Hello! Is there a holy-grail emoji I could post? Because I think that's what I'm looking for.
I'm an experienced perennial gardener, but new around these parts, and trying to figure out the world of modern daylilies. I fell in love last year with pictures of hallucinogenically fancy Florida-bred daylilies with complex patterns and textured edges. Who knew boring old daylilies could look like THAT? When I started researching for purchase, though, I came to understand how unlikely they were to perform well in my zone 7a Maryland garden. We've got freeze-thaw cycling winters without snow cover that mean true dormancy is preferable. We have hot humid summers that encourage fungal problems, so rust would definitely be a problem for me.
So I started looking for breeders making tougher fancies...and I've got sticker shock! Holy cow, you daylily folks are SERIOUS about your hobby! My last foray into buying recent introductions from specialty plant breeders was irises, where the really expensive plants are $75 and everything is $6-8 five years later, so I was pretty astonished by daylily prices and how long they stay high. (Side curiosity: I wonder why there's such a difference between the two communities? Both plants take about 2 years to bloom from seed, as I understand it. Is it the better commercialization potential for daylilies?)
And there's just so many! And so much non-representative photography! After months of being overwhelmed while I search and obsess and try to learn, I've decided to ask the experts here for help. I understand that these are all characteristics that justifiably drive up the price of a daylily, but I'm hoping maybe you folks can recommend fancy, hardy, rust-resistant plants I could get for $25 or under. Oh, and long-blooming. Almost forgot.
My main reason to hope this is possible is that I'm not looking for a highly specific color profile and I'm not looking to breed. Fertility and genetic possibilities are utterly unimportant to me. I'm just looking for great garden performance and fascinating flowers. I like any color besides saturated bright yellows (I prefer softer yellows), ditch-lily bright oranges, or burgundy reds. I adore diamond dusting and glitter. I'm a SUCKER for picotee edges and complex blending on any type of flower in my garden. I like substance and strength, and tend to prefer wide petals over spider types, but I'm spider-flexible. I can accommodate most heights in my garden.
So, any suggestions for plants I can afford...or how to ask my boss for a raise?