Daylilies forum: Can daylily cultivars adapt?

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Name: Chuck
Gorham Maine (Zone 5a)
Hummingbirder Daylilies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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dogwalker
Aug 3, 2015 5:04 AM CST
I have read a lot recently about the blooming habits of evergreen verses semi - evergreen verses dormant. Living in the Northeast my daylilies are exposed to a large range of challenges and conditions. Before I truly understood the three descriptions I spent money on looks and not adaptability. Sadly in some cases there were little if any results. And yet some selections made it and have thrived. One example would be "clothed in glory", an evergreen.
This has started me wondering if perhaps some evergreen varieties adapt to the local conditions they find themselves in? I am sure that they don't become full fledged dormants, but could they develop some of those traits through adaption?
I have noticed when moving to Maine that location, soil, lighting, climatic conditions can change the growing and blooming habits of the plants. Can they to some degree adapt their cultivar inclination?
I maybe just blowing smoke here but it is an interesting concept.
Chuck
Life is a journey of adventure and discovery, sail bravely into each new day.
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
Aug 3, 2015 6:15 AM CST
I think all plants can adapt to their climate to some degree, but I also think you might be asking a question that was not readily seen in your post.
You mention "Blooming Habits" of evergreen verses Semi-evergreen verses dormant? Were you referring to "foliage habit" or more specifically "hardiness" of the plants. There is some question as to usefulness of those descriptions as they relate to hardiness.
"Can they to some degree adapt their cultivar inclination?" Well plants that are Evergreen in Florida may very well behave as dormant in your area, and in some cases may be just as hardy as any dormant in your garden.
See this post:
The thread "Need clarification on Rust Resistant Rating" in Plant Database forum
Rating/#end_of_thread
Is this post relevant to what you were asking? Sorry if I did not understand the questions.
Name: Chuck
Gorham Maine (Zone 5a)
Hummingbirder Daylilies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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dogwalker
Aug 3, 2015 8:07 AM CST
Hi Larry,
Yes basically your saying what I was asking.
If a plant is evergreen in Fla. does it internally change somewhat to survive as dormant would in a colder climate.
I know there are exceptions to every rule.
Chuck
Life is a journey of adventure and discovery, sail bravely into each new day.
Name: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
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admmad
Aug 3, 2015 8:15 AM CST
At least some plants can adapt to a certain extent to their conditions. As far as I know (from memory) there is no scientific evidence for whether daylilies can adapt or If they can by how much.

The typical example of a plant adapting in one manner would be a plant growing in the middle of summer that if plunged immediately into sub-freezing conditions would die but if that same plant was grown at steadily lower temperatures and other conditions and then plunged into sub-freezing temperatures would survive those temperatures and even lower temperatures.

However, there are more basic problems. Daylilies are classified by their apparent foliage behaviour in the locations and growing conditions where they are hybridized. They are either "dormant", "semi-evergreen" or "evergreen". Unfortunately those foliage designations are not necessarily consistent and may be different in different locations and different growing conditions. Even more importantly those designations are probably almost completely unrelated to winter hardiness. How close the relationship is between foliage categories and winter hardiness can be objectively measured by their correlation. If they are strongly related the correlation would be maximal at positive or negative one. If they are totally unrelated the correlation would be minimal at zero. I have not done the necessary analysis but from my experience the relationship is probably near zero and probably of little significance.

I am in zone 4; When I purchase daylilies I pay no attention to foliage categories. In my conditions nearly all daylilies are "dormant". I expect that if those same daylilies were grown in Florida they would nearly all be "evergreen".

There are some plants that are described as not reacting well when their roots are disturbed (for example, celosias http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/newsletters/hortupdate/ho...). I think some daylilies do not like to have their roots disturbed and take a long time to become properly re-established. I think those cultivars have a difficult time surviving their first winters in cold climate locations.

Last year I received an order in August. It had one fan of 'Spectral Elegance" and two fans of 'Isle of Wight'. These are siblings both evergreen and both bred in Florida from 'Ballerina on Ice' x tet 'Ruffled Masterpiece'). 'Isle of Wight' sailed through winter with no problem; 'Spectral Elegance' disappeared and made an appearance much later this spring as a tiny seedling size fan. My past experience with this type of behaviour is that 'Spectral Elegance' will sail through this coming winter with no problem and will not have any problems with future winters, as long as I do not disturb the roots. Why do I think it is root disturbance that is the problem? I tried the experiment of simply lifting a cultivar that reacts in the same way and leaving it in exactly the same spot. It had grown undisturbed and without problems in the same location for more than six years. The very next spring it responded by producing fewer and smaller fans.
Maurice
Name: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
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admmad
Aug 3, 2015 8:20 AM CST
Yes, daylilies that are evergreen in Florida can be dormant in a cold winter location. A daylily can be dormant because of the growing conditions (the environment). So a daylily that has the ability to go dormant in cold weather does not go dormant where the winters are mild or the weather is not appropriate to go dormant. That daylily can continue growing and if bred in that location would be labelled as evergreen.

