Daylilies forum: Growing Daylilies in Pots

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Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
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Natalie
Sep 13, 2012 10:26 AM CST
We were starting to discuss this on the "Welcome Newbies & Lurkers" thread, and it was suggested that a new thread may be a good idea.

If you grow daylilies in pots, please give us your input on it! I don't personally grow any in pots, but I think it's a great idea! And as Jan mentioned, it would be a great way to rearrange them until they look right! Wish I had thought of that!

Is there anything special that needs to be done to keep them alive? Any special fertilizing needs? Any benefits or disadvantages? We'd love some input on the subject!

As always, photos are appreciated, and enjoyed by everyone!
Natalie
Name: Paula Shaw
Whittemore, Michigan (Zone 5a)
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petalsnsepals
Sep 13, 2012 11:40 AM CST
I have 1/2 whiskey barrells along side of my sidewalk with stella's in them along with other perennials and they do fine. I also have a couple of tiny varieties that say they will do good in pots even though Ive never actually tried it. Eenie Weenie and Iddy Biddy Gal are both less than 12" tall and have tiny flowers.
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Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
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Natalie
Sep 13, 2012 1:01 PM CST
One advantage that I've heard of, at least for hybridizers who live in an area that is very hot, is that you can move the ones that you want to hybridize into a cooler spot in the shade, and then put them back out in the garden later in the day, or the next morning. Supposedly, you may have better luck getting seeds to set that way. I haven't tested this myself, but I'd love to know if anyone has tried that and if it worked better.
Natalie
Name: Ann
TN
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farmerbell
Sep 13, 2012 1:21 PM CST
I often grow new spring arrivals in pots during the summer until I find a permanent spot for them. It is my experience that daylilies Increase much quicker when they are in the soil. Maybe it depends on the soil type and the amendments added to the pots.
Ann (farmerbell); TN
Name: Maryl
Oklahoma (Zone 7a)
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Maryl
Sep 13, 2012 1:48 PM CST
I'm certainly not an expert on the subject and look for any new ideas or advice from those who grow daylilies in containers. However, I have been growing the majority of my daylilies in pots now for the last 6 or 7 years and have discovered that growing them this way can be challenging, but also rewarding. One big thing I learned the hard way is that daylilies in pots require (not like, but require) excellent drainage. Especially in winter if you have water accumulating on dormant roots you will have problems with root rot. Same goes for any tuberous bulb really and daylilies are no different in their requirements. The subject of what mixture to grow them in is as varied as people's opinions, but I think I've finally bumbled onto a pretty good mix that allows for
needed drainage. It is composed of sand (builders quality, not play box sand), bark fines, aquarium gravel, perilite and clean well aged compost. I was having a hard time finding bags of "bark fines" locally, so I created my own by screening pine bark mulch myself. The small "leavings" I use in my daylily pots, the larger chunks go out to the garden as mulch. Luckily I have available to me a proprietary potting mix that is basically the aged compost/sand composition, so when I make my batch of potting mix for daylilies, I usually just have to add the perilite, aquarium gravel and bark fines. There have been many dead daylilies that I have learned lessons from over the years, such as my theory on crown rot, and how to overwinter daylilies outdoors etc. But that's it for now........Maryl
[Last edited by Maryl - Jun 24, 2015 12:04 AM (+)]
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Name: Ann
TN
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farmerbell
Sep 13, 2012 2:58 PM CST
Maryl, how often do you fertilize the pot-grown daylilies?
Ann (farmerbell); TN
Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
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tink3472
Sep 13, 2012 6:17 PM CST
We have daylilies in the raised beds mostly but we do have daylilies in pots. These are the ones we sell mainly, but I have snagged quite a few of them and put them out in the hybridizing area to use and left them in pots. Also any that I didn't sell just stay in the pots.

