Miscellaneous Suggestions/Information

 

SUMMER MULCH -

Despite the fact that mulch can foster the growth of slugs and other insects by providing them with an ideal environment, its benefits outweigh its disadvantages. Mulch can be attractive, practical, and environmentally sound. It controls weeds, retains vital moisture, and provides a use for recycled leaf and grass compost.

 

WINTER MULCH -

Sometimes used for tender cultivars. Beneficial to many varieties, especially during winters of extremes and rapid climate changes, although hardy cultivars do not need it. Some hobbyists use leaves, shredded, whole, or composted. Some use hay or alfalfa (but these can sprout). I put down a lot of leaf compost in the summer and apply no winter mulch. By 'winter mulch', we are talking about covering the ground immediately around the daylily leaves and crown-do not cover or bury the plant itself, else the plant might rot.

Do not forget to 'brick' all newly-planted clumps, too, as discussed earlier.

Winter mulch and the dead foliage from last year's growth should be removed relatively early, in my opinion, once the deep freeze periods of winter are over. Here in St. Louis, I start about March 1, weather permitting, to clean out all my beds. Any hard freezes after this point should not pose any real threat to the daylily, other than destroying the ends of new leaf growth. After March 1, I fear the risk of fungus and insect damage from retaining heavy winter mulch and dead foliage from last year past this point is far worse than the risk of freeze damage.

WEEDS -

Daylilies need water. Not only do weeds detract from the visual beauty of your garden, but they compete with daylilies for water. This is especially important in times of low rainfall. A common ragweed plant requires 912 pounds of water for every pound of its foliage. This is an extreme example, but it demonstrates vividly a simple fact: weeds use a tremendous amount of moisture, in addition to competing for nutrients and sunlight.

 

pH -

Many mulches and some fertilizers will tend to lower the soil's pH. Soil with a low pH (acidic) will stunt the growth of daylilies. Limestone pellets is one method for raising the pH. It is easy to find, and relatively cheap to buy. I have heard ideal ranges of 5.7-6.5 or 6.2-6.8. I do not believe you have to be paranoid about this, as long as you check once in awhile to avoid extremes of either below 5.5 or above 7.0.

It is not always easy to determine the pH of soil. Best readings can be obtained through commercial labs, mail-order services, and university extensions. However, soil pH can vary tremendously from flower bed to flower bed, and even within the same bed, depending on the variety soil supplements and mulch you have added. Therefore, I find the typical method of collecting soil samples from various parts of your yard and mixing them together to be tested as one sample, makes sense for general lawn analysis but not for checking the pH of flower beds. And I cannot afford to pay for 20 or so separate tests.

That leaves home devices such as soil test kits and pH meters that you simply stick in the ground for one minute and read the results yourself. With a meter, there is no chemical to run out of, and therefore, no more supplies to buy. I have seen several pH meters on the market, ranging in price from $25 to $200. The problem, however, with most of these home-applied devices is that they are not very accurate. Professionals say they may be worthless.

Therefore you may have a dilemma. Which is best?

  • Obtain expert results for one mixture of samples from multiple beds. (May not be useful)
  • Obtain expert results for multiple samples from multiple beds. (Expensive)
  • Buy an inexpensive pH meter, take many many readings. (Questionable accuracy)
  • Buy an expensive pH meter, take many readings. (Middle accuracy, middle expense)

It depends on your own circumstances. I use an inexpensive pH meter and test every bed at least once a year. I realize the results my not be accurate, but I can at least locate beds that have pH either much higher or lower than the others. In other words, I pay more attentive to the relative values and not the absolute readings. This allows me to pinpoint which spots need professional testing.

 

HERBICIDES -

Ornamec (formerly Fusillade 2000) is a safe 'over-the-top' grass killer. 'Over-the-top' means you can spray it directly on daylilies with no ill effect. Not that you want to do this, but if grass is growing in and among your daylilies, you can go ahead and spray the grass without worrying about hitting the daylilies too. It is harmless, as well, to most other annuals and perennials commonly grown as companion plants. This chemical is made by PBI/Gordon Corporation (1217 12th Street, Box 4090, Kansas City, MO 64101). Toll-free in Missouri: (800) 821-7925.

If you have a problem with nutsedge, there is now a product from Monsanto called Manage. It is safe to use in a daylily bed. In fact it supposedly is very selective and will not kill anything other than nutsedge.

 

GROOMING -

Deadheading (removing yesterday's wilted blooms):

  • Makes your garden look good.
  • Forces you outside, into the garden (which is good for you).
  • Promotes a clean and problem-free environment.

 

HANDLING NEW ACQUISITIONS UPON RECEIPT -

When you receive new plants, it is normal for existing leaves to turn partially yellow due to lack of light during shipment, especially the older, outer leaves. Some sellers believe plants with a dry crown and roots can better withstand the rigors of shipping. Others may ship plants with a slightly wet paper towel or shredded moist paper. I am not yet convinced which is better. More important to me is how long the plant is in transit-and how long it had been dug before they shipped it.

