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Jan 18, 2022 7:36 AM CST
Name: Lori Thomas
Dawsonville, GA (Zone 7b)
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After reading through the various forum posts, I see varying opinions about which daylilies are better - dormant or evergreen. As best I can tell, the answer depends upon your specific environment, and also personal opinion. I have a personal preference for evergreen daylilies because they give life to the garden when most other perennials are dormant in the winter. On the other hand, I wonder if I should be worried about rust wintering over in the evergreen foliage since I live in the southeast (Georgia mountains). What are your thought about evergreens versus dormants? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

This photo shows the established clumps of evergreen daylilies adding "interest" to the terrace garden in winter. The top 3 terraces are full of daylilies, but most are dormant, leaving the terraces mostly barren. On the other hand, the dormants are my favorite blooms in the summer.
Thumb of 2022-01-18/LoriMT/1b7834
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Jan 18, 2022 8:19 AM CST
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
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My opinion is that I love all the ones that do well in my garden. I grow almost a hundred dormants, more evergreens and a bunch in-between. I also love having green foliage during the winter, I walk out in my garden almost every day and try to do something, even some little thing that will improve the garden and having those beautiful green plants certainly encourages that. I also love the dormants and how beautiful the new fans are when they start emerging after being dormant. I suppose the looks of the semi evergreens are the worst, but still they give signs of life so you don't feel you have lost a plant. But, we don't really grow plants so much for how they look in the winter as how they perform during the daylily blooming season. Some of my best performers as garden plants are actually dormants, but I do have some that just can't seem to make it here, I would say out of the 90+ dormants I grow about a half dozen will leave the garden shortly. Off hand I can't think of any evergreens or semi-evergreens that are such weak plants they will be kicked out but I feel sure there are at least a few. So I really don't see it as a choice so much between the three, there are degrees of dormancy I suppose in nearly all my plants, some show winter dormancy and many show summer dormancy.
Last edited by Seedfork Jan 18, 2022 8:22 AM Icon for preview
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Jan 18, 2022 8:20 AM CST
Name: Elena
NYC (Zone 7a)
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I'm not going to comment on which type of daylily is better. But I will say that how they are classified (evergreen, semi-evergreen, dormant) is based on what the plant did in the hybridizer's garden. I have some registered evergreen daylilies that are dormant in my garden and others that are evergreen. I also have SEVs which act like evergreens for me.

Which is why I'll just say, I like the plants best that do well in my garden regardless of how they are classified by the hybridizer.
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Jan 18, 2022 8:23 AM CST
Name: Dianne
Eagle Bay, New York (Zone 3b)
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@LoriMT - I'm probably not the best person to reply to a question coming from a garden in zone 7 (being in zone 3 myself), but one thought: in my gardens, 'everything' is a dormant plant (excepting trees, of course, but even the deciduous trees drop their leaves).

There are at least a couple of advantages to having a dormant period: the plants get to rest. Just as people need to sleep, I think the plants benefit from having a period of rest, during which they store energy and wait for the new season, so they can burst forth renewed and in glorious bloom. I think that dormancy gives them a renewed, refreshed life that keeps them healthy and strong.

Which leads to the second thought: dormancy does discourage disease and pests from lingering over between one season and the next: nothing to feed on, nothing to support the pests in the garden.

There are other ways to keep 'interest' in the gardens over the quiet time of the year (I have shrubs with interesting forms and evergreen trees that add some colour)... you can also add solar lights or decorative hardscaping to the gardens as well.

I leave solar lights outside all year and it's beautiful to see the glow of the lights under the snow on a cold winter night.

