Daylilies forum: Organic and Near-Organic Daylilies

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Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Jul 4, 2014 6:25 AM CST
A general list of sources for organically grown daylilies, and discussion of practices and materials that are eco-safe and bio-rational for use with daylilies, for increasing our enjoyment with daylilies, controlling daylily diseases, weeds and pests that are found with daylilies.

Jump-link for the list of Daylily Maladies, Soil Nutrient Impacts, and Organic Approaches to Prevention and Management

Not a place for reviewing or recommending particular daylily sellers! Opinions about sellers are what the Green Pages are for (http://garden.org/greenpages/ ). Thumbs up

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

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[Last edited by chalyse - Aug 6, 2014 9:16 AM (+)]
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Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Jul 4, 2014 6:32 AM CST
I have purchased daylilies in the past from places that grow them organically, though they may not all have gone through formal certification. I'm interested in learning more about how to grow daylilies in more eco-friendly ways, myself, even though I'm not what anyone would call an organic gardener (yet, anyway). But, I do like to support those who I think are doing the thoughtful and forward-thinking work of organic daylily growing.

Instead of making long lists here, I'll start by sharing some page links to lists that I'm working on to find daylily growers who are organic-certified, self-identified as organic-without-certification, or who are working toward becoming organic or certified - the official process can take three years at the very least. I'm only cataloging grower links, not making recommendations or reviews, although those are always welcome and found to be helpful by many when posted in the Green Pages).

Daylily Farms:

Click here for Organic Daylily Farms

For gardening products, I'll provide links to sources for identifying what is certified, and will mention what I consider to be "Near-Organic" (non-hazardous) as well. For products, I'll include my experiences and thoughts as I learn more about them, and I invite others to do so, also.

Lists of Organic Products and Substances, and Definitions for "Organic":

Click here for Organic Products, Substances, and Definitions
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

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[Last edited by chalyse - Aug 6, 2014 11:31 AM (+)]
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Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Jul 5, 2014 2:51 AM CST
I have a huge problem with aphids killing my seedlings, and even toppling some of my fully-grown fans. So, I started out by trying a product that I thought was near-organic (non-toxic and biodegradable) but that turned out to have properties that are not organic. Special thanks to Sooby for explaining how to distinguish differences between organic versus non-hazardous insecticides, and for pointing to readily available products that are fully organic (will be trying them next!). Thank You!

For aphid control, I first tried Dawn Ultra non-antibacterial 2x strength that I bought at the grocery store. I mixed 1.5 Tablespoons of the 2x-strength dishwashing liquid in a gallon of water and transferred it to a spray bottle. For each seedling, fan, or clump, I tried to use up to 3-4 tablespoons worth of the spray (close to 1/4 cup), which turned out to be jjust enough to cover the base and insides of the leaves where aphids like to hide. I waited a few minutes between a first and second application, to catch any aphids that didn't get sprayed directly but that came out of the leaves soon after.

One application of anything can't control adult flying aphids - they just fly in and start laying eggs afterward. And, spraying once might not eliminate any already-laid eggs, either. So, I planned to follow-up by spraying every week for a month or so, until the egg-to-flying stages might seem to be disrupted. And, I'm working on learning more about the many choices out there for fully organic insecticides, some of which I've learned are available at big box stores and online for comparably affordable prices. Hurray!

Not technically organic: Dawn Ultra non-antibiotic
Thumb of 2014-07-05/chalyse/76203e Thumb of 2014-07-05/chalyse/f69604
Certified Organic: Ortho Elementals and Safer's Insect Soap
Thumb of 2014-07-05/chalyse/94289e Thumb of 2014-07-05/chalyse/a4acb0

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

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[Last edited by chalyse - Aug 6, 2014 11:40 AM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jul 5, 2014 4:36 AM CST
There was some research for soybean oil as a control for aphids on daylilies. There are details here:

http://botanicaloils.tennessee.edu/daylilies.pdf

BTW most of the time aphids give birth to live young rather than lay eggs, that includes both winged and non-winged females - most aphids are female. They're more likely to switch to egg-laying late in the year but there are a number of different aphid species that can affect daylilies I don't know how much the lifecycle may vary for each.
Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Jul 5, 2014 4:42 AM CST
Thank you so much, Sue!

