Daylilies forum: Need HELP...How to compost discarded daylilies

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Name: Sue Petruske
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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petruske
Jul 11, 2019 10:57 PM CST
I MUST decrease my daylily beds as well as seedling beds.

I often hear that (especially seedlings) are "going to the compost pile. How does one go about doing this? What do you need to add to the compost pile along with the daylilies. I imagine something else needs to be added. Something dry that would keep the pile from molding? Cover/not cover?

You may need a little input from me to know how to answer my questions:
1. Do you have a sunny space to build the pile.
Answer: I can find one.
2. Do you have the means to "turn" the pile.
Answer: Only by hand (well, with a fork...of course).
3. How many DL's are you disposing of?
Answer: At least a few hundred. Mostly seedlings but some registered also.
4. Have you tried to give them away?
Answer: Yes, but I've run out of people to give them to. AND it takes FOREVER to accomplish the task that way.
Name: Mary
Crown Point, Indiana (Zone 5b)
josieskid
Jul 12, 2019 4:12 AM CST
"(well, with a fork...of course)" Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing
Name: Davi (Judy) Davisson
Sherrills Ford, NC (Zone 7a)
Davi
Jul 12, 2019 4:35 AM CST
I don't know how other people do it, but I pick a place in my wooded area where it is shady and just throw them in a heap. The general idea is to keep the pile moist so that they decompose so I throw liveheads, deadheads, and all those zucchini that got too big on the same heap. Pine needles fall from the trees and cover the heap...all gone! I'm not composting to reuse the resulting soil....just getting rid of thousands of unloved seedlings and filling a hole in the woods at the same time.
Name: Sue Petruske
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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petruske
Jul 12, 2019 11:24 AM CST
Davi, Thank You!
That sounds good. But I do hope to create something good that I can reuse in the gardens in the future.

Being able to throw the deadheads on the pile would INDEED be a PLUS. I've tried to compost them (on a very small pile) in the past but they are just too wet and it only rotted. I know I need to add dry material. Don't know if I'd get some straw from a neighboring farm (I live in a farming community). I think marsh hay would be the best but I don't know where I could get that. Marsh hay is supposed to be fairly seed/weed free (if there even is such a thing as weed free).

If I could maybe put a layer of daylilies then a layer of straw (or whatever I come up with) and just repeat that. Throw deadheads in whenever, which would become daily. During peak season it's not unusual to have a 5-gallon pail full every day.

Is it best in the shade??? Is it best in the sun??? Is it even possible to layer somehow without the need to turn???
Should I cover it or just leave it open to the air as Davi does???

Love to hear from more people and how they do it. Thank You!
Name: Roger & Karen
Birmingham, Al (Zone 7a)
Daylilies Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Alabama Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers Seed Starter
Diggerofdirt
Jul 12, 2019 4:26 PM CST
We either leave them on concrete, give away, or drown. Dont leave on ground they will root in place.
Every home needs a daylily, and every daylily needs a home.
Name: Daniel Erdy
Catawba SC (Zone 7b)
Pollen collector Fruit Growers Permaculture Hybridizer Plant and/or Seed Trader Organic Gardener
Daylilies Region: South Carolina Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Photography Herbs Region: United States of America
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ediblelandscapingsc
Jul 12, 2019 5:29 PM CST
If you can not stay on top of turning your pile often they are hard to compost. It always seems like the ones we don't want are the aggressive growers and I promise you instead of a compost pile you'll have a mound of daylilies in a few months if you dont keep it hot.
Karen aka Kousa came up with a great idea of covering the pile with a tarp. I think this would work great but I think it will take a full year for them to die. I've heard of plants getting moved and stored in bags for 6 months and still survive. I've tossed 2 and 3 fan seedlings in empty plant pots with the intention of pitching them and find them a month or so later with all the tall foliage gone but 10 or 12 new fans sprouting from the crown with no soil in the pot.
Edited to add I dont use my compost made here for my daylilies I use it when planting new fruit trees. I buy compost from a company called palmetto supreme by the dump truck load for my daylilies. You dont want to be spreading anything using compost dirived from the same plants you are trying to grow.
­čî┐A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered­čî┐
[Last edited by ediblelandscapingsc - Jul 12, 2019 5:34 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue Petruske
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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petruske
Jul 12, 2019 7:40 PM CST
Wow, I never thought about them rooting and growing, but certainly makes sense. Definitely can cover them.