Dianne
Last edited by adknative Jan 18, 2022 8:26 AM Icon for preview
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Jan 18, 2022 9:03 AM CST
Name: Dave
Wood Co TX & Huron Co MI
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Most of my "evergreens" look terrible after 20F and no snow cover. The dormants just laugh at those temperatures. So...I can't help much if you want green all winter.
Life is better at the lake.
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Jan 18, 2022 9:05 AM CST
Name: Justine
Maryville, Tennessee (Zone 7a)
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Lori, them's fightin' words for some folk! But prejudices aside, it's a great question and I've been thinking about it here in 7a, up just a little further north of you. The hardy evergreens seem to grow most vigorously and increase well. But the late freezes in the spring can mushify the tips of the leaves and hang them up, along with looking heartbreakingly ratty in the early season. For that reason, my preference is for semi-evergreen habit. In this zone, it's a nice balance: tidy foliage and lots of active growing time. On warm days in the spring and fall, one can see the sevs "stretch". Cold days they seem to sit tight.

My garden had a really bad case of rust in the late summer several years ago and it was interesting to see how DLs responded. Many of the evergreens (with their wide, fleshy leaves) were significantly infected. In winter, we get ice and snow here and freezing nights for several months. and will sometimes have a few days that don't get above freezing, Many of the evergreens don't die all the way down; just sort of get beaten back by the cold to 6 or 8 inches. However, when spring rolled around, all the plants were clean and there was no sign of rust! Not what I expected. In Northeast Georgia, the evs are prettier in winter but I suspect that one might not be as fortunate with rust.

Semi-evergreen foliage seems tidier and sturdier than evergreen and dormants even more so. If evergreens are whales, sevs are orcas and dormants are dolphins. I guess I vote for the orcas, although one has to love the intentionality of that little dormant resting bud that says "Hey, I can take whatever you throw at me!"
I wonder why no one ever told me
that the rainbow and the treasure
were both within me. -- Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D.
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Jan 18, 2022 10:08 AM CST
Name: Nan
southeast Georgia (Zone 8b)
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The conventional wisdom is that evergreens tend to do better in the warmer zones while dormants (deciduous? I'm having trouble getting used to that term) do better in the North. As others have said, that's not always true though. Like Larry, I grow a lot of dormant cultivars that do fine here, in zone 8b but some of them dwindle away and eventually disappear. As for evergreens, most of mine stay pretty green throughout the winter, but again, they don't all. I have one evergreen which dies back pretty consistently.

About rust--in your zone, you can't count on winter to get rid of it. The spores can winter over in the crown of the plant, even in a dormant. Some years are much worse than others.
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Jan 18, 2022 10:17 AM CST
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4b)
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DeweyRooter said:

About rust--in your zone, you can't count on winter to get rid of it. The spores can winter over in the crown of the plant, even in a dormant. Some years are much worse than others.


The body of the fungus can overwinter inside living leaves, and spores can remain viable for a while on the outside of leaves (but can't re-infect dead leaves, and the body of the fungus will also die if the leaf dies). Experiments have shown that this is not a systemic rust that winters in the crown so as long as the leaves die completely back then the rust will die along with them. Where there's a grey area is whether the fungus is killed at a slightly higher temperature than that which would kill the leaves.
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Jan 18, 2022 10:23 AM CST
Name: Nan
southeast Georgia (Zone 8b)
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Oh, OK. Thanks for the correction. That would suggest that a dormant plant would (if the leaves die back completely) be free of rust when it reemerges in spring.

So the same dormant plant getting rust again the following season would be the result of a new infection. That makes sense.
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Jan 18, 2022 10:32 AM CST
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4b)
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DeweyRooter said:Oh, OK. Thanks for the correction. That would suggest that a dormant plant would (if the leaves die back completely) be free of rust when it reemerges in spring.

So the same dormant plant getting rust again the following season would be the result of a new infection. That makes sense.


Yes, if all the leaves die back completely it should be free of rust and if rust re-appeared it would have been re-introduced on new plants, or not all infected plants in a garden or surrounding area died back completely enough and rust spread out again from there.