I'll work on learning about the aphid life-cycle again and check what species they might be, to see which ones may be associated with daylilies. The research you shared mentioned that the daylily they tested was infested with "...potato aphids (Macrosiphum euphorbiae..." so that's a great start.

It sure seems like I get one group of aphids under control and, never fails, up pops another! My initial reading is that soybean oils are not only useful for aphid control, but can be found in organic fertilizers as well, if soil tests show it needs amending. One thing leads to another and, whadda ya know, there I am finding out how many safe, accessible, and affordable ways there are to work smarter in the garden. Thumbs up

Thank You! Group hug
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

Daylilies that thrive? click here! Thumbs up
[Last edited by chalyse - Aug 6, 2014 11:51 AM (+)]
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Name: Pat
Near McIntosh, Florida (Zone 9a)
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Xenacrockett
Jul 5, 2014 12:52 PM CST

One year I had my farm balanced with beneficial insects.
There were no flies, (and we had horses), mosquitoes, thrips, aphids, gnats, etc.

I was soooo happy!

I had spent lots of money on beneficial nematodes, preying mantis, etc.

Then along came one of those hurricanes and blew all my good stuff away
and all the bad stuff in.

I've never bothered to get so balanced again.
(But I try to be as organic as possible...making plants stronger with soil mineralization helps prevent many pests and diseases.)

Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Jul 5, 2014 1:17 PM CST
Hi Pat Green Grin! I'm sorry to hear about the hurricane; I imagine it blew a lot of everything out. I applaud you trying to be as organic as possible, and I hope you'll decide to get that balanced with your nursery again!

Does your note here mean you are thinking about replacing the chemical rust sprays you've mentioned with safer materials? I'm finding that it is so easy to learn about affordable organic alternatives just by searching the lists of approved products at the Organic Materials Review Institute:

http://www.omri.org/omri-lists

They do mention that some products are only approved for use, and considered organic, when verified with information about the soil it would be used on ... "May be used as a plant or soil amendment only with a documented soil deficiency for magnesium." for Epsom Salts, as one mineral example (Magnesium Sulfate – synthetic). Did you get your soil checked out and find that it has low magnesium? I can imagine that a hurricane might impact the soil quite a lot.

Organic and Near-Organic Daylilies is a discussion thread for those interested in learning more and sharing their helpful experiences about becoming more organic. I'm glad to see you may have changed your mind about using toxic chemical in your farm! I'm sure you would be an inspiration to others if that is the case. Thumbs up
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

Daylilies that thrive? click here! Thumbs up
[Last edited by chalyse - Jul 5, 2014 3:56 PM (+)]
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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Sharon
Jul 5, 2014 1:48 PM CST
Chalyse said to Pat:

"Does your note here mean you are thinking about replacing the chemical rust sprays you've mentioned with safer materials?"

Tina, I don't think Pat mentioned anything about chemical rust sprays or any chemicals at all. She merely mentioned that she farmed organically with the help of beneficial insects.

Just clarifying as I see it.
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Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Jul 5, 2014 2:11 PM CST
Thanks, Sharon, I may have mis-read a number of previous posts (below), and the mention in this organics thread that she will not be returning to organics after the hurricane?

http://garden.org/thread/view_post/651127/

That is why I asked if she might have decided to seek more information about organic daylily farming again, after all. I'm enjoying going back to read previous threads, too (2012), which also tried to explore organic daylily gardening. I appreciate how hard it is to stay on topic, or to stay focused on encouragements and sorting out facts. Let me know if I misinterpreted? Thumbs up
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