I use the same mixture of pine bark (dime size) and 10% sand that I use in the beds. I just pour sand on a pile of mulch (on the table) and mix all together by hand so it's not an exact 10%; I just eyeball it. I use different size pots, 1 gal, 2 gal, 3 gal, and 5 gal. The 1 gal for seedlings and daylilies that won't be in the pot that long, the 2 and 3 gal for the ones I divided with very large roots, and the 5 gal for larger clumps that I don't have a place for or for the ones I'm growing that I donated to the club, and then the club auction plants.
I fill the pots about 2/3 full with the pine bark/sand mixture then add chicken litter (the dry, already processed kind) and alfalfa pellets then mix in with the soil. I kind of make a mound in the middle the best I can and put the daylily in and backfill a little. I then add the slow release fertilzer, more alfalfa pellets, more chicken litter, a little ironite or epsom salt (whichever I have available at the time) and a pinch of 8-8-8 or 6-6-6 quick release fertilzer (it's pretty much lawn fertilzer and only last I think 30 days maybe less). I don't always use the quick release, but I have been this year because it's here. Then I cover all of that up with the rest of the pine bark. I used to just add all the above and mix in before putting the daylily in the pot but I figured more would make it to the roots if it was above the roots. I also used to just top dress the pot with the extra ingredients but when you pick up one pot in each hand the fertilzer and stuff rolls to one side or falls out of the pot since it leans at an angle when picked up.

I basically treat the potted ones the same as the planted ones except I top dress with alfalfa pellets only 2 times in a year instead of 3-4 for the beds since the foliage gets in the way and it's very back breaking trying to add stuff to the pots. The ones I plant in the beds I add the milorganite into the holes where the pots I will go back and top dress with it. I also fertilize with water soluble (miracle-gro, peters, etc) fertilzer on a regular basis. Lately we have been using Daniels Plant Food, which is 10-4-3 and not the normal ratio we would use, but the daylilies seem to love it and it feeds the soil microbes as well as the plant. We rotate the Miracle-Gro and the Daniels.


Benefits: It's easy to move plants where you need them if hybridizing (and need shade) or if maybe want to get a feel for how things will look in the garden once everything blooms and can move them around to get the look you want.. You can move them when you need to spray weed killer instead of worrying about trying not to spray the plants. Easier to move when needing dividing (unless in a really big pot) instead of having to dig it up.

Disadvantages: Depending on what type of pots you use (especially the black nursery pots) they dry out a lot faster than if in the ground. Also, once the foiliage is fully grown out and covers the pot, if you aren't careful or water long enough, the water will roll off the foliage onto the ground and not in the pot. If hand watering it's best to make 2 rounds with the water because if the mulch/soil is really dry the water just runs down the side and out the holes in the bottom of the pots. It's best to moisten the top layer of soil and then come back and water deeper.
I have also found that if you have A LOT of pots and they are really bunched up together that sometimes the plants get leggy trying to compete with each other for the sun. They will grow just fine in pots (there are a few people here who only grow in pots) as long as they get adequate water. They grow even better if the pots are sitting in/on something that the feeder roots can grow down to to get more moisture. I sit my pots in the raised beds with mulch in them and sometimes when I go to move a pot there is 2 feet of feeder roots growing into the mulch below the pots.

IMHO, they do grow better planted in a bed/ground and spread out better. There's no way that some of my clumps would be as big as they are if they had been planted in a pot. But of course that depends on your soil too. If you have yucky, mucky, thick, dense clay that doesn't drain then they may not fair as well or if there are tree roots sucking up all the nutrients and water (like crepe myrtles do) and so on.
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Name: Juli
(Zone 5b)
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daylily
Sep 14, 2012 3:12 AM CST
Jerry Pate Williams, near Cincinnatti, shared how he kept his home garden looking spectacular. I used to love visiting his home, because the daylilies always looked at their peek. He had a farm out of town where all the daylilies were grown out. He showed me that they were grown in pots, then set in the ground. It has been many years ago since he explained, so my memory might not be perfect... Whistling

At his home display garden, he had one pot in the ground, empty, then would slip the daylily pots into it. They spaced out the in-ground pots perfectly. He would swap out the daylilies that he put in the in-ground pots throughout the bloom season. Mulch covered the tops of the pots. I swear, you would never know they were not planted in the ground.

This meant he always had daylilies looking their best in his home garden.
Name: Fred Manning
Lillian Alabama

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spunky1
Sep 14, 2012 4:33 AM CST
I do most things like Michelle when it comes to pots, except I use 2 gal pots 90% of the time because they will only be in the pots over winter then shipped in the spring. Anything thats going to stay here longer will go in the raised boxes in the display area or the hybridizing area.
I have did the pot in a pot thing in the past and it worked very well. I would use three gallon pots and start with two or three fans so they could stay in place a couple of years before the pots got to crowed and needed devided.

