Water Beds for Daylilies?!?!?!

Posted by @fiwit on
Until fall 2013, the only water beds I'd ever heard of were for humans. Then Daylily hybridizer Lee Pickles described the water beds he made for his daylilies, and I knew I had to try it for myself.

When I finally gave in to Hemeraholism, I started building raised beds for my new loves, but a twisted knee sidelined me for an entire season, so my recent purchases spent summer and fall in pots in my driveway. Winter was almost here, and while GA winters are usually mild, I had read horror stories about potted Daylilies dying over winter. But what could I do? My bum knee made digging or planting a forbidden pleasure, and my wallet laughed (or cried) whenever I contemplated hiring someone else to do the work.

As so often happens, my answer came during my local Daylily Society meeting. Guest speaker Lee Pickles mentioned that he had successfully overwintered potted daylilies in "waterbeds."

Waterbeds? For Daylilies?

As you can imagine, Daylily Waterbeds are not the same as those beds some of us might remember from the 1980s. For one thing, they're outside. And unlike the human water beds, in a Daylily waterbed the potted plant sits *in* the water. Lee said he got the idea from Tommy Maddox in MS. Lee is 100 miles north of me, so I figured that if his Daylilies could survive a waterbed winter, so could mine. I bought some 6-mil plastic, cleared a spot on my driveway, and set to work.

Lee used 2x4s to frame his bed. I had some left-over landscape timbers from my raised bed projects, so I turned them on their sides and fastened them at the corners to create an 8x8 bed. Then I placed a sheet of 6-mil clear plastic on the ground inside the frame, and added my pots of plants. My next step was to add water, and I watched the water quickly fill the spaces between the pots, rising to a uniform height before gleefully spilling over the front wall of the bed. This led to my discovering the first truism of outdoor water beds: Use Level Ground. My bed was at the top of my driveway, in front of the garage, and the driveway slopes. I solved the level ground issue by adding a second landscape timber to the front wall of the bed.

The next day, there was still a trail of water trickling across my driveway, which helped me discover the second truism of outdoor water beds: Make sure you cleared your bed location. I had left some leaves on the concrete under the plastic, and didn't realize there were sweetgum balls hiding under them, which had poked tiny holes in the plastic.

When I replaced the holey plastic, I invented my third truism: 12-mil is better than 6. I folded the sheet of plastic over on itself for double protection, and crossed my fingers. The next morning, the bed was still full of water, and the driveway was still dry -- Success!

The original 8x8 water bed:
Thumb of 2014-03-29/fiwit/3ef7e6

Fast forward to spring: My 8x8 water bed carried approximately 100 potted Daylilies through our recent winter, even though there were at least two occasions when the water in it became ice. I now have a second water bed, this one 4x4, holding around 30 pots. This time, I took photos of the construction process.

Thumb of 2014-03-29/fiwit/14fff3 Thumb of 2014-03-29/fiwit/d7d692 Thumb of 2014-03-29/fiwit/590084 Thumb of 2014-03-29/fiwit/3607ee

As you can see from the photos, building a water bed is easy and inexpensive. The biggest challenge is finding flat space that has the sun requirements you need. If you live north of zone 7b, you might want to do it in your greenhouse, rather than in your yard, for added winter protection. Lee Pickles has his in a greenhouse.

When thinking about water beds for your Daylilies (or other potted plants), guard against the two most common problems.

Truism number four -- Don't drown your plants! If the pots look like this, either remove them from the water bed, or put them on a platform of some sort.
Thumb of 2014-03-29/fiwit/dc5088
Lee Pickles said he only uses one inch of water in his beds. My beds are open to the elements, so it's harder to control the water depth.

And Truism number five - AVOID MOSQUITOS!!! A daylily water bed could quickly become a mosquito breeding ground. I'm avoiding that by using Mosquito Dunks

Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Untitled by Sandman Apr 20, 2014 6:03 PM 6
water beds for daylilies by bjlingel Apr 12, 2014 7:45 PM 1
I do not get it. LOL. by virginiarose Apr 11, 2014 5:25 PM 23
More Lessons Learned.... by fiwit Apr 11, 2014 4:27 PM 3

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