Daylilies forum: Fertilizer for Daylilies

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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
Feb 17, 2016 2:37 PM CST
I know the common answer to my question...get a soil test and a plant tissue test. I also know that for many years we were told that daylilies should not be given much nitrogen and that to do so would result in all foliage and few blooms. Now it seems as if the things can be feed enough nitrogen (well almost).
So last year I actually did fertilize my daylilies a little, I am not sure it did any good, but from what I keep reading they will almost surely benefit from more fertilizer than I have been giving them. So even if I did get the test done I am not sure the recommendations would be correct specifically for daylilies. Any comments on that would be welcome.
I bought some Milorganite and some 20-0-5 (I think it was) three month release fertilizer, and plan to get some Alfalfa pellets. Can anyone advise how much should be applied to each plant assuming the three are mixed together in equal amounts (or other suggested ratios).
I will appreciate any comments from those of you who do not fertilize at all and from those who really apply ample amounts of fertilizers. The experience of those who have switched back and fourth between methods would be highly appreciated.
[Last edited by Seedfork - Feb 17, 2016 6:18 PM (+)]
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Name: Amanda
St Louis Metro (Zone 6b)
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Badcat
Feb 17, 2016 3:50 PM CST
I use domestic rabbit poop to fertilize... Milorganite is good for repelling deer from what I hear. Is this question about pest or just trying to get them to grow?
Name: Fred Manning
Lillian Alabama

Charter ATP Member Region: Gulf Coast I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Seller of Garden Stuff Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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spunky1
Feb 17, 2016 3:50 PM CST
This time of year I top dress with a nine month slow release (16-4-8) about a tablespoon around each plant (2-3 fans) I do not have clumps. I also add Chicken Litter, about 2 tablespoons around each plant. You may also need to add some lime to adjust the ph to about 6.5, if the ph is too low the plants can't take up the fertilizer. You can get a cheap ph meter at any box or hardware store. I also water my daylilies every other day ( I think water is more important than fertilizer).
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
Feb 17, 2016 4:16 PM CST
Badcat,
I have more than my share of critters, and I do think the Milorganite helps to deter them some, but this is all about just getting bigger and better blooms and trying to assure rebloom later in the season. I started using the Milorganite because of a video by Dan Hansen, he said it was one of the best things to green up daylilies early. I guess that is also where I got the lawn fertilizer recommendation.
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
Feb 17, 2016 4:22 PM CST
Fred, I do have a ph meter but I guess it doesn't work too well hanging up on the shed wall. I just have never had much faith in it, probably because I never actually followed the proper directions. But I will get it out and re-read the instructions (something about putting the soil in a jar and wetting it thoroughly) then putting the probes into the soil. I always wanted to just stick it in the ground an get a reading, lazy I guess...poor excuse.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Feb 17, 2016 5:02 PM CST
Seedfork said:Badcat,
in the season. I started using the Milorganite because of a video by Dan Hansen, he said it was one of the best things to green up daylilies early. I guess that is also where I got the lawn fertilizer recommendation.


Milorganite contains a lot of iron, which can make plants greener, especially if they are low in iron (which is more likely if the pH is high, in which case you wouldn't want to apply lime). For lawn fertilizer a ratio nearer to Fred's would be more appropriate than 20-0-5 unless you know your soil already has a lot of potassium (adequate potassium helps reduce rust severity while excessive nitrogen may increase rust). You really do need a soil test or you're just guessing Smiling A soil test doesn't just tell you if something is deficient but also tells you if something is too high and therefore might cause problems.

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
Feb 17, 2016 5:10 PM CST
Due to all the leaves (tons) I have added to this particular area, I can't imagine it being short any minerals or potassium. However, due to the very wet conditions and the large amounts of rain we have had over the past several months (plus all the tons or high carbon organic material) I can be almost certain I am very short in nitrogen here. Yes, a soil test and a plant test would be best (I agree) but right now in this location I need to get them fertilized. I should have done the tests earlier (maybe next year)?
Name: Fred Manning
Lillian Alabama

Charter ATP Member Region: Gulf Coast I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Seller of Garden Stuff Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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spunky1
Feb 18, 2016 6:40 AM CST
If you soak the ground where you want to test you don't have to do the jar thing. I test mine right after watering, you need to test in more than one place in the bed to get an average reading.
Name: DAVID or PRUUNR RETALLICK
MILLBROOK ONTARIO CANADA (Zone 5b)
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DAVIDRETALLICK
Feb 18, 2016 7:22 AM CST
Have used Milorganite now for 3 years on ALL perennials, here in ZONE 5B. Have never taken a soil test in my life, just don't want to be bothered.Clay type soil with pine mulch covering 50 % of the daylilies and the rest have mushroom and compost added alternate years. Milorganite just sprinkled around plants in late APRIL or early MAY. Have great plants and don't intend to change.

Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
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Hemlady
Feb 18, 2016 7:24 AM CST
I don't do soil tests either and last year I had more rebloom than I have ever had in my 20 plus years of growing. I use Milorganite in the spring and a slow release 10-10-10 all purpose fertilizer made by Scotts. I may add alphalfa pellets and give them a try.
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Feb 18, 2016 8:17 AM CST
TBH I haven't had a formal soil test done either (I did once play around with a kit years and years ago) but I have had a leaf tissue analysis, which showed that although I hadn't fertilized the daylilies (other than maybe some manure from the barn some significant time prior) they were maxxed out in NPK (found out that they were deficient in manganese though, which was causing the interveinal chlorosis that was why I did the test).

