Dan Trimmer had a great article in the AHS Journal, Winter 2012, on “Proliferations and Air Layering,” demonstrating how some people keep the proliferations in water for them to grow roots, but we leave them on the scape for as long as possible before we plant them in soil.
First, we scout for proliferations. Some are easy to see, while others hide way down near the base of the scape. Contrary to popular belief, there does not need to be a bract for a proliferation to grow, at least not from what I have observed. Once we find the prolif, we check to see whether it has roots or not. If it doesn’t and if the scape is still green, then the prolif will stay put for now. If there is a good root system, or if the scape is completely brown, we will cut the scape and plant the prolif.
You can pot up the prolif or plant it right next to the mother plant. Just make sure that it can get sunlight and is not shaded too much or covered by the mama plant. Most of the time, I pot them up, as I am usually short on space because of the mother plant. What I do is walk around with a 5-gallon nursery pot and a paint marker.
With the paint marker, I write the name of the daylily on the foliage of the prolif. Then I just throw it in the nursery pot and move on to the next plant that has prolifs. This is good if you have a lot of plants and a lot of prolifs. You won’t have to keep walking back and forth to your potting area and labeling them, and it keeps you from getting the cultivars mixed up.
If the prolif has more than one fan growing, I will write the name on each one in case it happens to fall off the scape.
In the photos below, the first photo shows a prolif that is blooming size and actually has a scape growing from it with a bloom. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have cut this particular one because the roots weren’t that long, but I broke the scape, so I had to take it. The second photo shows how we would like to have the roots look before we cut it.
What I try to do is cut the scape so it leaves about 3” of scape above and below the prolif. This will give you something on top to hold onto when pushing it into the soil, and the bottom part will help stabilize the prolif in the soil until it has time to grow deeper roots.
I have already mixed some alfalfa pellets, chicken litter, and slow-release fertilizer into the bottom soil in the pot. After I have the prolif in the soil, I will add more alfalfa pellets, slow-release fertilizer, chicken litter, and some quick-release fertilizer and then fill with more soil. You can just leave this as a top dressing, but I prefer to cover it with a little soil to help keep the flies and gnats down. Then I write a label and stick in the pot.
Easy and worry free!