Daylilies forum→Did poorly last year

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Eastern Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
Jun 5, 2020 6:53 AM CST
Hazelcrestmikeb said:JSF67 is your plant a named variety ?

Is "Big Time Happy" (mentioned at the start of this thread) not the variety name?

I googled that and many nurseries sell it and link to

which says the bloom time is "extra early".

The nursery in came from says:
"This daylily is an enhanced version of the best-selling variety Happy Returns. It has the same lemon-yellow flowers with ruffled edges, but at 4" across they are almost an inch larger. Blooming starts in early summer and continues right to frost. The 18" tall plants are ideal for flower beds, landscaping, edging and containers."

Eastern Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
Jun 23, 2020 6:24 AM CST
Some Daylilies (I think) volunteered in a different part of my garden.
Thumb of 2020-06-23/jsf67/f36a0a
When I bought the house (30+ years ago) there were two big Iris patches, with a different Iris flower color in this patch vs. the one that survived. No, I would not confuse Iris for other plants while flowering, even though I did confuse that when they were emerging.

Neither Iris patch came back well on their own, even the first year after I bought the house.

Years later, I nursed both Iris patches back to health with weeding, watering, fertilizer and animal repellent. At that point, they were still all Irises and still one color here and another color in the healthier patch.

Then for many years, this patch started well every spring, then was eaten to the ground by some animal (despite various animal repellents) before any flower stalks appeared. During all those years, somehow all the plants were replaced by volunteers without my realizing. This year, somehow this patch hasn't been eaten yet.

I was confused to see the one flower stalk was the same Iris color as the healthier patch, rather than the original color. Then even more surprised to see the much later emerging stalks aren't Irises at all.

These volunteers look a lot like the Daylilies I planted last year. Three out of five of the ones I planted finally have flower stalks, though not as tall as the flower stalks in this patch.

Maybe the original Irises had a Daylily that never flowered mixed in. Maybe all these volunteers were by rhizome (or whatever similar process) and gradually replaced the Irises during all the years that an animal ate the whole patch to the ground every year before flower stalks. I hope I finally get to see the flowers.

[Last edited by jsf67 - Jun 23, 2020 6:26 AM (+)]
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Eastern Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
Jul 5, 2020 6:02 AM CST
One of those 5 Daylilies I bought/planted last year finally has a bloom (opened last night).

Thumb of 2020-07-05/jsf67/88893b

Another 3 of those 5 have buds. The ones elsewhere in the yard, that just appeared somehow, had buds a bit sooner and have more buds on taller stems. But those have been sitting around looking like about to open for a week, while this one (above photo) went from tiny bud to open in the same week.

One of those five I planted is unfortunately repeating last year: quickly grew this big, then stopped and nothing more happened:

Thumb of 2020-07-05/jsf67/c45380

Name: Dave
Wood Co TX & Huron Co MI
Greenhouse Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Garden Photography Hybridizer Region: Michigan
Irises Hostas Region: Texas Daylilies Peonies
Jul 5, 2020 6:17 AM CST
Thinking might be a late bloomer or just not ready 🤔 to bloom yet.
Life is better at the lake.
Name: Mike
Hazel Crest, IL (Zone 5b)
"Have no patience for bare ground"
Jul 28, 2020 1:04 PM CST
Love that pretty yellow bloom.
"Life as short as it is, is amazing, isn't it. MichaelBurton
"Be your best you". "Mikedon" on the LA.
Name: Marcia
Rochester, ny, zone 6 (Zone 6b)
Dragonflies Dog Lover
Jul 28, 2020 8:12 PM CST
Congrats on the blooms. They should do even better next year as they mature.
Name: James
California (Zone 8b)
Aug 15, 2020 5:09 PM CST

The plants look like they're coming along well. Bloom can be fleeting on new plants, particularly because daylilies that have been stored dry in bags for extended periods of time tend to take longer to get their feet under them.

In my experience, daylily specialists are the best place to buy plants. They'll be dug fresh, (and at the proper time of year), shipped directly to you, and you can replant them quickly. Also, frequently the daylilies at big-box stores have been mass-produced by way of tissue culture, where genetic anomalies (sports or mutations) can develop.

The old saying about perennial plants tends to hold somewhat for daylilies too. "First year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap." Even under the best conditions, daylilies will tend to put their initial growth into a substantial root system, which is why they can look a little anemic the first season. Just make sure they get plenty of water and steady fertilization.

This is about the best article I've seen on daylily fertilization.

Sun is critical for daylily performance, but 6 hours of direct light will grow healthy, strong plants. When you say 60% sun, is that direct sun for 60% of the day, or 60% light intensity, such as light coming through the canopy of a tree?

A "fan" is the group of leaves emerging from an individual growing point, also known as a crown. When you're looking at a barefoot daylily, the crown will be at the base of each fan, with roots radiating outward from it. There's a cutaway view of a daylily crown on the Daylily Society dictionary page;
Eastern Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
Aug 19, 2020 12:38 PM CST
JamesT said:@jsf67
The plants look like they're coming along well. Bloom can be fleeting on new plants,

As it turned out, the first blooming one of the purchased (Big Time Happy) bloomed almost every day and up to three blooms together some days for a fairly long period.

Three of the others also bloomed quite a few time each in the middle of the period the best one had. Only one of the five repeated the first year.

