Daylilies forum: I would love some thoughts on my seedling bed plan...

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Name: Amber
Missouri (Zone 6a)
Daylilies Region: Missouri Garden Photography
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amberjewel
Jul 8, 2017 9:57 AM CST
I have a 72 foot by 11 foot side yard that I am turning in to my seedling bed. I would love to get opinions on the layout I have in mind as well as the irrigation. I made a quick sketch of what I'm thinking of doing. It just represents a small section of the area...

Thumb of 2017-07-08/amberjewel/596936

I hope to put 100 seedlings per row. The grid is a 7" grid. I plan on off setting the rows to give a little more room. The black line is my drip line and the blue is the water direction. The drippers are supposed to have an 18" radius. So I think one dripper will cover three seedlings...two on the side the dripper is pointing and one behind the dripper. I will then off set the directions of the drippers. I plan on keeping most of them for 3 years but will probably cull some in years one and two as well.

My main concerns are whether they will be far enough apart, and whether the drippers will be enough to make sure each seedling gets adequate water.

I would love to get some thoughts...

Amber
Daylily Novice
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Composter Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Region: Alabama
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Seedfork
Jul 8, 2017 10:34 AM CST
I think if you are just doing it for recreation purposes like I am starting to do, the system will be fine to start with then learn and change things as you go.
I have never had an irrigation system, but I do know how much water each "dripper" puts out can vary according to the size of the opening in it. So without knowing how much water each dripper is going to emit it would be impossible to say if the plants would drown or parch. I think the spacing is tight at seven inches being the plants are going to be there for three years , but there might be just a few that get too large and they could be moved I suppose.
Name: Amber
Missouri (Zone 6a)
Daylilies Region: Missouri Garden Photography
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amberjewel
Jul 8, 2017 10:55 AM CST
I did the math wrong. They would actually be about 8 1/2 inches apart in each row.

I will have to do some research on drippers to see the radius that they cover…
Amber
Daylily Novice
Name: Dennis
SW Michigan (Zone 5a)
Daylilies
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Dennis616
Jul 8, 2017 4:20 PM CST
I am a rookie with seedling beds but I figured 12" spacing is good and I have read that others use that also.
Have found so far that I need some space for walking in the bed to weed and make close-up observations. Creating extra space either by putting some extra space in between some of the rows, or leaving some planting spots open in a way that creates a path.
Drip irrigation I have used does not vary with size of the openings-- only the amount of time you run the water through-- so the spacing between the emitters is important-- for example in your case 18" spacing would be too much. Those are my thoughts right now hope this helps Smiling ...
Name: Amber
Missouri (Zone 6a)
Daylilies Region: Missouri Garden Photography
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amberjewel
Jul 10, 2017 7:49 AM CST
Thank you Dennis and Larry for your thoughts. I would love to hear more thoughts...a hybridizer in the St Louis area told me to plant them 4" apart! Can anyone from a zone 6 garden tell me about how much increase you get on a seedling in three years time?
Amber
Daylily Novice
Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
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Polymerous
Jul 10, 2017 10:22 PM CST
I am in zone 9 (the arid West 9, not the humid South 9, and not the Midwest), so YMMV.

I have my "new" seedlings in 3 raised beds (8" to 12" high, cedar board siding) on a drip system. The drip is arranged in a grid such that each seedling gets planted in its own little square, 6" on a side. (That 6" is from center of the drip line to center of the drip line.) There is one irrigation hole in the plastic drip tubing on each side. (I don't have the drip tubing in front of me, and I didn't install it so I'm not sure about the diameter, but it was somewhere in the 3/4" - 1" diameter. We did not use emitters; either the tubing came pre-drilled and it worked out to one hole every 6", or else my garden helpers punched holes in the tubing.)

Here is a view of part of one bed, such that you can see the arrangement, with a closeup of one planting cell. (Yes, there IS one hole in each side piece; some of the holes are pointing down, not up.)

Thumb of 2017-07-11/Polymerous/756afc Thumb of 2017-07-11/Polymerous/dddd5c

I started with one roughly 3' x 8' bed, gridded into 5 rows x 15 columns, and I can say that yes, you CAN bring seedlings to bloom under such circumstances. You can also get some amount of propagation too, but I have yet to see rebloom (this is the 2nd bloom season) in that original bed. (More as to why, later.)

That said, here are lessons that we learned this season:

1. You have to keep a real sharp eye on the drip system, because critters chew on it, and once you get a hole (which you might not notice for a while), you are at risk of losing many/most of your seedlings (depending where in the grid the hole is). At best you will set almost everything back sharply. (Our hole was in the middle of the bed, and we lost some seedlings in the drier half, and almost everything surviving in the entire bed, not just that half, was badly affected.)

2. It takes some time and experimentation to arrive at the optimum amount of time to run the drip. Right now we are currently running it 2x/day, for 5 minutes each. While this is enough to keep things alive, it is not really enough for them to thrive. (There was one exceptional seedling which I dubbed 'The Monstrosity' which did pretty well, towering over everything else in the bed, but there is no sign of rebloom there, even though genetically it should rebloom.)