Daylilies that thrive? click here! Thumbs up
[Last edited by chalyse - Jul 5, 2014 2:17 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #652952 (9)
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Ferns Daylilies Irises Cat Lover
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Sharon
Jul 5, 2014 2:18 PM CST
We like to think that our threads in the Daylily Forum will stand alone when read by members and especially by our new members. It's always good to provide a link if a reference is made concerning another member's post or if an idea that appeared in another thread makes an appearance in a different thread. All for the sake of clarity, you see?
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Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Jul 5, 2014 2:25 PM CST
Awesome, yes, that makes total sense, thanks! I am also confused when references are made about something discussed elsewhere, or sometimes as challenging, an acronym or term I don't know about and can't find explanation for. Many, many thanks for the head's up - I'll be more mindful about cross-referencing!

Here is the 2012 thread I mentioned, as well ... a wonderful start, and a different time and place of course ... but, like that and other threads, somehow the topic of organic solutions for daylily growing so often seems to drift quickly into discussions about household and commercial chemicals. I'm working hard to avoid that happening here, by being up-front about the topic's title and focus. And, I'm ever so glad for posts that contribute to expanding knowledge about organic daylilies and gardening practices, whether it is from current or working-on-becoming organic gardeners. Green Grin!

2012 thread:
The thread "Organic daylily gardening" in Daylilies forum

A helpful place for many to start, and some may want to revive it for that purpose. But, here we might hope to find a path to formal organic information and references for those who seek to sort it out further. I'm so grateful for how it is helping me be more discerning about information, and getting much needed help with technical data, information, and formal sources.

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

Daylilies that thrive? click here! Thumbs up
[Last edited by chalyse - Jul 5, 2014 3:37 PM (+)]
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Name: Pat
Near McIntosh, Florida (Zone 9a)
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Xenacrockett
Jul 6, 2014 10:28 PM CST

My take on organic, Tina, is that disease is supposed to happen when the plant and/or soil is wrong.
That is nature's way of recycling.
The trick is having the plant and soil be correct for each other.
And having proper soil includes soil mineralization.

I try to go as organic as possible.


Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Jul 7, 2014 2:09 AM CST
Thank you, Pat, I understood that to be your meaning in your post above and detailed a reply in http://garden.org/thread/view_post/652908/. Group hug
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

Daylilies that thrive? click here! Thumbs up
[Last edited by chalyse - Jul 7, 2014 2:20 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #653886 (13)
Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Jul 7, 2014 5:47 AM CST
After using the Dawn Ultra 2X as a spray on my daylilies I still noticed active aphid infestation. As a follow-up, I'll also mention that as I worked, I found that DU2X had a very strong odor (for me, medicinal and highly perfumed) and I had a small reaction to it: the airborne spray must have entered my nose and mouth as I worked because I could taste its distinct flavor for about three hours afterward (even lunch did not mute it). I also noticed that the labels did not detail even one ingredient:

Thumb of 2014-07-07/chalyse/1c35d9

Prompted by my experience, and curious about the ingredients, I visited the P&G website. The short list from the first link includes Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (petroleums) which create soap bubbles. There is ongoing research indicating these chemical surficants are a respiratory irritant, toxic to aquatic organisms, and not readily biodegradable in the environment, among other things. I could go on to detail the other synthetic chemicals that are in the product, and in the list of ingredients P&G uses in its perfumes, but I'm already prompted to use up what I have on my dishes instead, and move on to purchasing certified organic insecticides since they are readily available and equivalently priced. For reference, here are the Dawn Ultra links for ingredients:

List of Ingredients
http://www.pg.com/productsafety/ingredients/household_care/d...
Material Safety Data Sheet
http://www.pg.com/productsafety/msds/fabric_and_homecare/dis...
Perfume List of Ingredients
http://www.pgproductsafety.com/productsafety/ingredients/Per...

