticing much rust fungus on the shaded daylilies at all. But I am certainly noticing rust on the full sun daylilies. I have some daylilies that seem to be resistant to rust outbreaks, but in the shade garden, I've only seen a couple of daylilies showing any signs of rust at all and the majority of those daylilies had rust on them last year when they were in full sun (before I moved them to these new raised beds in shade). So far, they actually seem to be more disease and fungus resistant in the shade. I don't know if that will change as the season progresses or not. I do know though that healthy plants are able to resist disease more than stressed plants for obvious reasons. Maybe shade isn't so bad for them afterall?
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
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chalyse
May 4, 2014 8:41 PM CST
I am appreciating my shade garden more and more, also, especially for the daylilies. Our summer temps sound almost identical, and now that you mention it, the snapdragons that I have in full sun get rust each summer but I've never seen any in the shaded garden. Ditto for my experience with fuchsia gall mite - in fact, nearly all the plant maladies that I work with each summer in full sun have never shown up in the deep shade garden. The only reversal of that is crown rot where I have lost one fan in the shade garden and two on the shaded porch. Geez I'm glad we had this conversation! I suppose it could all be coincidence but for now I'm thinking I just need to hold off from the pre- and early-spring watering I was doing in the shade garden and all will be good. I'm going to keep a more watchful eye this year too, to see if those trends in my own gardens continues. Thumbs up
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

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Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
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Gleni
May 4, 2014 8:53 PM CST
Becky, my shaded ones nether have as many fans nor appear as tall as full sun ones. However, bloom size is okay. Most of the shaded ones here rebloom and are doing so now.

I have noticed elsewhere that for some cultivars the recommendation is to grow them in the shade to get the proper colour. I cannot lay my hands on this advice at the moment to show here.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
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beckygardener
May 5, 2014 7:19 PM CST
Tina - Yes, I agree ... over-watering them could cause crown rot. I am wondering how they may do during the rainy season in the shade this year. Hopefully I won't lose any to crown rot.

Glen - Thanks for the observations of growth in your shade garden. I am okay if they don't produce as many fans as they would in full sun or get as tall. I have a lot of them crammed together in the different raised garden beds and it is a chore to divide them. I'd love not to have to divide them every other year here.

What I hope for are nice, colorful blooms, healthy fans, and hopefully reblooming daylilies. This will be a good experiment. I think my main concern is just being careful about the watering. Don't want to kill them from crown rot.

I am also looking to see which ones are showing a resistance to rust. Eventually I hope to "weed" out the rust bucket plants and just grow and hybridize from the resistant daylilies. I love hybridizing to see what I can produce by mixing up the gene pool ... with a purpose. Whistling Thumbs up
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
May 5, 2014 8:03 PM CST
beckygardener,
Hurry up with that rust resistant breeding program, no sign of rust so far this year and with the winter we had I am still surprised, even though I was hoping for a year like this. Hoping it continues, but when we go back to having normal winters that have no chance of killing the rust, it would be nice to have all very rust resistant plants.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
May 5, 2014 9:07 PM CST
Seedfork - I agree with you! I would love to have nice foliage on ALL my daylilies!

Rust does not die here unfortunately. Living in central Florida, we rarely get freezing temps that would last long enough to completely kill the rust spores. But I do indeed have some daylilies that exhibit very little rust throughout the growing season. Even growing right next to a rust host daylily. The exposure is there, but some of mine definitely appear to be resistant. One thing I've heard though is that I may have a particular strain of rust. Some of my plants may be resistant to whatever strain I have, but if exposure to another strain of rust appears, they may not be resistant to that strain. Whether that is true or not, I don't know at this time. But I will continue to try to breed rust-resistant plants together to hopefully increase the rust resistance in seedling hybrids. Rust fungus seems to love my yard, because I have other plants that also get rust. Different strain of rust depending on the plant species, but rust shows up all the time on numerous plant species! One of the pitfalls of living in what some folks might consider "paradise" ... there are always challenges no matter where you live and what your climate is like! But there is always advantages, too! Smiling
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
Bearded Dragon young male
Region: Australia Annuals Canning and food preservation Herbs Tropicals Foliage Fan
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Gleni
May 5, 2014 10:18 PM CST
Same here Becky. Rust never sleeps. That group of fungi seem to have the world at their feet. I have it across several unrelated plant groups.
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
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Polymerous
May 8, 2014 10:44 AM CST
I thought that there was only one strain of daylily rust in the US? Confused

Fascinating thread - that your daylilies do better in the shade in your gardens, and that you get rebloom.