I think I'll be tossing them into the woods at the back of our property. Perhaps they would grow and keep the deer fed and away from my gardens. Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Wouldn't that be wonderful? Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing

I wish I could give more away. No one wants to do the work. I've given daylilies and many iris away to friends and I'm guessing that only about 10% of the people take care of them. I don't know anyone that has a passion for daylilies like I do. I even tried to get our local FFA teacher to come look at my gardens. I wanted to suggest the kids could come and dig them up, I'd give them a demonstration of how to plant them, and they could plant them in rows and sell them to make money for the FFA. For this I would have given them registered DL's only. The teacher never called back to set up an appointment. Guess I'm getting too old, I thought it would be a good learning experience for them as well as making a little cash for their work.
Name: TT
MS Gulf Coast
Bromeliad Composter Container Gardener
hiyall
Jul 12, 2019 8:20 PM CST
Hi Sue, I can't imagine having so many daylilies to discard. I will love to get a daylily bed started. I planted some from daylily group. Then I added other plants that became invasive so will try to sort them.

I haven't composted daylilies. I have compost barrel on frame so it can be turned. Saw directions on computer. Main problem is the robber in top of barrel stretched. replaced it with wood. I put plant and kitchen waste in there, avoid meat and dairy. I put coffee grounds sometimes you can get more at coffee shop. I add egg shells and banana peels and green and brown leaves. Have also added corn husks grocery saved to feed pigs! I don't follow exact recipe. Haven't turned it much lately due to rubber stretching
Have barrel in area to get sun because heat aids composting. You can find much info on line. Throwing them into woods sounds like good idea if they don't attrect deer! Smiling
Name: TT
MS Gulf Coast
Bromeliad Composter Container Gardener
hiyall
Jul 12, 2019 9:18 PM CST
@petruske, I will love to see pics of your garden if you have some to post. I thought the idea of sharing them with school was a great idea!
Name: Sue Petruske
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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petruske
Jul 12, 2019 9:53 PM CST
Here are pictures of some of the beds (during the iris season, although you can see daylilies in and around everything. I don't have any pictures of the North and East sides of the house.

Thumb of 2019-07-13/petruske/f433f1

Thumb of 2019-07-13/petruske/0cb88e

Thumb of 2019-07-13/petruske/191ddc

Thumb of 2019-07-13/petruske/871d1b

Thumb of 2019-07-13/petruske/625ea4

Thumb of 2019-07-13/petruske/e22553

Thumb of 2019-07-13/petruske/8c6185

Thumb of 2019-07-13/petruske/0f8a93 This is the seedling bed I need to empty. 2018 picture

Thumb of 2019-07-13/petruske/cf9b2d This is a 2019 picture of the same bed before bloom time. This is its 3rd year.

Name: Ginny G
Central Iowa (Zone 5a)
Plant Addict!!
Daylilies Peonies Enjoys or suffers cold winters Irises Hibiscus Enjoys or suffers hot summers
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Legalily
Jul 12, 2019 9:59 PM CST
Sue last year I threw some I didn't want into the edge of our timber where I throw other refuse from the gardens. They bloomed today D'Oh!
Be a person that makes others feel special.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Daylilies Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
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Seedfork
Jul 12, 2019 9:59 PM CST
Beautiful beds!
Name: Marcia
Rochester, ny, zone 6 (Zone 6b)
Dragonflies Dog Lover
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DaylilyDazzled
Jul 12, 2019 10:11 PM CST
I just throw mine in with all my other weeds etc. and dump in the back of my property. Now I have only had a few here and there not 100's. I have had a couple grow back, most don't get scapes because it is mostly shady, woodsy. I did notice this year one is going to have blooms. I could just dump more "stuff" on it but figured if it wants to grow that bad who am I to stop it. :whistling
Now, I also have gout weed, ostrich ferns, & bugle weed all growing in the areas I dump. Thumbs down I keep trying to dump more on them to get them to die, but they just keep on growing bigger it is amazing. I'm just glad they aren't still in my gardens doing that.
Name: Steve
Port Orchard, WA (Zone 8b)
BrooklynStart
Jul 13, 2019 1:11 AM CST
Reply to your first post:
Something dry that can be added to a compost pile is shredded paper--junk mail. I add shredded paper to grass clippings and often can find no sight of the paper in 1 to 2 weeks--still see the grass clipping, but I bury them the next year.
If you cover the material, you would be doing anaerobic composting, that is without air. When I composted grass clippings using an anaerobic composter, I always had a smelly mess that needed to be buried--it would then be great food for the soil.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Daylilies Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Jul 13, 2019 5:42 AM CST
petruske,
I see a lot of trees in your photos, what do you do with all the leaves. I collect tons of them every year for use in the compost piles.
Name: Valerie
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Irises Roses Peonies Butterflies Birds
Bee Lover Region: Canadian Ponds Garden Art Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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touchofsky
Jul 13, 2019 6:16 AM CST
Your gardens are gorgeous, Sue! Lovey dubby

My compost area has a lot of plants that have escaped and are thriving. It has turned into quite a pretty area Hilarious!

