Daylilies forum: Silly question about scapes

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Name: Laura
SE Michigan (Zone 5b)
Daylilies Region: Michigan Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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twixanddud
Aug 5, 2015 6:43 PM CST
I'm not sure that I'll be able to phrase this right, but here goes... When scapes are bloomed out and if you don't have any pods on them, what is the 'best' thing to do? Cut the scapes down right away or wait until the scapes are brown and then pull them? Assuming neatness and the looks of ugly dying scapes were not an issue, what would be the most beneficial for the plant? I recall hearing a few years ago that the scapes should be left on, but thought I'd ask here on this forum. Thanks!
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
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beckygardener
Aug 5, 2015 7:10 PM CST
Not a silly question at all. I have no idea if it is beneficial to leave the scapes on the plant until it turns brown or not. I will be interested to hear what others say, too!

Most of mine stay because I usually have seed pods ripening on mine. The pods ripen about the same time the scape turns brown.
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 5, 2015 7:20 PM CST
It's a matter of preference but should be slightly better to leave the scapes on until they're brown and then cut them or leave them. The hollow cut stems can collect moisture and insects/mites so it may be better for the plant to leave them intact for longer. Some people leave the dead scapes on so they can do bud counts when less busy. What you definitely should not do is pull the scapes off if they don't release with a slight tug because otherwise you may damage the crown and create an entry for diseases and pests.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
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beckygardener
Aug 5, 2015 7:24 PM CST
Sue - Great advice! That makes good sense to me. Thank you. I am guilty of cutting them off and I have thought about that hollow space for pests or disease to enter, but I didn't follow through on those thoughts. My gut instinct told me exactly what you just confirmed. Thank You! Thumbs up
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Name: Pat Strong
Stone Mountain (Zone 8a)
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Pat236
Aug 5, 2015 7:37 PM CST
Sue, thanks for that tidbit of information. I always pull my up after they turn brown and dry out. So much to learn!
Pat236
Name: Julie
Roanoke, VA (Zone 7a)
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floota
Aug 5, 2015 8:08 PM CST
The late Ra Hansen ( Dan Hansen's mother for any who might be newer to daylilies) always said to wait until the scapes were brown and would come out when pulled or tugged gently . She knew daylilies, and I've always followed her advice. Just last night, I went around and gave a gentle tug to the brown scapes - if they pulled out easily then they were pulled and and added to the compost pile. Sometimes they brown and are still not quite ready to pull - they won't come out with a gentle tug. A few snapped off last night , so they were just left until they've browned a bit more. If the scapes look too unsightly, you can always prune them - it's whatever floats your boat. But I agree with Sue, at some point they need to be pulled. In the fall ( beginning in late Sept. here) the entire garden will get cleaned - all scapes will be pulled and the foliage will be cut back to about 6". Perennials will be cut back too. Some in more northern climates prefer to leave all the old foliage to act as mulch during the winter, but here it's better to get the garden as clean as possible so that no insects or diseases are harbored on the old foliage over winter.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
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beckygardener
Aug 5, 2015 8:26 PM CST
Ra Hanson knows best!!! Thumbs up Big Grin
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Name: Christine
Southeastern MN (Zone 4a)
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Christine27360
Aug 5, 2015 9:43 PM CST
Julie - what do you use to cut the foliage back -- last year i got the hedge trimmer out and gave them all a buzz cut -- that was the faster i ever cleaned out the daylily foliage in the garden. Whistling Whistling
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Name: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
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admmad
Aug 6, 2015 1:27 AM CST
It is likely that the plant moves some material that it can scavenge out of the dying scape to reuse it to grow new leaves or other tissues. It does do this with dying flowers, and probably does the same thing with dying leaves. It should be slightly more beneficial to let the scape brown naturally and then remove it when a slight tug releases it from the crown. That would indicate that the process of exporting reusable resources from the scape had been completed.
Maurice
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
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cybersix
Aug 6, 2015 1:47 AM CST
Good to know! I always cut the scape as near as I can to the base of the plants. But I'll leave them on now. So, deadheading is still good? Or is it the same for the spent flower?
Sabrina, North Italy
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Name: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
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admmad
Aug 6, 2015 2:10 AM CST
cybersix said:So, deadheading is still good?

That depends on the time at which the flower is deadheaded.
cybersix said:is it the same for the spent flower?

It is the same for the spent flower. Material that can be reused is exported from the dying flower to other parts of the daylily plant.

Bieleski studied the movement of resources from the flower to other parts of the plant. He considered time zero to be midnight during the night before the flower opened and examined the flower up to 34 hours later. Resources were moved from the flower as it aged and died and transported to other parts of the plant during that time.

I seldom deadhead the flowers but when I do then it is only after they have developed their special layer that allows the drying flower to be easily removed from the scape at the special joint between the flower stem (pedicel) and the scape. The export of resources from the dying/drying flower should have more or less ended by then.
Maurice
Name: Sabrina
Italy, Brescia (Zone 8b)
Love daylilies and making candles!
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cybersix
Aug 6, 2015 3:43 AM CST
Thank you, so basically when you touch the flower and it falls by itself, right? I was used to deadhead right in the morning, I will let flower and scapes do what they please!
Sabrina, North Italy
My blog: http://hemerocallisblog.com
Name: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
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admmad
Aug 6, 2015 6:59 AM CST
cybersix said:Thank you, so basically when you touch the flower and it falls by itself, right?

You are very welcome. Yes

Maurice

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