Most evergreen daylilies have the ability to go dormant in the appropriate conditions (I write most since there has been no test of this ability - other than people growing registered evergreens in the north and seeing them go dormant).
Maurice
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
Aug 3, 2015 9:04 AM CST
So glad to hear the explanation of "root disturbance", that explains some things I had no explaination for that have happened in my garden. I think even if the entire plant is not dug up, if it just has some divisions removed from it, I think it still has it's roots disturbed and will show similar behavior(fading, and coming back strong later).
Name: Chuck
Gorham Maine (Zone 5a)
Hummingbirder Daylilies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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dogwalker
Aug 3, 2015 10:58 AM CST
Thanks Maurice,
That's great informative feed back. I myself have noticed the root disturbance issue that you speak about. When I receive a triple or double fan I usually leave them combined. The recovery process for the newly transplanted plant is much faster with a strong root system. Small or single fans take much longer to re - establish themselves. Plants are sometimes smarter then gardeners, they know that they need a good support system (roots) to survive and prosper.
Chuck
An afterthought about planting as soon as possible to establish health for coming winters reminded me of what my father once said, "You don't wait until the first snow storm to find out where to buy a shovel"
Life is a journey of adventure and discovery, sail bravely into each new day.
[Last edited by dogwalker - Aug 3, 2015 11:05 AM (+)]
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Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
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Natalie
Aug 3, 2015 11:10 AM CST
Hi Chuck! Prior to my move to Idaho, I was in zone 5a. I always stayed away from evergreens, thinking that they would never survive in my cold climate. I finally did buy some, and was very surprised at how well they adapted! However, I bought from a local grower who had the plants in her garden for a few years first, so they were well tested. The majority of them behaved as a dormant. If at all possible, I'd suggest buying evergreens from a local grower, who has already tested them out to make sure that they can withstand much colder conditions that are specific to your area.
Natalie
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
Aug 3, 2015 11:26 AM CST
Natalie said: I'd suggest buying evergreens from a local grower, who has already tested them out to make sure that they can withstand much colder conditions that are specific to your area.


I agree, although I would add that applies to any foliage habit because registered "dormants" can be winter wimps. I have grown, and have lost a few (but not too many), daylilies from all foliage habits here. I think I quoted this elsewhere but may be worth repeating, from the AHS FAQ page:

"The cold-hardiness of daylilies is quite variable. Some are iron-clad hardy. Others are extremely tender. Cold-hardiness is not determined by the foliage habit. Evergreen, dormant, and semi-evergreen can be anything from extremely cold-hardy to extremely tender. To avoid risk of losing a cultivar, choose daylilies which others have already grown successfully in your climate."

[Last edited by sooby - Aug 3, 2015 11:27 AM (+)]
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Name: Jessie Worsham
Stockbridge, GA (Zone 8a)
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
Daylilies Hostas Heucheras Cat Lover Echinacea Hybridizer
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Jessie6162
Aug 3, 2015 1:54 PM CST
Definitely buy local or observe local plants to see what will do well in your area. Also, there is a new feature called "Local Reports" that Dave just created for people to share growing data. It may take a while for all the cultivars to be reported on, but definitely a very useful tool!

My understanding of this concept is that each daylily has a certain genetic potential. If it's genetically a sunlight-based dormant, (dormancy triggered by shorter days in Fall) it will probably be dormant even for me here in Georgia. If it is somewhere on the semi-evergreen scale, it may have the potential to respond to temperature and/or other conditions and could react very differently in your garden compared to mine. The hybridizer typically registers a plant based on his/her local observations, so that information might not be useful to you if you live in a different zone. The choices of dormant/semi/evergreen are very general, but there are probably hundreds of variations along this scale. Hardiness, as mentioned before, is not directly related to foliage habit.