The other Daylilies, that just appeared in another spot, had much nicer flowers and were off to a much nicer start (far more buds and sooner) but I only ever got to see two of its flowers. Right after the first bloom a deer (I assume, though I never saw it) ate the tops off of all but one stem plus half (all the larger buds) off the last. After one bloom from that last stem (with four more big buds having developed) it was also eaten. That was despite application of multiple different deer repellents plus Miloganite (which deer are supposed to dislike).

This deer was weirdly picky in having a very high minimum height for what it ate (unlike all the other situations in which deer have eaten my plants).

It ate the tops of all but the shortest Hosta flowering stems, and it ate the buds from the nicer Daylilies. But it 100% ignored the Big Time Happy blooms and buds, while eating Hosta flowers six feet away. The Big Time Happy had much shorter flower stems than you would have guessed from the description by the nursery, as well as much shorter than the nicer Daylilies and the Hostas. I guess short is better than eaten, though I doubt that weird deer behavior will be repeated next year.

Sun is critical for daylily performance, but 6 hours of direct light will grow healthy, strong plants. When you say 60% sun, is that direct sun for 60% of the day, or 60% light intensity, such as light coming through the canopy of a tree?

I was averaging as well as estimating. Nothing in my garden gets 6 hours of direct sun. I was adding together a few hours of direct sun with more hours of filtered and some daylight hours in full shade to estimate 60%. It also changes quite a bit from week to week as the seasonal angle affects which distant tall tree blocks (or sometimes doesn't) the morning sun.

A couple days ago, I transplanted about a third of the nicer Daylilies from where they appeared, to a very steep (a bit steeper than 45 degrees) small slope above a retaining wall above my driveway. I'm pretty sure the deer won't go there (I used a smaller ladder up the retaining wall to transplant into a slope too steep to stand on).

I intended to take over half from the middle of what seemed to be growing as a thin line. Inserting and using a giant pry bar to take out the piece I wanted caused an amazingly clean chunk to pop out with virtually zero appearance or sound/feel of ripping roots. But the shape below ground wasn't as appeared from above. So I got about a third (having aimed for over half) and from outside what I had thought was a thin line. So I still have a thin line of fans in the original location.

Having gotten a chunk out clean with near zero root damage (something normally outside my skill set) I decided not to press my luck by trying this year for another chunk.

Before digging that out, I prepared the hole for it to go into. After half an inch of topsoil that I had been failing to grow ferns in for years, I found a mix of mainly gravel, with poor looking dirt, plus little chunks of concrete (bits cleaned from the chute when concrete was used here 60 years ago). So I dug a much bigger hole than first planned and had to find filler material: Several years ago, I accepted a double size truckload of free "woodchips" a large section of which was mainly bad smelling shredded green leaves, with only a small fraction woodchips. I dumped that in the corner of my property and forgot about it until recently. So 15 gallons of that was what I had available to fill the hole. It had evolved into about 2/3 wood chips plus 1/3 organic dirt. That is more wood and less dirt than optimal, but sure beats the 2/3 gravel and 1/3 clay that I took out.

I'll read that stuff you linked (or any replies here) to figure out what to add and when. The dirt that chunk took with it from the original location is almost all decomposed pine needles. Below and around it is now that mix of wood chips with very decomposed green leaves (leaves that decompose green are very different chemically from those that brown before falling. But I don't know if that still matters a few years later).
[Last edited by jsf67 - Aug 19, 2020 1:00 PM (+)]
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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
Aug 19, 2020 1:04 PM CST
I could not get a good visual image in my mind of the slope you planted your daylilies on. Just keep an eye on the new plants because often things planted on slopes drain very fast and the plants will often dry out very quickly and the rain just tends to run off very quickly.
Eastern Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
Aug 19, 2020 1:28 PM CST
I was also worried about water reaching the transplanted daylilies. I tried to deal with that well. But it is hard to be sure.

On most of that slope (only slightly less steep than the daylily spot) I was semi successful in growing ferns that need a lot of water. The key to that was a thick layer of pine needles stored dry over the winter and added in the spring. That slows the water enough to get it to sink in so it visibly is not running over the top of the retaining wall onto the driveway (as it did before I intervened).

For the daylilies, I placed the chunk nearly at the down slope end of the big hole I dug, so there is fairly impermeable soil directly down slope and a lot of the very permeable mix of wood chips and organic soil up slope (and to either side). So any up slope water should soak in up slope of the plant and hopefully some of that reaches the plant and/or the roots grow into it from the wetter up slope side of the original chunk. The decomposed pine needle dirt that came with it was annoyingly non permeable to manual watering (water just falls off it down slope). Normally a decomposed pine needle soil is easy to water. But that should do no harm for natural watering which happens over a longer time period so it will easily soak into decomposed pine needles even at a 45 degree slope.

For excess water issues, the hole was excessively deep with super permeable wood chip soil under the transplant (straight down vertically, rather than down slope). That will quickly soak up any excess water and I hope (not really sure) wick it back up slowly as the soil above dries.

For manual watering, this will just be one of those spots that I need to wet first and then water other areas and then come back to give it more. I don't know if it is soil specific, but I find a lot of slopes just reject water if you just added it when the slope is dry. But if you wet the slope, then let that wetness work for 5 to 10 minutes, the slope will then more easily absorb water (until the surface dries again). That certainly fit my results in watering this spot after transplant.
[Last edited by jsf67 - Aug 19, 2020 1:29 PM (+)]
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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
Aug 19, 2020 2:19 PM CST
Sounds like you gave a lot of thought to the watering problems, wish you great success on the slope!

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