I've been growing daylilies for over 30 years, have been an AHS member for nearly 20 years, and have been purchasing daylilies in fairly large quantities for many years, although not as many as in those early years when I'd buy entire collections . The selling of single fans is not a "new trend" by any means. It's been around for years, but years ago, it was only seen on the newest introductions . All of you who purchase daylilies from breeders know that the newest plants are often in short supply and they often command high and sometimes ridiculous prices. Each person's budget, growing space, and tastes are different, that's a given.
But goodness, it is a free market. No one twists our arms and makes us purchase a single fan, it's our choice, thankfully. As a seller on the LA, I almost never have sold a single fan. Those RARE instances when I've done it have been times when I purchased a new expensive plant and it just didn't like my climate/ garden and didn't thrive. After a few years, I'd be ready for that valuable garden space to go to a plant that would be happier here. I always sold SF's with the admonition that the plant didn't seem to like my climate and IMHO would be happier in a more southern growing zone. ( even with the admonition, people still purchased, sometimes in colder climates.) Usually I sell triple fans or clumps, as that's what I'd like to receive as a buyer. When I infrequently purchase from the LA, if there's something quite expensive that I really want , I might take a chance on a SF, but ONLY in the spring. In this climate, I would NEVER purchase a SF in the fall especially from a more southern climate, because those have a hard time surviving winter.
In general, if you MUST have the latest and most trendy plants out there, IMHO you're better off to purchase them directly from their breeder when possible. There was a big - well, I'll just call it for what it was - PUBLIC STINK - raised last year at a Regional symposium by one of the top sellers on the LA who was very upset at a few of the other sellers who sell a lot of the newest plants on the LA ( not the breeders of the plants.) These sellers often offer almost new introductions from big breeders as SF's with opening bids beginning at extremely low prices ( for a plant that retailed at $100-200 just a year ago or less) Of course, people are enticed to bid, when they just saw the plant offered as a new plant for, say $200 a few months before, and now someone is offering that same plant for $14.99. Who can resist such a bargain? The statement was made at this symposium that some of these big sellers are using BAP paste to increase the plants quickly and that they are selling small BAP increased plants at these low prices, and/or taking advantage of the generosity of sellers who sometimes might be able to send 2 or 3 fans of their new introductions to a buyer. Honestly, I don't know the truth of all this, except that several top breeders were in attendance, and there was a, shall we say, "stimulating" discussion on this subject. Most people agreed that it's the buyers choice, but they also agreed that daylily hybridizers have to keep the costs up for their new introductions for several years just to break even for the costs of growing and hybridizing daylilies. I heard a lot of people say they support the breeders on this and avoid purchasing those "almost too good to be true" deals. However, this was a daylily symposium with a lot of people like me who have grown daylilies for years and made a few laps around the track. New growers who see such deals often don't know ( and don't care about the background) and only see the great deal for a cheap buy of an expensive plant. Buyer's choice and caveat emptor. That being said, there are buyers I choose to avoid on the LA because I believe their selling methods to be less than ethical, but that's my choice. There are a bunch of sellers I'd buy from in an instant, because I know they'll send quality plants. Any of you who use the LA probably have your own list of favorite vendors - your choice always!
If you're starting out and want to purchase good, reliable garden plants, it is SO much better for you to try to find sellers locally so you can see the plants performing in a local garden and then purchase them. Start with AHS Display Gardens in your area. Many of them sell their daylilies, or know growers in the area who do. They might not sell during growing season, but if you make a list, will sell to you in the fall. People who visit here often make lists and then want the plants in the fall.