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Mulch to hide the pots
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Final results
Thumb of 2012-09-14/spunky1/5899aa

Name: virginiarose
Virginia
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virginiarose
Sep 14, 2012 5:40 AM CST
The owner of a local nursery does that with Hostas. He has them out front of his house. I thought it was a terrific idea!
You have a huge arbor and pond, do you grow fish?
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood
Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
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tink3472
Sep 14, 2012 6:13 AM CST
I do prefer to use the 2 gal pots like Fred does for the ones just staying over winter. The only reason I am using the 1 gal is because of space. I can fit more into the space I have than with the 2 gal. I'll have to try and remember to take a photo of them today and show you what I'm doing. Once we have all the other beds made I will go back to the 2 gal pots mainly.

One time I did try and plant some daylilies into regular decorative pots, not sure of size but the bigger ones, and the daylilies I had in them did not grow at all. I used miracle-gro potting mix (before I knew about pine bark) and they just wouldn't grow. When I put them in the ground they took off. I don't know what the problem was (I'm sure something I didn't do right)
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[Last edited by tink3472 - Sep 14, 2012 6:36 AM (+)]
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Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
Seller of Garden Stuff Region: United States of America Pollen collector Dragonflies I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Florida
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tink3472
Sep 14, 2012 6:38 AM CST
I'm sure Mona and some others will chime in that grow all of theirs mainly in pots when they get a free moments because there are several of them that do.

MONA where are you girl???? Shrug!
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Name: pam
gainesville fl (Zone 8b)
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gardenglory
Sep 14, 2012 10:09 AM CST
I use mainly pots, and I know Lyle does or did in the past. I dont know why, but when I put them in the ground, they dont last long. I think its too much shade. Anyway, I have a love / hate relationship with the pots, but keep going back to them. The best thing about them, is that you make a few holes, in strategic places, like fred above, or just put them in a decorative pot or w/e, but I just love to bring them out front and have them showing off in certain places when blooming. When its done, just switch it out. Ill bring a blooming pot inside as well for a few days of bloom. I only really do this with the 3-5 gallon pots tho.
Name: Maryl
Oklahoma (Zone 7a)
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Maryl
Sep 14, 2012 1:46 PM CST
The pot in ground method is one many have tried in our heavy clay soil, but for anything other then annuals or short term residency perennials it really isn't a good long term solution. The reason again is drainage. If the pot just sits there surrounded by poorly drained clay soil, eventually the root rot will set in. What you can do is dig down deeper then the bottom of the pot and put a thick layer of sand down under the container while also sloping your excavation area away deeper in front of the pot (water flows downhill) so that you haven't created the infamous bathtub effect. I've done this in my front mixed border and it works well for shallow rooted plants and temporary bulbs such as tulips, lilies, etc. However, eventually roots from the surrounding shrubs/plants find their way into this nice permeable sand and end up poking through the drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Every few years the process needs to be repeated....As to lack of increase, because the daylilies are in pots, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Each one of these pots of mine must be hand watered, and in our droughty, long lasting blast furnace summers, that means that this year and last in particular with only rare exceptions, I have been out there every single day watering pots for months. A friend of mine has set up a permanent watering system for her potted roses, but I use smaller pots (around 10-12 inches) for my daylilies so that (A) I can pick them up by myself (B) I can arrange them as needed, (C) they make division easier. Also, when I had an outbreak of rust this year, having my daylilies in pots was a true blessing. The rusters were easily moved away from my other daylilies or pitched (whichever was called for). In winter if severe temperatures threaten I can haul these pots into my unheated attached garage for shelter. There are advantages as well as disadvantages to daylilies in containers. For me, because of my soil and the reasons I've listed above the pluses outweigh the minuses - as long as I don't overdo it by adding too many daylilies (which is hard when I see all of your gorgeous pictures).....I must say Fred that you have done a really nice job of landscaping with your in ground pots while they wait for shipment. Very pretty arrangement........Maryl
Name: Dot or Dorothy Parker
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
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Ladylovingdove
Sep 14, 2012 2:32 PM CST
I have shown my pots before, as I do grow all mine in pots. I have found that the size that does best for me, since mine are in permanent pots, is the 20" size. This gives them the root space they need to spread out. I do have lots left in the 3 gallon, or 2 gallon, I'm not sure which size they are since they were free from my neighbor. I can't find the fine pines anymore, but I do use half potting soil and half of whatever I can find to mix with it, mostly Garden soil, or something that looks similiar. I ues big bark mulch in the bottom of all my pots, for drainage and also to keep the potting soil from washing out. In the 20" pots I will fill them about 1/3 full with the big bark mulch then the potting soil mix. When the pot is almost full I use timed release fertilizer, around the edges, then fill to the top and add the big bark mulch on the tops also. When spraying for rust I add liquid fertilizer to the water. Other than that, thats all the plant food they get. You must water well all the time as long as they drain well. I have clay soil and growing them in the ground is not good here, plus what flower beds I have are full of tall bearded irises.