You can have an infection inside a living leaf and not be able to see anything on the outside of the leaf because it hasn't yet produced spores. The spores (equivalent to seeds) are just the reproductive units, the actual rust fungus is not visible but is busy feeding from the plant's cells inside the leaf.
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Jan 18, 2022 10:52 AM CST
Name: Julie C
Roanoke, VA (Zone 7a)
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Judging which foliage type is better all comes down to: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.

If you're in zones 8 or 9, you can make a good argument for evergreen, as most
Deciduous ( dormant) plants struggle to survive in your climate. Most decline and disappear over several years time.

If you live in zones 4-5, you can likely argue that deciduous daylilies thrive more easily for you. But you might have been able to grow a few evergreens too.

Those who live in zones 6-7 can have success with nearly all daylilies, though a few tender evergreens May struggle. My garden on the edge of zones 6/7 has more deciduous daylilies , and have found that over time, some tender evergreens will dwindle and fail to thrive. At the very least, their blooms are smaller, and bud count and branching is reduced from registration data. My "meter" if you will, is growing excellent garden plants. I've learned over the years to ruthlessly discard the wimps -those that need nursing along to produce maybe 8-10 decent blooms in a season. Why would anyone want to waste good garden space on such a plant, when you grow something else that produces abundant scapes, buds, and maybe even reblooms? ( It wasn't always this easy. I nursed along many pretty faces on sub par plants for years, until I finally woke up one day and said, Really? This plant has had 6 decent blooms for the past two years. Why is it still taking up my garden space? )

Just my two cents worth……
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Jan 18, 2022 10:57 AM CST
Name: Orion
Boston, MA (Zone 6b)
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You seem to have lots of trees in the back there.
If you want winter interest I can suggest evergreen azaleas or rhododendrons. Many love shady spots. More recent cultivars prefer the sun confusingly, however. There are also some awesome bushes out there. The leaves of 'Nandina Fire Power' go bright red over winter months, and keep a neat small habit.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/4...
Or, if you like woodland trees you might love 'Chief Joseph Pine' that goes bright yellow in colder months (would look amazing next to the Nandina). It does grow pretty slowly, however:
https://www.coniferkingdom.com...
I know it is sacrilege to say, but there is far more out there than daylilies. *Blush*
Gardening: So exciting I wet my plants!
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Jan 18, 2022 12:26 PM CST
Name: Wendy
mid-Atlantic (Zone 6b)
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Julie, I think another "tell" I've noticed when purchasing daylilies of any foliage type from northern growers is if they remark "makes small fans here" the plants are often fussy in my 6b garden.
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Jan 18, 2022 1:23 PM CST
Name: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
Winter can be a hard time for even winter-hardy plants. During the growing season they store nutrients for future use, particularly during the winter and the next spring. The blue line in the figure below emphasizes how much of the stored carbohydrates were used by plants (not daylilies) during winter. TNC is Total Non-structural Carbohydrates (for example, sugars). Daylilies will respond in a similar manner.
Thumb of 2022-01-18/admmad/42f864
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Jan 18, 2022 2:27 PM CST
Name: Wendy
mid-Atlantic (Zone 6b)
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Maurice - I recall an earlier thread where you talked about the development of new fans off the crown and described the plant growth cycle. I assume the timing of this cycle is independent of whether the plant is deciduous or evergreen? Is there any difference in the same plant when grown in more northerly or southerly zones?
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Jan 18, 2022 3:35 PM CST
Name: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
robinjoy said:Maurice - I recall an earlier thread where you talked about the development of new fans off the crown and described the plant growth cycle. I assume the timing of this cycle is independent of whether the plant is deciduous or evergreen? Is there any difference in the same plant when grown in more northerly or southerly zones?


The cycle itself is not different between deciduous and evergreen but the timing of different parts of the cycle can be.