But I've heard of several people who ran into problems with their daylilies, got a soil test, and were told to stop fertilizing immediately because they were causing excesses, especially P. So I always recommend a soil test as much for that reason as anything since excesses of some nutrients can cause deficiencies of others. Also some daylily cultivars are fussy about pH and don't like it too high. But Larry is right, the nutrient most likely to need adding if anything does is nitrogen. What I meant was that a "normal" lawn fertilizer recommendation without a soil test would be nearer Fred's ratio.

Bear in mind that both Milorganite and alfalfa pellets need release by microorganisms before you'll get all of the N out of them in a form that plants can use.

There was a study on the amount of specific nutrients a daylily did best on as far as number of flowers was concerned, if I recall correctly the ratio (not analysis) was close to Fred's, but as far as I recall this was in containers (would have to check if anyone is interested) and therefore not useful if you are growing in soil with an undetermined nutrient status. The pH can also safely be lower in soilless media than native soil.
Name: Fred Manning
Lillian Alabama

Charter ATP Member Region: Gulf Coast I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Seller of Garden Stuff Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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spunky1
Feb 19, 2016 6:46 AM CST
I have always said if what your doing works and your happy with whatever your growing don't change. What works for me on the Gulf Coast may not work for you.
I also use Milorganite, but only when I put the baby seedlings in the ground to keep the rabbits from eating them.
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
Feb 19, 2016 6:52 AM CST
spunky1
Well being the majority of my daylilies are in a bog(constantly very wet) I guess I can just poke the probes into the soil and get a reading. I will do that this morning and report back!
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
Feb 19, 2016 8:18 AM CST
Just went out and tested the ph and fertility of my soil with my three pronged PH meter. Let me state right up front I have no confidence in this thing at all. My PH tested right at 7 and my soil fertility very low.
Now I could be wrong, but the reason I have no faith in these readings is because no matter where I stuck the thing I got almost identical readings (maybe just a fraction off in either direction).
After testing about half a dozen places in the bog I moved up the hill, seedling bed, vegetable bed, rose bed and still everywhere read the same. The bog was as usual very wet, as I moved up the hill naturally things got drier. I left the probes in the soil for over a minute each time, and cleaned the probes after each reading.
[Last edited by Seedfork - Feb 19, 2016 8:32 AM (+)]
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Feb 19, 2016 9:41 AM CST
@Seedfork
Got any new potting soil? You could compare that with the garden bed soils. I think if all the tests give the same result when compared to bagged potting soil, then the results are questionable. IMO only.
Donald
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
Feb 19, 2016 10:04 AM CST
Seedfork said:
Now I could be wrong, but the reason I have no faith in these readings is because no matter where I stuck the thing I got almost identical readings (maybe just a fraction off in either direction).
.


Depends how much of a fraction, since the pH scale is logarithmic (each point 10X different from the next one etc.). If the probe can be inserted in liquid (some say not to) try it in vinegar and then milk.

Name: Louise Alley
Central Maine, Waterville (Zone 5a)
BillAlleysDLs
Feb 19, 2016 10:15 AM CST
Here is a brew/info. Bill used and shared: Daylilies are survivors! Like all of us they do respond with preferred conditions. Some preferences include a soil pH between 5.5 and 7. Ideal is 6. – 6.5. They have deep roots so like soil tilled 18” to 24” deep with organic material added. Also they are heavy feeders.*1 Here is an organic brew that works well for many growers.

Receipt for alfalfa tea:*2
In a 5 gallon pail add 4 cups of Alfalfa pellets and fill the pail with water. Stir it 3 times daily and let it brew for 3 days to a week. Keep it covered. Be sure the alfalfa pellets are dissolved. When you are ready to fertilize add 1/3 Cup of Epson Salts, ½ tablespoon of iron chelate and ¼ Cup of fish emulsion. Stir very well. Use a small pail or pan. Dip in and apply about a gallon of brew to large daylily clumps and about ½ gallon to smaller clumps. Apply this monthly and stop by early August.
Probable results are a more rapid increase in clump size which will lead to more and larger flowers, and expanded root system, and plants breaking dormancy earlier. This also means dividing your clumps more often.

*1 from Daylilies, The Perfect Perennial, by Lewis and Nancy Hill, Storey Communications, Inc.: 1991.

*2 From Ted White’s submission to the Daylily Robin on 1/11/08 I go with(Maine)
I go with Milorganite and alphafa meal a couple of times a year and plant in about a foot of compost. It seems to work for me.

Name: Amanda
St Louis Metro (Zone 6b)
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Badcat
Feb 19, 2016 10:55 AM CST
Great Info Bill, I do the tea with Rabbit Manure in the Spring.. Summer I just sprinkle a handful around the base since the tea...well...itll knock your socks off haha. Veg beds get filled up all winter as does the compost bin.

Anyways if you think its Nitrogen, Its a good solution. Highest in Nitrogen you can get from Live Stock, Cheap or Free, Not messy, and its a cold manure. Can you tell I love it??

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