Early spring, these are tree size pots, don't know the gallon size, they were free, but they are probably 20" across the tops.
Thumb of 2012-09-14/Ladylovingdove/b1778c

These are brand new pots, that I actually bought, 20" size, with brand new intros this spring.
Thumb of 2012-09-14/Ladylovingdove/06f2bb

I put two varieties to each pot until I see which ones I really like and I am going to keep. This is fine for 2 or three years, until one clump will overtake the other.
Some of these pots are whiskey barrel size, really deep. They are so deep that I filled them half way with big bark mulch. Actually the 20" pots are the best and you can kind of move them around. Those great big pots never move, unless I need to get to something.
Thumb of 2012-09-14/Ladylovingdove/f4ac77

Things that are smaller or that may be temporary go into 3 gallon pots. One thing I don't really like about the big pots is you can't really get a shovel into them to dig out stuff. You have to dig around the clumps by hand, then dig under them and pull them out. Of course the 3 gallon size I just dump out of the pot.

Can't Touch This was a huge single fan when I got it this spring. I put it into a 20" pot with Pirate Moon, which was also a single huge fan. Both of them went nuts. I now have 7 fans of CTT and also PM. Here is CTT blooming on a first flower really happy. This was early spring April 15th, there are many more fans now. This is the new row with new pots.

Thumb of 2012-09-14/Ladylovingdove/00f94a Thumb of 2012-09-14/Ladylovingdove/299788

Can't Touch This and friends, early spring.
Thumb of 2012-09-14/Ladylovingdove/d46220

The same row as the first picture now blooming.
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My pot boutique, some say ghetto, blooming.
Thumb of 2012-09-14/Ladylovingdove/9be95a

I am in north central Texas, most winters are mild here, as was last year. In 2010 we had 12 inches of snow which was unusual for here. I lost a few that year, it was a wet winter. I hardly ever lose anything in the winter.

Dot
Name: virginiarose
Virginia
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virginiarose
Sep 14, 2012 5:30 PM CST
Wow Dot, I love your new green pots. They are very nice. Thanks for the idea about the large bark mulch in the bottom. I have a whiskey barrell (fake) but I did not want to fill the whole thing with soil and I have not been able to get enough Styrofoam. No more peanuts, they are not an option, since the roots grew right through them in the last pot I used them in, what a mess!! Whistling
BTW, beautiful Daylilies, I especially like the reddish, pink and yellow one. Do you know the name?
susan
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood
Name: James
South Bend, IN (Zone 5b)
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JWWC
Sep 14, 2012 5:40 PM CST
Ohh. That's a ghetto I wouldn't mind strolling through. Big Grin
Name: Mona
Guntown, Ms (Zone 7b)
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monalisa18
Sep 14, 2012 9:59 PM CST
I've been growing my daylilies in pots for nearly 10 years. Our Mississippi soil is clay. It does not drain and it packs down like concrete. I tried digging up some of my older daylilies that I do grow in the ground and I quickly determined there had to be a better way. I had grown about 200 pots of seedlings in pots and when I was ready to move them to beds, I decided to try growing them bigger pots. I used alot of one gallon pots the first year. Daylilies are not designed by God to grow in one gallon pots for more than a year. BUT, they will and they will actually multiply until they burst the sides of the black plastic pot. So, if you get in big plants(not seedlings) do yourself a favor and put them into the biggest pots you can find(or afford!).

I tried alot of different soils. The only soil I shy away from is the ones with the "Moisture retaining additives". I lost 3 good plants in 2008 to this soil. Or atleast I blamed it on that soil. There is a balance of keeping daylilies watered and not allowing the water to drain through the pot.

I'm going to say something here about daylilies and water. I have set really dried out pots of daylilies into tubs of water to let them get a good soaking. I have also left some pots in these tubs for months and they thrived. The tubs I had them in were about 4 inches deep. The pots were 3 gallon size pots. The water usually was only about an inch deep. These daylilies were greener and more robust than any of the others. I have read that some people acutally grow they plants in pots and those pots are sitting in tubs of water year round. The ones I read about live in the coastal South where temps usually stay about freezing. I have no idea what would happen to daylilies in pots sitting in water and the water froze. I figure it would be bad, but I don't know. I always remove any pots from the tubs prior to winter because we have a lot of freezing days. I usually only find a few still in those tubs.

