Daylilies forum: Cut Back or Die back Naturally?

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Name: Paula Shaw
Whittemore, Michigan (Zone 5a)
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petalsnsepals
Oct 8, 2012 4:26 PM CST
Just curious what other daylily growers due before winter sets in.The man that comes out to do my yearly state inspection told me that it is best to remove as much of the foliage as possible before winter and discard it. I have always let it die back naturally then raked it off and discarded it in the spring of the next year,with the exception of last year . I followed his advice and removed all leaves and destroyed them. I did not lose anything over the winter nor did I notice anything different.I would like to know other growers opinion on this matter.
Currie's Daylily Farm
[Last edited by petalsnsepals - Oct 8, 2012 5:22 PM (+)]
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Name: Juli
(Zone 5b)
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daylily
Oct 8, 2012 5:00 PM CST
In years past, I left old foliage. Sort of a natural mulch.

It makes me run behind in spring. By the time I have cleared beds of old foliage, it is on the late side for pre-emergent.

This is the first time I am going to try cleaning the beds in fall.
Name: kimbar rise
beaverton mi
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kimbar
Oct 8, 2012 5:08 PM CST
I let mine die back. I dont cut them down. I keep it cleared away but i let it die back and clean up in the spring.
Name: Hector
Haywood County, NC (Zone 6b)
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yugo20
Oct 8, 2012 5:25 PM CST
You want to hear something real crazy??? Last fall I was on my last mowing for the year and as always I had my mower set as low as I can get it ,And while driving by my lily beds I said , What If? And guess what I did next? ___Yes I did" I got on my beds one by one and mowed my day lily's down to the dirt! some of the clumps you cold see the roots! I didn't sleep all last winter worrying about them!, But guess what ? This year they came back with a vengeance! I don't know what the moral of this story is but I'll never do it again!!
Name: shirlee
southeast (Zone 6b)
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mistyfog
Oct 8, 2012 5:30 PM CST
That is so funny, Hector. "You don't know what the moral of the story is, but you will never
do it again." LOL. Guess you don't want to spend another winter losing all that sleep.

For what it's worth, I would be the same way. Worry, worry, worry.
Name: Betty
MN zone 4
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daylilydreams
Oct 8, 2012 5:31 PM CST
I let mine die back to mulch naturally and will also add leaves that have been run thru our lawn mower when we use it to pick up the leaves instead of hauling them to the refuse site.
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Name: Paula Shaw
Whittemore, Michigan (Zone 5a)
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petalsnsepals
Oct 8, 2012 5:47 PM CST
That's to funny Hector!! I have seen people do that to thier Iris's and I just cringe.
Currie's Daylily Farm
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
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lovemyhouse
Oct 8, 2012 6:45 PM CST
Let mine brown out and die back. Do periodically clean them up before spring, but our winters make that a lot easier than would be the case in Michigan and other points north. Guess it might be a personal preference, then?. Would you rather get it all done now or wait for late winter/spring to clean it all out.
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Doris&David Bishop
Cartersville, Ga. (Zone 7b)
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Casshigh
Oct 8, 2012 7:25 PM CST
I prefer to let the foliage die back rather than cut the foliage in the late summer or early fall. My thinking is that I want the daylily to put all its energy in the roots and next year's fans as opposed to supporting the new foliage that grows back after cutting the foliage back. I wait until better weather days during the winter to cut back any foliage that is above the ground and to clean out any dead foliage. We mulch with pinestraw so we don't need the old dead foliage as mulch. I want to get rid of the dead foliage so insects and disease cannot overwinter in the dead foliage. By doing this, the only real foliage above the ground will be the evergreen daylilies. I will already have cleaned out the beds before spring gets here and can put out the fertilizers in early March followed by fresh mulch before the foliage starts leafing out. We usually have our first freeze in early November with our last freeze/frost date in mid April. I would like to be ready to start cutting back foliage by mid November once I get all the new fall arrivals (daylilies) planted (maybe this week!) and another bed of daylilies moved around. If you wait long enough, the dormant foliage is completely dead and the semievergreen foliage is not near as plentiful as the evergreen foliage and the cleaning goes much quicker.

I do think it is a personal preference whether you cut back or let the foliage die back naturally. Whether I cut the foliage back or not in late summer or fall, I would still have to clean out the dead foliage by spring.

Doris
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Name: Cynthia (Cindy)
Melvindale, Mi (Zone 5b)
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Hemlady
Oct 9, 2012 5:42 AM CST
I let the foilage die back and self mulch the plants. It is a little extra work in the spring like Juli said but I have been doing it that way for over l8 years.

I should have said too, that when everything is covered in 4 to 6" of snow, you don't see anything anyway.
Lighthouse Gardens
[Last edited by Hemlady - Oct 9, 2012 7:32 AM (+)]
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Name: Michele
Cantonment, FL zone 8b
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tink3472
Oct 9, 2012 6:09 AM CST
Since most of the daylilies here are divided yearly they get cut back in the early fall when dividing.

I try not to cut back the foliage on any others unless it's absolutely necessary or the foliage is really ratty looking. It easier to put down alfalfa pellets and fertlizer if they have been cut back though.
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Name: bb
north of boston on the coast
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lilylady
Oct 9, 2012 6:41 AM CST
I cut all gardens down in Oct/Nov.

I like seeing clean beds all winter.

I like even better seeing fresh starts of all perennials in the early spring. Such anticipation.