I am facing the same dilemma as you this year ... what to do with unwanted seedlings. I may donate some of the nicer ones to our local church for their annual plant sale. A few of the others I may plant along our laneway. Then I will have to compost some of the less attractive ones.
Name: TT
MS Gulf Coast
Bromeliad Composter Container Gardener
hiyall
Jul 13, 2019 6:24 AM CST
@petruske, thanks for posting your composting question and pretty pictures! The daylilies are lovely and beds are beautiful and so well maintained!

I forget about adding grass clippings though we usually let ours go back into lawn. I do add paper to mine sometimes including coffee filters and paper towels. I think important factor for compost is carbon/nitrogen balance.

I put Louisiana Iris and crocosmia and gladiolus in bed where I planted daylilies. Now I have lots of green leaves, no beautiful blooms! Thumbs down
Name: Davi (Judy) Davisson
Sherrills Ford, NC (Zone 7a)
Davi
Jul 13, 2019 7:44 AM CST
Daniel made one of the most important points when he went back and edited his post adding this sentence:

YOU DON'T WANT TO BE SPREADING ANYTHING USING COMPOST DERIVED FROM THE SAME PLANTS YOU ARE TRYING TO GROW

So if the purpose of your compost heap is to gain nice compost for refilling your seedling beds, you should not do that. It is common sense that you would not compost your old diseased tomato plants along with some bug eaten rotten tomatoes and then use the compost to grow tomatoes. Daylilies are incredibly hard to get rid of completely...they still try to grow for years. Just yesterday I dug a purple daylily that was growing right next to a clump of one of my orange introductions....something was left behind when I used that bed 3 years ago as a seedling bed and a tiny piece of one of my discards had lived that long and was now a single fan big enough to bloom. I use my daylily compost heap mostly when I need some extra dirt for something else....like filling a hole where a tree stumped rotted...but never for growing daylilies. There is a general rule, I think, that the only daylilies that struggle to live is the single fan you paid $150 for recently, but the ones you throw on the compost heap give it their all for 3 or more years.

I'm being the negative Nancy again in not recommending straw as a dry material. I made that mistake already thinking straw would be a good winter mulch for those fancy Florida evergreens that I was trying to grow in zone 5. Well, as soon as I got it all down, the ducks from the nearby lake found it and waddled around spreading it all over the place looking for seedheads. They smashed all the daylilies and then a big wind came along and blew it all over to the neighbors yard! The next spring I had sprouts just everywhere from the seeds the ducks pushed into the soil. Never again!!

I also recommend shredded leaves or a bag of two of pine bark mulch added to the pile if you have a use for the compost other than growing daylilies.

Like Marcia, the daylilies try to grow in my wooded area but it is too shady for them to bloom so I just pile more on top. I have some nice privacy berms along my lot line from years of piling on.
Name: James
California (Zone 8b)
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JamesT
Jul 13, 2019 9:25 AM CST
BrooklynStart said:If you cover the material, you would be doing anaerobic composting, that is without air. When I composted grass clippings using an anaerobic composter, I always had a smelly mess that needed to be buried--it would then be great food for the soil.

Compost piles are often covered loosely in order to exclude digging animals, keep materials in place, and to regulate moisture. It shouldn't seal the pile to the point where anaerobic decomposition occurs.
Name: Steve
Port Orchard, WA (Zone 8b)
BrooklynStart
Jul 13, 2019 12:07 PM CST
James, I agree with you totally. In the 1980s, a neighbor, who was an engineer at the San Diego dump, gave me a ANAEROBIC COMPOSTER. It looked like a 32 gallon plastic trash can with ITS BOTTOM CUT OUT and a lid that sealed rather tightly. These were free giveaways from the dump, and the instructions said that the bottom cut out was to allow moisture to drain and worms to feed. By the time it got half ful it started smelling. Ever since, I am leary of covering compost piles, including loosely covering.

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