Last fall I started repotting all of my daylilies. I managed to get about 400 pots repotted. It took nearly 1200 pots to put those 400 pots into. I had a bunch of fans!! I use the shredded pine bark mulch and Miracle Grow Garden Soil or something similar to grow my plants in. I use about a 60% bark and 40% soil mix. I'm going to add some sand this year and cut down on the MG Soil but I will still have some soil in the pots with the sand and bark. The pine mulch I use is the cheap kind that comes from Home Depot. I also use alfalfa pellets, a small dose of lime, and a slow release fertilize that's a 16-4-12 ratio. I wanted a fert that was a 3-1-2 ratio(this is recommended by several growers) but the 16-4-12 is the closest thing I can find in my area. I'm actually having this shipped to a local nursery from South Ms. It's expensive! $90 for 50# but a little goes a long way plus it claims to be good for 9 months. I put maybe, a tablespoon plus a little into a 3 gallon pot.

I mix the mulch and soil together in big tub. I then put a section of newspaper in the bottom of my pot. I fill the pot about half full of the mulch mix. I then add a tablespoon or so of alfalfa pellets, half of the fert and a dash of line and mix it with the soil in the pot. I then form the mound in the middle of the pot with more of the soil mix. I put the daylily on the mound so they crown is a bit above the the soil line. I then fill in around the daylily with more soil mix. I now add the rest of the fert, more pellets and another dash of lime on top of the soil mix. I now top all of this with plain pine bark much so it's about an inch above the crown of the daylily. Water throughly. When this all settles down, it will be filled just above the the crown. Like I said, I did nearly 1200 pots like this last fall. I didn't lose a pot of plants. Most thrived like they were on steroids but I had a few that were picky little beasts. I finally took them out of their pots and redid the whole process and they are doing ok, but not perfect like the rest. I may loose these. If so, it only about 10 or so pots out of 1200 and I won't complain.

Over 80% of my pots are in shade most of the day. They will get maybe 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. I give up buds for this but it sure is nice to be in the shade. Makes working conditions alot more tolerable. Of course, they are in sun in winter because they are under decidious trees and most were in sun until middle April this year until the leaves put on. By this time most of them were already blooming. I do have maybe a couple hundred that are in about 8 hours of sun aday. The plants were bigger, had more buds, and most had brighter colors, but most of them set very few seed pods. These in the sun look like burned toast now. The ones in the shade were covered with pods. Most of these in the shade still look good for this time of the year. So this next year, I'm having more of my really good ones in more shade, especially careful of afternoon shade.

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH GROWING PLANTS IN POTS IS WATER WATER WATER! I hope for a water system by next year. I use overhead sprinklers and move the hoses from area to area all day long. I let the water run for an hour in each location and with about 1500 pots, it takes all day long.

So, would I grow in the ground if I had good soil. Yes, I would grow most of my plants in the ground. I would still grow alot of my hybridizing plants in pots just because of the convience.

I'll be glad to answer any questions. Blessings to all, Mona

Name: virginiarose
Virginia
Money talks but Chocolate Sings!
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Hibiscus Dragonflies Daylilies
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virginiarose
Sep 15, 2012 3:11 AM CST
Thanks for the advice Mona, sounds like you got your hands full for sure. You probably have big muscles and a big water bill. Hilarious! Whistling
I live near a home depot, do you know the name of the fertilizer with the 16-4-12?
susan
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood
Name: Fred Manning
Lillian Alabama

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spunky1
Sep 15, 2012 5:32 AM CST
Lots of good information everyone, great looking ghetto Dot.
I do have gold fish in the pond, they breed all the time so there are all sizes up to 10 or 12 inches.
One thing I would like to say about water and pots, the type sprinkler you use makes a big difference in the time it takes to water and the amount of water that actually gets into the pots. I used those lawn type pop-up sprinklers for several years and like Mona it took forever to get enough water in the pots to do any good. I have slowly changed everything over to shrub sprinklers and cut my watering time from one hour to 10 minutes per zone.
Thumb of 2012-09-15/spunky1/b56c2f
The shrub sprinklers reach 10-15 foot in all directions depending on water pressure.
Thumb of 2012-09-15/spunky1/efd97c

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