I'm working on looking more closely at differences between otherwise equivalent organic insecticides, but am going to simplify things with the idea that, if a product is listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute as fully approved as organic, I will take it at face value. Unless I learn that there are documented significant concerns, I'll refer to the Review Institute as an authority, and not do the time consuming work of researching and learning about ingredients on my own. That seems like a fair trade-off for getting one step closer to using organic products that are safe and effective on daylilies. nodding

Organic Materials Review Institute
Thumb of 2014-07-07/chalyse/a57985
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

Daylilies that thrive? click here! Thumbs up
[Last edited by chalyse - Aug 6, 2014 12:04 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #653923 (14)
Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Jul 13, 2014 3:36 AM CST
The growing list of organic daylily nurseries-sellers has expanded again:

http://garden.org/blogs/entry/1392/

Work is starting on identifying and verifying widely available and economically priced organic fertilizers that are approved and on the OMRI site (Organic Materials Review Institute). Note that fertilizing organically means not adding fertilizers, even organic ones, unless it is really needed. For that, soil testing must be done to determine what nutrients are already available, or being consumed, by your daylilies. More about soil testing will appear further down in this thread.

Another caution: there are some products being marketed and sold as "Organic" which are not on the OMRI approved list, including many of the "major names" in gardening supplies. That can happen when organic materials are process in a way that introduces harmful elements, or when additional non-organic materials are included in the product that prevent it from being approved. So, check the label for:

Thumb of 2014-07-13/chalyse/b50962

... and then check to see if OMRI lists any restrictions associated with the products you are considering.

I'm only including Organic Fertilizer items that have full OMRI organic approval, are available at big box and online stores, and that have been mentioned as being things that may be helpful in daylily gardening if soil tests show that fertilizing is called for (and will continue adding as more are found):

Black Gold Alfalfa Meal Fertilizer 3-1-2
Chickity Doo Doo Organic Fertilizer 5-3-2 (caution: chicken manure can be alkaline so don't apply it to daylily soil if the pH is above 6.5)
Down to Earth Alfalfa Meal 2.5-0.5-2.5
Epsom Salts (when used to correct tested and documented magnesium deficiency in soil)
Fish Rich Organic Fertilizer 2-2-2
Jobe's Organics Fertilizers (various)
Kellogg Organic Plus Fish and Kelp Fertilizer with Molasses
SaferGro (various general fertilizers, Ph adjusters, and mineral supplements)
Wiggle Worm Earthworm Castings Organic Fertilizer

If there are questions, concerns, updates to share, or items you'd like me to check on to possibly add to the list, feel free to send me a tree-mail! Thumbs up
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

Daylilies that thrive? click here! Thumbs up
[Last edited by chalyse - Aug 6, 2014 12:10 PM (+)]
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Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Jul 22, 2014 2:42 AM CST
Some certified organic items have additional requirements before they may be used. At first I was concerned that this would make organic choices more complicated, but the referenced requirements for insecticides, for example, turned out to be ones that I think make it much easier!

For example, before using many certified organic Yard and Garden Insecticide products, formal organic practice means that first ... "...requirements of 205.206(e) are met, which requires the use of preventative, mechanical, physical, and other pest, weed, and disease management practices."

Sounded pretty scary, complex, and heavy-handed to me!! -- what could those mechanical practices be?!! But ... here is a summary of what 205.206(e) is recommending we do first ... and I think others may be as surprised as I was to find that:

Pest, weed, and disease management should first include some type of natural means to achieve the same ends, including choices such as:

- Soil and plant nutrient practices, including testing before amending;
- Removal of diseased trimmings, weed seeds, and materials that harbor pest organisms;
- Practices that promote plant health, including "selection of plant species and varieties with regard to suitability to site-specific conditions and resistance to prevalent pests, weeds, and diseases."
- Increasing or introducing predators and parasites of pest species;
- Incorporating habitats that attract and support the natural enemies of pests;
- Nonsynthetic use of such things as lures, traps, and organic repellents;
- Mulching with fully biodegradable materials;
- Mowing;
- Weeding by hand or with tools.