From your original question, I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't think that daylilies "develop" these traits; the traits for dormancy or hardiness are already there in the genetic make-up of the plant, but may not express themselves until they are exposed to certain environmental conditions.
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
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cybersix
Aug 3, 2015 2:35 PM CST
Here the few growers give as a fact that a DL is an evergreen in the south and dormant in the north, so I really never thought about it. It's because of cold. The one that really has been dorman until now is Stella de Oro, the others stayed semi or evergreen, but we didn't have a really freezing winter, so I will see next how things will go. The growers gives the same details for every DL no difference in cultivars, hemerocallis genus is known for its dry, cold, hot resistance, and that's it. Too simple?

I noticed the few I divided to give as a little gift to my sisters this year didn't grow much, they look just seedling, so I guess I should not disturb them (mine are quite young, bought bare roots and planted in march 2014).
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Chuck
Gorham Maine (Zone 5a)
Hummingbirder Daylilies Garden Ideas: Level 1
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dogwalker
Aug 3, 2015 4:00 PM CST
Jessie,
Your comment about genetic makeup really makes sense.
Like when children are born they contain different factors that determine how they will develop.
Thanks, Chuck
Life is a journey of adventure and discovery, sail bravely into each new day.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
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beckygardener
Aug 3, 2015 11:39 PM CST
Maurice - Root disturbance makes real sense to me. I have lost several seedlings since amending the raised bed they were in. Apparently they had a root system too small to recover and quickly died.

I have another question ...

How do daylilies do competing with other plant roots? I ask because I have some planted next to an Oak tree. A few of those have disappeared, too. I dug around in the dirt and found roots that I am sure belong to the tree. (sigh) Never enough ground space when you have trees! Some of my daylilies have a pretty massive root system, can those survive around other larger plants or will they eventually die off due to the competition?

And another question ....

Can producing pods on a seedling eventually kill it? I am talking about a small seedling with a single fan. Does it tax the plant so much that it doesn't recover and eventually dies that same season?

All these things I am taking note of in my different seedling beds. I often feel like my yard is a virtual experiment!
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: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
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admmad
Aug 4, 2015 5:56 AM CST
beckygardener said:How do daylilies do competing with other plant roots? I ask because I have some planted next to an Oak tree. A few of those have disappeared, too. I dug around in the dirt and found roots that I am sure belong to the tree. (sigh) Never enough ground space when you have trees! Some of my daylilies have a pretty massive root system, can those survive around other larger plants or will they eventually die off due to the competition?

It is difficult to separate root competition from competition for light. Are the daylilies that are planted next to the oak tree growing in its shade all day, for part of the day or not at all? Oak trees are described as having taproots but they also have roots that spread out in the soil so the oak tree could be competing with the daylilies both above and below ground. If the daylilies near the oak tree are being out-competed enough, so that they are dwindling with time, then even if they have massive root systems in time they will fail to survive - it just may take much longer for them to fail.

Can producing pods on a seedling eventually kill it? I am talking about a small seedling with a single fan. Does it tax the plant so much that it doesn't recover and eventually dies that same season?
We do not have any objective scientific information (that I know of) about the effect of producing seeds. I can speculate that a plant that flowers is capable of supporting the expected number of seeds that the number of its flowers would normally (naturally) produce. I can also speculate that if the plant was being taxed by its seed load that it would abort some or all of the seed pods. However, those are logical responses and it is possible that some plants do not respond with the most adaptive strategy.

How many of the daylily seeds that you plant germinate and produce a seedling above ground? How many of those seedlings then die? What happens to the seedlings that die - do they dwindle slowly, do their leaves die suddenly, etc?
Maurice
[Last edited by admmad - Aug 4, 2015 5:23 PM (+)]
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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
Aug 4, 2015 6:28 AM CST
Maurice - You are totally correct about the Oak tree competing with my daylilies. The daylilies get plenty of sun. But, I checked around the soil first thing this morning. I was hoping that the tap root and small feeder roots would not be up around the surface of the soil .... but it appears they are. There are so many small roots through that daylily bed that I am going to have to cut through them to get my daylilies out. (sigh)

Most of my backyard is not laid out for daylilies, apparently. Even raised beds 10-15 feet away from any shrubs or trees, eventually finds that the shrub/tree roots make it to my daylily garden. But that takes a much longer time than just 6 months like those daylilies beds right next to the Oak Tree. I keep wondering if there is something I could put down in a garden bed to prevent those roots from infiltrating my daylily and other garden beds. Only other trees and shrubs seem to be able hold their own against these larger trees. The trees stay because they provide a habitat for wildlife and shade for my house at times during the day. So the daylilies will have to be moved. Sad

I asked about the small seedlings producing pods because I did set pods on most of my seedlings and harvested seeds from them. Some pods had a lot of seeds and some had only a couple. I did not pay attention to the number of seeds vs. the size of the seedling plant.