A daylily is deciduous if it does not have any visible green leaves during winter. Usually we expect that all its leaves had yellowed, died and become dried in the autumn more or less at about the same time. It will have a bud on its crown that should not sprout until the next spring but that might sprout before the next spring,. Even if it sprouts before the next spring it should still remain completely below the soil surface. The time at which that bud sprouts determines the start of the next growth cycle and produces the new fan of leaves.

A daylily is "evergreen" if it always has at least some visible green leaves during winter (more or less). We expect that its leaves yellow, die and become dried one by one with substantial time in between consecutive leaves dying. We do not expect that it will have a bud. There will be a time when it has green leaves from its previous growing point and green leaves from its next growing point at the same time. We expect that an "evergreen" grows during the normal growing season in the same way that it may grow during "winter", when the temperatures allow it to grow at all. We expect that "evergreen" daylilies grow continuously, whenever temperature and other conditions allow growth.

Here is one complication.
Deciduous daylilies may grow in two different ways during the normal growing season. The different ways depend on when it sets its bud and when it stops producing new green leaves. A deciduous daylily can grow continuously during the growing season. It can produce a scape and its growth can continue with new leaves and a new meristem (growing point). Or it can grow discontinuously. It can stop producing new leaves when it produces its scape. It can form its bud at about that time. If it does produce its bud early during the growing season then its bud could sprout later during the growing season depending on conditions. For example, if the scape is removed and the leaves are cut back without disturbing the plant otherwise, then the bud may sprout and produce a fan of leaves.

A daylily may grow as an evergreen in one location but as deciduous in another. I am not entirely certain that there is a pattern that is correct for all cultivars. I grow one cultivar that acts like an evergreen in my zone 4/5 growing conditions but that acts deciduous further south and in a location further east and about one degree of latitude further north of me.
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Jan 19, 2022 1:19 PM CST
Ohio (Zone 5a)
I think a lot of it also depends what you are doing with them. If you are just admiring them, and want to reduce the risk of rust,
perhaps the more deciduous plants or SEV plants might work better. I buy quite a few evergreens for making crosses, and
some of them are potted in my greenhouse. At the moment I have 9 in my bedroom window! I bought a lot of plants last year
and had a really nice rust outbreak, but once I brought them indoors, both in the house and in the greenhouse, the rust vanished.
In a way, I almost encourage rust so I know which ones are more resistant, but at the same time, I hate it when my nice new
$100 plant turns into a rust bucket and nearly dies. When planted out in the garden, some of the evergreens even in our cold
winters will come back vigorous and healthy, but like Julie said, some just dwindle down to nothing, and I don't have time or
space to waste with them. For me it is more about the discovery of which ones can take it! I also like having a few that are
quite susceptible to rust so I can evaluate everything else. The worst part is that I have to buy new plants from southern growers
every year to make sure I have an infestation! Hurray! Don't you just hate having to buy something new?? Rolling on the floor laughing
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Jan 19, 2022 6:06 PM CST
Name: Roger & Karen
Birmingham, Al (Zone 7b)
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I think it depends on what growing zone you are in.
Here in 7a unless we have a real cold winter our dormant don't do as well.
Semis do well here.
So do Evergreens.
Every home needs a daylily, and every daylily needs a home.
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Jan 20, 2022 9:41 AM CST
Name: Elena
NYC (Zone 7a)
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@Diggerofdirt I'm in the same zone as you and the opposite is generally true for me. Which shows that whoever designates the zones is a bit nuts. Alabama and New York are the same?!? Concrete doesn't trap that much heat!

I had to bring two new daylilies inside (EV and SEV) to keep them alive. No way were they going to survive this frigid winter with little to no snow cover.
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Jan 20, 2022 10:19 AM CST
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4b)
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bxncbx said:Diggerofdirt I'm in the same zone as you and the opposite is generally true for me. Which shows that whoever designates the zones is a bit nuts. Alabama and New York are the same?!? Concrete doesn't trap that much heat!


Birmingham, Alabama is zone 7b/8a according to the USDA zone map:

https://planthardiness.ars.usd...

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