Some daylily hobbyists prefer to soak received plants for a couple of hours in water before planting, and they sometimes add a mild root stimulator (some brand of vitamin B) or even a pesticide or fungicide as a preventative measure. (An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.) However, many commercial sellers treat plants with pesticides and/or fungicides before they ship. Therefore, before treating new plants with either, you probably should first check to see if it has already been done.

Once a new acquisition has been planted, you should withhold watering for about two weeks. (That doesn't mean protecting it against natural rain with an umbrella - just do not apply supplemental water.) Daylilies take up most of their water from fine root hairs. Transplanted daylilies need a little time to redevelop these fine hairs that were damaged when the plant was dug up.

I have heard of a 'trick' to give new roots a jump start. Plant new daylilies (only those shipped bare root) in just sand (temporarily) or sand-amended dirt (permanently). Planting in sand or a sand/soil blend supposedly promotes faster re-growth of these fine root hairs. Additional watering may be required in such cases, especially if planted in 100% sand, but be careful not to over-water; use a meter if you have one.

Avoid planting in midsummer to minimize risk of rot.

Plant the smaller, shorter cultivars in front. My preference is NOT to plant cultivars of similar color next to one another. If you do, I think this will always make one look better, at the expense of the other. Mix colors throughout the garden, so matching colors do not compete with one another.

'Brick' all new plants acquired during the season over the first winter: lay three bricks on the ground, surrounding the crown in a triangular shape, fairly close in. The bricks act like a mulch and provide some buffer from extreme changes in temperature (bricks absorb heat from sun during day and release it at night); it prevents roots from heaving during changes from freezing to thawing; and it provides protection from digging squirrels. I put them down about the time of the first frost and remove them in the spring when I start to clean the beds of dead foliage from the winter.

 

PURCHASING PLANTS -

If you are new to daylilies, start with dormant varieties, because you minimize your chances of obtaining a tender variety.

Resist the temptation to buy daylilies from generic garden catalogs, such as the well-known names we all get during winter. If you do so, you lose control over what you get, the plants are often ordinary, and the price is usually inflated. Certainly this method is expedient for the beginner who has little personal knowledge (especially when there are thousands of daylily cultivars on the market to choose from). It is common to feel overwhelmed in the beginning, but with just a little research-and with help from fellow members in the local club you should join-you can do better than buying from general purpose catalogs.

Start with inexpensive varieties. There are plenty of very good cultivars that are also relatively cheap. By this I mean $5-$15. Prices vary tremendously. It is simply a matter of supply and demand. When a new cultivar is first developed and introduced, the supply can be limited to as few as 15-50 plants. If the cultivar is unique, is desirable, and has been widely advertised, it can command a price as high as $300. But, be warned:

HIGH PRICE does not guarantee HIGH QUALITY, and

LOW PRICE does not mean a "DOG".

Once introduced, plants end up in commercial gardens, as well as at hobbyists' homes. Therefore, in a few years the supply will grow, bringing the price down. The point is that, for the average daylily home gardener, the best strategy is to avoid new introductions. Wait until a cultivar's supply increases and wait to see what kind of growing success the cultivar has across the country. A cultivar may grow great where it originated, but it may not thrive elsewhere.

As a consequence of waiting for older plants, you can find many that are reasonably priced. By this I mean under $15. There are even many very good ones under $5. Do not expect, though, to be able to pick up one catalog with all 40,000+ cultivars listed, with pictures of each. The best way to find out what you want is to visit other daylily gardens and see for yourself. Then price your wish list and make choices. (All the more reason for joining a local club.)

In recent years, an annual publication called Eureka Hemerocallis has been published by a couple in North Carolina. You can write to them for their current price c/o Eureka Hemerocallis, 10 Quail Creek, Granite Falls, NC 28630. They also maintain a web site. Their book compiles daylilies offered for sale by 50 or so of the nation's leading sellers. Not only you can find who is selling a particular cultivar you may be looking for, but you can also see who has it at the cheapest price. Be warned, however, that, as in many other things in life, the cheapest price may not represent the best buy. Knowing your supplier's reputation is also important. Cheapest price may mean one fan instead of two. Even two fans can be no bargain if they are small and weak.

Many of the best hybridizers are in Florida, but there are certainly many famous and great ones elsewhere. Why is Florida a good location for a commercial hybridizer? They can get new seedlings to go from seed to bloom in one year instead of two, and once they produce some new desirable variety, they can propagate it much faster and bring it to market earlier, because of the longer growing season.

I mention this because many daylilies are now born in the South, and a daylily grown in Florida may not look exactly the same in Missouri or some place else "up north." It may look better; it may look worse. It may grow better or it may grow worse. In fact it may not grow where you live at all. The advice, therefore, is that unless you are a serious collector or hybridizer who just "has to have" the latest introduction from some other part of the country, it is better to buy from growers in your same general area. Let someone else learn what grows well where you live.