I had read that it is best to cut off scapes when dividing and transplanting daylilies. I didn't know if that were true or not? Having such small seedlings this Spring, I have since lost a few of them and I am wondering if it was because of the seed pods. Even other seedlings that are still alive after I harvested seeds from them are still not producing any additional fans. They remain at a single fan. So it seemed like the seed production had an adverse affect on the pod parent plants. Possibly to the point that it exhausted the plant to death? I dug around in the dirt where they were planted and found remains of decomposing roots. So the plant actually did die. While others around them are doing fine. Maybe still at a single fan, but not dead. The plants that disappeared were randomly throughout the raised bed. Not all together, but one here and one there, etc. so I don't know or even think that it was something in the soil. Maybe the genetics of the plant were just weak?

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: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
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admmad
Aug 4, 2015 8:48 AM CST
beckygardener said:I asked about the small seedlings producing pods because I did set pods on most of my seedlings and harvested seeds from them. Some pods had a lot of seeds and some had only a couple. I did not pay attention to the number of seeds vs. the size of the seedling plant.

I had read that it is best to cut off scapes when dividing and transplanting daylilies. I didn't know if that were true or not? Having such small seedlings this Spring, I have since lost a few of them and I am wondering if it was because of the seed pods. Even other seedlings that are still alive after I harvested seeds from them are still not producing any additional fans. They remain at a single fan. So it seemed like the seed production had an adverse affect on the pod parent plants. Possibly to the point that it exhausted the plant to death? I dug around in the dirt where they were planted and found remains of decomposing roots. So the plant actually did die. While others around them are doing fine. Maybe still at a single fan, but not dead. The plants that disappeared were randomly throughout the raised bed. Not all together, but one here and one there, etc. so I don't know or even think that it was something in the soil. Maybe the genetics of the plant were just weak?


A healthy growing daylily produces excess resources that it uses for survival/growth/reproduction/etc. Whatever resources it uses for producing new fans are not available for seed production or flower production, etc. And whatever resources the plant uses for seed production are not available for producing new fans. It is always a trade-off unless the fan is large enough to produce enough surplus resources for both new fan growth and seed production. In that respect yes seed production will have an adverse effect on new fan production - a small fan may not be able to do both at the same time as it may not have enough surplus resources.
Maurice
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
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beckygardener
Aug 4, 2015 8:56 AM CST
Thank you! That is what I have suspected all along from my own observations of the past couple of years growing seedlings.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
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Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
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Hemlady
Aug 4, 2015 9:03 AM CST
I have also observed that too but it seems to vary by cultivar. One that I heavily pollinate is Galaxy Explosion and that one does not seem to have any adverse effects at all. It is extremely hardy and continues to multiply.
Lighthouse Gardens
Name: Louise Alley
Central Maine, Waterville (Zone 5a)
BillAlleysDLs
Aug 4, 2015 1:14 PM CST
Hi Chuck,
I'm in Maine and North of you and have a variety of evergreens, semi, and dormants. If they grow in zone 5 or 6 I give them a try and have rarely lost any. I do mulch for the first year or two. Evergreens do look sadder in the Spring but revive quickly. Evergreens and dormants appear about the same in the Spring here. If this helps? Louise
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
Aug 4, 2015 2:09 PM CST
beckygardener said:I had read that it is best to cut off scapes when dividing and transplanting daylilies. I didn't know if that were true or not?


It's more the foliage than the scapes that should be cut back when dividing and transplanting, you can leave the scapes on. Nurseries that "dig on demand" cut back the foliage but leave on the scapes. The reason is transpiration. Most of the water a plant needs is used for transpiration (cooling mechanism). When you dig and divide you damage the roots and so they can't supply the same amount of leaf with enough water to stop them wilting. So we shorten the leaves to reduce the water demand so that they don't wilt and the plant is also less shocked.

I know a lot of people say one shouldn't cut back leaves because they feed the plant, which is absolutely true, but dug and divided plants are an exception. If the leaves wilt because there aren't enough roots to supply water then they are not effectively photosynthesizing in any case. Edited to add that's budded or flowering scapes that I'm referring to but you probably meant scapes with pods from the context?

[Last edited by sooby - Aug 4, 2015 3:21 PM (+)]
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