Name: Char
Vermont (Zone 4b)
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Char
Oct 9, 2012 3:07 PM CST

Moderator

This is definately a question of personal choice and what works best for your situation. Our season is short up here which for me means preparing ahead for the next season begins in August. I have 3 beds rotating for sdlg's - new spring planted, then 1st year to bloom and 2nd year to bloom and 4 rotating for selects. Beds get cut back starting with the 1st year to bloom sdlg's and previous years select sdlg beds.New spring planted seedlings get weeded, not trimmed. I start the end of August, just as I finish pollenating and bloom is winding down. Doing it at this time gives me a chance to see how each one has done over the season and give the beds a thorough weeding. Scapes with pods are much easier to find when foliage is cut 10 - 12 inches, you just have to be careful when trimming not to cut them off! Grumbling Crying Once pods are off the 2nd year bloomers the selects are dug, trimmed, moved and the rest of the seedlings in that section dug and composted to prepare the bed for the new sdg's next spring.
Then I move down to the front display garden and do the same trim & weed. This is also the time for fall orders to begin shipping and digging, dividing and rearranging of the plants in beds and a good weeding to be done. I hand weed everything here starting as soon as the ground thaws to when the first scapes come up, then I stop so as not to break scapes off while bending for weeds.In the 6 to 8 weeks of bloom it is amazing how the weeds grow all hidden by foliage.I can do fan counts on all plants and update maps easier when they are trimmed, something which can not be done once it snows, then I can work on my seedling book, sale listings, garden list etc. for the next year during winter.The last to be cut are my other perennials. All that's left to do now is update maps, fan counts, flip the compost pile and begin splitting wood to dry for next year, the crisp fall days are perfect for splitting wood.
Name: Paula Shaw
Whittemore, Michigan (Zone 5a)
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petalsnsepals
Oct 9, 2012 3:15 PM CST
I am beginning to believe it is actually a matter of personal preference. I believe as Doris had mentioned that the only real benefit to cutting opposed to die back is to help elimanate soil borne disease and cut back on insects wintering over in foliage. I like to have a clean garden come spring so I can get right on weed control so by cutting in the fall this will give me more time in the spring to work on weeding.I hate weeds but the always seem to get away from me by late July/early August.
Currie's Daylily Farm
Name: Juli
(Zone 5b)
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daylily
Oct 9, 2012 3:18 PM CST
Char said: the crisp fall days are perfect for splitting wood.


I miss using wood for heat. Nothing better, or warmer! I have a Johnson wood furnace in my basement that used to go to my regular furnace ducts. It was wonderful. Then, I added on, so my Mom could move in, and we had to get another furnace. Code would not allow them to tie in to the existing ducts. So,it just heats the basement and one, separate, duct for the upstairs. So, the basement and that one room get to be 90 and the rest of the house is cold. Thumbs down

My Mom is terrified of the wood stove. Shrug!
So any change in ducts must wait till she passes on......
[Last edited by daylily - Oct 9, 2012 3:19 PM (+)]
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Name: Char
Vermont (Zone 4b)
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Char
Oct 9, 2012 5:27 PM CST

Moderator

I agree Paula, I can't help but think it is good to get rid of any diseased foliage. Mine do grow back some and with the cutting not real short they have a little coverage when everything dies back.

Nothing like starting the woodstove to take the chill off the house these fall nights, have yet to even see if the backup furnace is working. The copy I ordered last spring of the Landscaping With Daylilies book is waiting for a good day to curl up with a book, blanket and woodstove. By Feb. I will be well over the cozy feeling, hauling wood and loading the stove every hour... will have me counting the minutes til April!
Name: Juli
(Zone 5b)
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daylily
Oct 9, 2012 5:29 PM CST
Char said:Nothing like starting the woodstove to take the chill off the house these fall nights, have yet to even see if the backup furnace is working. The copy I ordered last spring of the Landscaping With Daylilies book is waiting for a good day to curl up with a book, blanket and woodstove.


That sounds like a great idea! So "home-y" or however you spell it. (Norman Rockwell x David Kirchhoff)
Name: shirlee
southeast (Zone 6b)
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mistyfog
Oct 9, 2012 6:35 PM CST
I am watching these posts because I'm trying to decide what to do this year.
Up to now, I've left the growth on the plants for a winter mulch and cleaned beds in spring.
However, the weird weather this year has me wondering.
(Zone 7a)
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dormantsrule
Oct 10, 2012 2:19 AM CST
lilylady said:I cut all gardens down in Oct/Nov.

I like seeing clean beds all winter.

I like even better seeing fresh starts of all perennials in the early spring. Such anticipation.



I totally agree. I can't wait to cut foliage back around Oct 1.

Another reason is I can see vole holes and place traps much easier with foliage cut back. Last winter I had 16 or so traps set at once. I also do a fan count and enter it in PlantStep and it's much easier to count them when foliage cut. It's been interesting how some increase so quickly and some take forever.

Vole Hole
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Determine if it's active by sprinking on some poultry grit, sand or gravel.
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If the gravel has been moved, it's active and you want to place your trap here.
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Snap Trap
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I place a pot held in place with a bamboo stick to prevent neighborhood cats, etc from harm.
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Name: shirlee
southeast (Zone 6b)
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mistyfog
Oct 10, 2012 8:17 AM CST
Many thanks for the vole-trap method. I gotta get busy. There's so many
voles this year, and they love the flower beds.

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