That pretty much takes care of what most daylily gardeners do already, I think! And they were a good reminder to me of things I may have overlooked this summer, or not have done for a while. Thumbs up

My favorite natural enemy of daylily-loving aphid pests (and you can buy USDA-approved ones, just like ladybugs!):

Thumb of 2014-07-22/chalyse/4c6a3d
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

Daylilies that thrive? click here! Thumbs up
[Last edited by chalyse - Aug 6, 2014 12:14 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #664159 (16)
Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Jul 26, 2014 5:00 AM CST
Daylilies grown in professionally designed or maintained home display gardens are a lovely addition in any neighborhood or backyard sanctuary. There are many ways to arrange for informal or formal garden work to be done on a one-time or recurring basis. Having someone else dig, arrange, or tend to a daylily garden can make the difference for many people in being able to enjoy the beauty of a manicured garden - vacationers, dual-career home, larger-than-your-time landscapes, mobility challenges, snow birds, busy families, frequent fliers, etc. Some reports state that as many as 50% of all home-owners at some point in time rely upon outside or professional yard and garden care.

Organic lawn and garden services are a growing industry making it possible to choose anything from hybrid programs that combine chemical yard and organic garden maintenance to one-stop organic yard and garden designers who also offer maintenance. There are nationally franchised companies that offer one-time or extended maintenance programs. More and more chemically-based local services are beginning to offer organic alternatives, though they may not advertise it prominently or at all. An easy way to transition, then, is to see if a current provider can incorporate some or all organic practices for you, and to "test out" how well it performs in your own daylily beds. Most sources note that a trial period should last at least six months since organic methods may need time to get established and show full benefits.

If you are interested in more organic alternatives from daylily/landscape care providers, there are many sources to consider. Just a few are included here as samples and examples, not in any way a thorough representation or recommendation. They are easily found by searching the internet with a local area or zip code included in the search terms (for example: organic garden services, your city). If there is nothing available right in your own town, try your county name, or sample some of the nationally based chains. Yelp and Yellow Pages are also sources for many local services that also provide reviews.

Available Services or List of Providers in Most States:
http://www.lawndoctor.com/find_a_local_lawn_doctor.html
https://iyp.scottslawnservice.com/sls/templates/index.jsp?pa...
http://www.novativemedia.com/organic_gardening/
http://www.greenpeople.org/Organic-Gardening.cfm

An example of 50% reduction in chemical use for landscaping care in Atlanta:
http://www.weedpro.com/organic-lawn-care/organic-service/

There are also many local organic landscape service providers who can tend your daylily garden in ways that are safe for kids, pets, and the earth. Here is a list with a few samples and examples from coast to coast - also not meant to be exhaustive or in any way recommended, just a quick list to whet the appetite:

http://garden.org/blogs/entry/1476/

Remember also that not all stated organic products, practices, or services are fully or actually approved as organic, so ask questions and seek direct and detailed answers if you want to understand better what is being sold. You can check the status of materials and goods at http://www.omri.org/omri-lists and I'm working on compiling information on how to determine whether organic practices are approved as truly organic, to incorporate them into daylily gardening.

Here are some general questions to ask landscapers who may include services for your daylily gardens:

- How do you control weeds?
- What do you feed the landscape with?
- Do you provide approved insects to control pests?
- What mulching options are available?
- Do you provide Material Safety Data Sheets for the products you use?

Thumb of 2014-07-26/chalyse/5b942e
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

Daylilies that thrive? click here! Thumbs up
[Last edited by chalyse - Aug 6, 2014 12:17 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #667042 (17)
Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Aug 4, 2014 5:42 AM CST
I'm going to be highlighting some great info and links from @sooby that got me looking at organic daylily gardening in a whole new way, and I'm hoping she might indulge me in a couple more questions at the end of this post.

I started from a place where chemicals had already become a small part of my daylily gardening routine, and at first I wanted just to "step it down" and seek out more natural products. Now, I see that it is really something, for me, that needs to start from square one, without any focus on chemicals, fertilizers, or additive products of any kind until I know more about the soil my daylilies live in, the nutrients that soil may actually supply, and what is best suited to maintaining daylily health.