We are going to convert a couple small patches of lawn area into shade (or semi-shade) garden plantings. (The grass dies in the deeper shade every winter, the invading rabbits have now established themselves here and eat what is left of the grass, our dog (whom we adopted a year ago) digs up the rest as he races over what is left of the turf...) I was going to populate them with shade plants and maybe one shade tolerant rose, but now I am wondering if I should trial a daylily or two in there (in the not-so-deeply shaded parts).
The current avatar image is that of a volunteer daylily seedling showing cristation.
Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
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chalyse
May 8, 2014 11:35 AM CST
There are multiple strains of rust in the US. And, there are also different rust organisms that impact other plants (some of my snapdragons get rust, for example, but being another type of rust, it does not cause rust on my daylilies).

The daylilies we have here in our deep-shade garden do better for dark-color presentation (no fading or bleaching), much lower watering needs overall, larger bloom size than their full-sun twins, and less impact by summer heat-dormancy. Since they don't get sent into the same level of heat-dormancy at the 90-100+ temp levels (shade seems to reduce their heat load by about 20 degrees) they have indeed produced re-bloom and continuous rebloom here, where expected from a give cultivar, even though their full-sun twins have shut down for the season.

They have done about the same for number of blooms, but can have the same problems (though no worse, in my experience) as full-sun fans with scape strength, though some do seem to have taller scapes overall, holding the flowers higher than full-sun fans, and longer leaves. I haven't noticed any difference in the fertility of pollen or pods.

We also gave up on patches of lawn under trees that always died back, stayed bare, or were always overrun with weed-grasses. I was really concerned that the weeds would remain, but after digging up just 6 inches to convert the area to flower-bed, only a few shallow-root weeds have appeared after more than a year.

I think its definitely worth trying out a fan or two, and you can always start out with fans that are "extras" from existing clumps, if you want. Here is today's second bloom from Dizzy Miss Lizzie in my deep-shade daylily patch, started from one gifted new fan (so grateful!) planted in November 2013:

Thumb of 2014-05-08/chalyse/f343bb

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

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Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
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Natalie
May 8, 2014 2:09 PM CST
Dizzy Miss Lizzie makes me dizzy with joy! I think that is one of the prettiest daylilies ever!

I may have missed this in the posts above, so forgive me if I'm repeating what someone else said. I found that hybridizing in a bed that gets morning shade has given me a much better chance of crosses taking. In full sun, I had very little luck. Not no luck, but nothing like I did when the flowers were shaded. My best luck was with plants that didn't get any sun until afternoon, and then they were shaded again until early evening. They always looked so much better than the full sun plants, as well, but I did notice that they didn't multiply as fast. It was an okay trade-off for me though, since I mainly wanted seeds!
Natalie
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Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
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Hemlady
May 8, 2014 2:15 PM CST
I do think shade is much better for hybridizing. That's why in Florida they put shade cloths over their beds.
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Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
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chalyse
May 8, 2014 2:18 PM CST
Very true, in terms of how likely a scape is to set pods as the temperature reaches about 90 or above. Thumbs up So much so that I am still working on how to provide complementary shade covering in my "heat blast" garden.
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

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Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
May 9, 2014 6:52 AM CST
Dan Hanson said in one of his videos that only his seedlings get shade, once they are mature they have to be able to withstand the elements on their own, part of his tough love method of growing "garden hardy" daylilies, that is my term not his, but you get the point. So for people needing heat tolerant daylilies that might be something to keep in mind as he said in the video, are you going to be growing your daylilies under shade cloth?

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