3. When planting out very new, small seedlings, you may have to give supplemental watering with a hose or with the watering can. The reason for this is that their root systems are too small to get into the "wet" areas near the drip holes. I lost some new, small seedlings because of this, until I figured it out. (Once the seedlings get a big enough root zone, then they can survive on the drip.)

4. "Survive" is not the same as "thrive". I had a valuable lesson this spring when the seedlings in the two newer beds took off like gangbusters. The seedlings in those beds have lush foliage and large flowers. It wasn't until late last month that I discovered the reason - they are getting overspray from some sprinklers behind the beds! (The front row seedlings do not get as much overspray because they are in the rain shadow of the seedlings in the other 4 rows, but even those seedlings did better than the ones in the drip-only original bed, which had no sprinklers behind it to overspray into it.)

Now, the two newer beds are taller (12" vs 8" in the original bed), but I am skeptical that that contributed to the better growth in the newer beds, because while the old bed was only 8" above grade, we dug down at least a foot below grade when preparing the bed, so there was plenty of loose soil. I therefore have to think that the extra water made all the difference in the growth between the old and new beds. Apart from the lushness of the two newer beds, many of the seedlings in there have rebloomed, whereas nothing has rebloomed in the original, drier bed.

5. If you do everything well, and your seedlings have full lush foliage when they bloom, you have a bit of a challenge figuring out what is what (if you are lucky and have a desirable seedling). My advice here is:

a. When you plant out your beds, MAP EVERYTHING, and bring that map inside and put it on the computer (and print out a hardcopy in case your computer dies). You need to record what the cross is in each row and column - for example, Column 5 rows a-e, and Column 6 rows a-b, contain Cross X (however you number or track your seedlings).

b. Once things start blooming, the easiest thing for you to do is to take a sharpie, and near the top of each scape, WRITE THE COLUMN AND ROW of the daylily seedling. (Yes, you have to follow that scape all the way down into the jungle and figure out which square it is in, but you only have to do it once per scape.) Make your notes using the column and row (and bed number or designator, if you have multiple beds), and then later in the season (or when labeling pictures, or whatever) you can always substitute the correct Cross/Sdlg # for the column and row number, if need be. (I have 3 beds, West, Center, and East. So I might be interested in, and save pollen from, Sdlg W12c (aka 'The Monstrosity'), which is in the West bed, Column 12, Row c). It is easier to write "W12c" on a gel capsule saving the pollen, than it is to write the Cross/Sdlg# (H3-13-1). )

Based on this season's results, we will rework the old bed this fall, and my plan is to swap out that cedar box to a 12" high one (to make it the same height as the two newer beds), and to also put some spray heads behind that bed. (The redwoods that are several feet away will also benefit from the new spray heads.)

The bottom line here is yes, you can squeeze the seedlings in, to some extent. (I would not recommend a 4" spacing, though!) My 6" x 6" planting areas have given the seedlings room to propagate (which you might need, being in a colder zone and thus needing an extra season or two to see bloom). Many seedlings this season have at least 2 large fans (everything in those beds is a tet); a few seedlings have 4-5 fans (albeit smaller ones - but those are in the original drier bed). That is for seedlings from 2013, 2014, and 2015 seeds.

But be prepared to keep an eagle eye on your beds, and adjust irrigation as needed.

I hope this will be of some help.



It's daylily season!
Name: Amber
Missouri (Zone 6a)
Daylilies Region: Missouri Garden Photography
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amberjewel
Jul 11, 2017 11:54 AM CST
@Polymerous

Thank you for that amazing wealth of information. I have drip lines for all my mature daylilies and haven't had a problem yet with critters chewing on them...but I mulch over the top of them and we live in the middle of town...so maybe that's why. Thank you for the caution about ensuring that they get water early on. I have found that even in the seedling trays, the trays with fewer surviving seedlings or fewer cells to begin with are doing better then the ones with a full set of 72 seedlings. My only guess is because the ones in less crowded conditions are getting more water.

As for spacing, it sounds like my original idea of 8.5" apart is similar to what you have. I think I will try a couple rows at 8.5" apart and a couple at 12" apart. This is my first year and most of these crosses aren't monumental, or at least, not crosses o can't make again. So if I kill them I will be ok and chalk it up as a learning experience.
Amber
Daylily Novice
Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
Moon Gardener Irises Heucheras Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Polymerous
Jul 11, 2017 9:45 PM CST
"Learning experience" - that's the spirit! Thumbs up
It's daylily season!
Name: Mary
Crown Point, Indiana (Zone 5b)
josieskid
Jul 12, 2017 7:54 AM CST
Polymerous, wish I could give you THREE thumbs up for all that great info!
Name: Marilyn, aka "Poly"
South San Francisco Bay Area (Zone 9b)
"The mountains are calling..."
Region: California Garden Photography Garden Procrastinator Daylilies Pollen collector Dog Lover
Moon Gardener Irises Heucheras Vegetable Grower Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Polymerous
Jul 12, 2017 1:33 PM CST
I tip my hat to you. Thank You!
It's daylily season!

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