Until I know those things, everything else ends up being just a really big distraction for me. So, here is me, starting all over, and hoping to understand more deeply "from the ground up." That means starting with soil or leaf tissue analysis to learn what my daylilies are growing in, and what the plant is actually absorbing.

Sue provided great information and readings to supplement a discussion about soil's nutritional impacts, and the special needs of daylilies. Soil nutrition, and how it supports daylily needs, go hand-in-hand when learning to care for them organically and I'll hope to include more information over time as topics unfold. Here is something she mentioned about testing for both pH (potential of Hydrogen; a measure of acidic, neutral, or alkaline level in soil that impacts the uptake of nutrients) and the three major macro-nutrients, NPK (simplistically; nitrogen that feeds foliage growth, phosphorus that supplies energy, and potassium that maximizes water use, plant growth and health):

"Regarding what to test in addition to pH and NPK, I would include micronutrients, although if you think you have a nutritional problem you might be better getting a leaf analysis which tells you what nutrients are actually being taken up by the plant instead of what is in the soil (and which may not be in an available form). You're not as likely to have micronutrient [mineral] deficiencies if your pH is around 6.5 or below (although if it too low that's another problem)."

To test for pH, macro-, and micro-nutrients, you may be able to find an agricultural Extension Service in your local county that offers soil and tissue testing for free or at low cost. On the other hand, if you are like me and have nothing available locally, you can get professional testing done, or purchase low-cost but highly accurate home kits (http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/17/3/358.abstra...).

If you think there may be a nutrient problem and want to test tissue samples for micro-nutrients yourself, the study linked above identified a top-ranked soil test kit made by a company that also sells leaf tissue test kits. Both macro- (NPK) and micro-nutrient (minerals: ferrous and ferric iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and boron) test kits are available from distributors of LaMotte kits for about $100 each.

To test soil just for pH and macro-nutrients, there are many accurate home tests available. Again, check the prior link for information about test kit accuracy levels as a guide. Almost all of the tissue and soil tests give a numerical reading for pH, and general qualitative rankings for macro- or micro-nutrients (low, medium, or high, for example), so there will be less specific information gained than might be given by professional services. But, they are an inexpensive, easy, and helpful tool for home gardeners who don't have affordable access to full testing, and who want to get a good, basic idea about the composition of the soil in their daylily gardens.

To maintain pH ranges that may be most beneficial for daylilies, Sue mentioned "...there is no published research on the pH range for daylilies. In an article about daylilies: http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/pubs/oh33.htm Sinclair Adam Jr. ... suggests a range of 5.5 to 6.5. I'm thinking that's probably about right, even as low as 5 may be OK ... Most of the problems I've heard of came from a pH that was too high suggesting at least some cultivars prefer a more acidic soil. Also, if growing in soilless media, the pH can safely be lower than in mineral soil."

With reference to macro-nutrients, http://books.google.com/books/about/Marschner_s_Mineral_Nutr... observed that elevated levels of nitrogen, and inadequate levels of potassium, were associated with increased susceptibility to disease. Increasing potassium above inadequate levels, without going into excess, was also associated with increasing resistance to disease.

I'm starting with a highly-ranked home soil test that digitally reads the color range of soil sample and gives information on pH and the macro-nutrients. A kit with enough material to test 10 soil samples goes for about $22 at big box and online stores, and should give me a basic understanding of the soil nutrition already available in my different daylily gardens.

My questions for Sue, if you get time? Might you have a source for any information on phosphorous and daylilies? Given qualitative ranges supplied with home-kit macro-nutrients, do you think a good soil test result might look something like: pH from about 5.0-6.5, nitrogen low, phosphorous low, and potassium "medium or high," at least as a good base to start from or aim toward?
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

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[Last edited by chalyse - Aug 6, 2014 12:27 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Aug 4, 2014 7:54 AM CST
If you're going to try and manipulate soil fertility in regard to diseases, you need to consider the specific disease/s you're trying to avoid, they may not necessarily all fit a black and white generalization. As an example, using diseases I'm familiar with on turf, dollar spot is favoured by low nitrogen and brown patch is favoured by high nitrogen yet is not an obligate parasite (remember Marschner said high N favoured obligate parasites but had the opposite effect on facultative ones). There is research to show that rust likes high N on several other plants, however.

Re soil test kits, there's a more extensive article on the accuracy (or not) of several of these at:
http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/17/3/358.full

As for your question, it's difficult when they don't give the results in amounts, but I would be inclined to go for medium on all, bearing in mind that if they test for nitrogen it is probably only nitrate nitrogen (NO3). Plants take up nitrogen in the forms of ammonium (NH4) and nitrate and the soil test for nitrate would not include organic nitrogen which has to be converted to NH4 and then NO3 by soil microbes before the plants can use it. Thus there can, in effect, be N there in organic form for the future that isn't measured. Going too high on K can induce deficiencies of N, Ca and Mg. Other nutrients in excess can cause deficiencies of others, also.

The only information on phosphorous for daylilies that I can think of are the deficiency symptoms according to some tests described in the AHS's 2002 Handbook (large number of new leaves that were dark green in colour). Also Dr. Scott Elliott wrote an article about his experiments on daylily nutrient deficiency symptoms in the AHS Daylily Journal fairly recently. I have a feeling he wasn't able to induce a P deficiency but I can't find that Journal at the moment - will have another look later unless someone else can find it first. (Edit: found it, as I thought he wasn't able to induce P deficiency in daylilies).
[Last edited by sooby - Aug 4, 2014 8:21 AM (+)]
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Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Aug 4, 2014 9:11 AM CST
Awesome info and link, Sue, thank you so much. It is great to learn more background information on the data that soil tests will produce, and my kit won't arrive for four to seven days so I have some time to explore a bit more before I go digging in the gardens. Mine will be the type that will measure NO3, P2O5, and K20, at about 92% accuracy to commercial tests, and uses a built-in colorimetric scan to identify the results. Perhaps I can also try to get a full nitrate set of tests done professionally to get a better picture of the different elements of it, as that might be the most affordable route overall, for me. I've learned from the USDA site that areas affected by drought conditions may also increase N to toxic levels (even livestock cannot feed on some plants at that level) from build up that comes from those other sources you mentioned ("ammonium (NH4) and nitrate ... which has to be converted to NH4 and then NO3 by soil microbes before the plants can use it. Thus there can, in effect, be N there in organic form for the future that isn't measured [in NO3-based tests].)

It sounds like learning more about the various kinds and types of daylily related diseases would really help me understand what problems might be encountered or avoided if I end up with high or low results. I'd feel more confident to know more before I consider adding OMRI approved organic material or fertilizers to adjust the nutrient mix. So, I'll aim for the "medium" range you mentioned as a kind of balance point to establish a generally beneficial range for daylily health, and work from there in terms of possibly adjusting the soil any further.

If I could also create a small area in which I could adjust the nutrients to higher and lower ends of the spectrum, to look further at how it might impact different fans of the same cultivar, and any diseases that might result, it would be great to learn more about the interaction of nutrition and daylily health, perhaps even about how to anticipate or watch for specific conditions. I'll try to search out more info on nutrient associations with daylily diseases, but would also love a nudge if you might already know of any!

I'll try to start on a list in this thread of common daylily diseases, pets, and other conditions, and how they may be approached with organic practices and products (when needed) based on Sue's http://www.daylilies.org/ahs_dictionary/crownrot.html and other sources, and expand as more information is explored - additions and corrections welcome:

http://garden.org/thread/view_post/674656/
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

Daylilies that thrive? click here! Thumbs up
[Last edited by chalyse - Aug 6, 2014 12:53 PM (+)]
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