 

LABELS-

You should get in the habit of labeling any plant you add to your garden, but please make sure you do so for at least your daylilies. Ideally, the label should be both readily visible as well as unobtrusive. You want visitors to know what they are looking at, but you do not want the labels making your garden look ugly. It can be hard to achieve both simultaneously. There are many commercial varieties. Many gardeners make their own. Old Venetian blinds are sometimes used. I have even seen hand-painted small rocks that looked nice and worked well.

Although there are no set rules, I think the labels should include the name of the hybridizer and the year in which the plant was register, in addition to, of course, the name of the cultivar itself.

Engraved labels are among the nicest yet most expensive ways to mark your plants, however, there is one company who sells at only 1/3 the price of normal engraving shops and caters to plant growers. That company is AAA Quality Engravers, 5754 Oxford Place, New Orleans, LA 70131, or (504) 361-3944. Email AAA Engravers

logo for AAA Quality Engravers

EDIBLE DAYLILIES (and a cat warning)

There is much talk about daylilies being edible, and that's quite true, although I don't know many people today who do so. There are even a number of collections of daylily recipes.

I have heard, however, that daylilies may be poisonous to cats, but only house cats. According to the ASPCA National Poison Control Center, as reported by Linda Sample, DVM, Easter lilies and daylilies are toxic, but only to house cats. For them, an ingested daylily bloom or leaf can cause renal failure and death. So if you have house cats, you may want to avoid bringing daylilies into the house. Apparently there have been no toxicities reported in cats that are allowed outside access. Go figure.

GARDEN MANNERS

Whenever you visit another person's garden, you should remember that it belongs to your host and you should act accordingly. There are a number of rules, which are simply common sense guidelines that everyone needs reminding of once in awhile.

When part of a tour, do not expect personal treatment. For tours, cameras are in-tripods are out. Close-ups? Use a zoom lens. Never, ever step into the beds. Do not even think of asking permission to do so. The only feet that belong in a bed are those of the owner. If the garden is not your idea of Eden, button your lip. Do not be hypocritical: surely there's at least something to admire.

When asked to name the things their gardens can do without, hosts often list briefcases, handbags, camera tripods, high-heeled shoes, umbrellas, dogs and small children. Expert photographers often insist on tripods, and maybe a gray or white umbrella, when making flower portraits. If you want a photography session beyond simple snapshots, arrange a date when the garden will be otherwise empty.

There's always an exception to every rule, and that is the case here too. A host, of course, can invite or allow a violation of any rule, but that is his or her option, not yours. For example, I often illustrate the heavy substance of many cultivars, by having a guest handle a bloom. But I admit that I would be uncomfortable having every guest indiscriminately grabbing whatever they might want to. I host an open garden on weekdays when I am at work, and would hate to think that un-escorted visitors would fail to follow this etiquette.

The Ten Commandments of Garden Courtesy:

 

1. Unless you are part of a tour or know that the garden is open to unannounced guests, make an appointment by calling ahead and finding out if your visit will be welcome.

2. Leave pets and young children at home. Bring older children only with permission and keep them under close supervision at all times.

3. Leave purses in your car and use camera tripods only with permission and never when part of a large tour group.

4. Never ask to use the bathroom. Take care of that before you arrive or leave if you must.

5. Use only established walkways and do not step into or across flower beds.

6. Leave spent blooms alone and never deadhead without permission. The dead bloom you want to pick might be a pollination cross.

7. When it comes to the daylilies themselves, the four 'P's are sacred.
Thou shalt not touch, pinch, snip, or snitch any:
PLANT, PROLIFERATION, POD, or POLLEN.

8. Honor the host's need to attend to chores (such as hybridizing or visiting with other guests) and do not attempt to monopolize his time.

9. Never smoke, bring food or drink, or litter.

10. Be careful how and where you park your car. Do not run over grass or block driveways.

VIOLATORS SHALL BE COMPOSTED !!

READING DAYLILY CATALOGS

While general-purpose perennial catalogs target a general audience and, therefore, are easier for the uninitiated to read, you should not be buying daylilies from such catalogs.

Specialty daylily catalogs expect their audience to be better informed and, therefore, they use more abbreviations and shorthand that may be difficult to follow, unless you 'know the code.' Take the following fictitious cultivar as an example of what you might see in a catalog:

* BUYME (Eiseman '12) 26" SEV EM 6" VF Re JC

If there is no mention of Tetraploid (often abbreviated 'Tet') or diploid ("Dip"), then you can assume the cultivar is diploid. However, as in this example, many catalogs will place an asterisk before the name to indicate a Tet. Thus, this fictitious cultivar is Tetraploid, because of the asterisk.

The cultivar's name, in this fictitious example: BUYME, should always be listed in capital letters.

Following the cultivar's name, in parentheses, is the name of the person who hybridized the and registered the cultivar with the AHS. The cited year is the year in which the cultivar was registered with the AHS.

The 26" refers to the height of the bloom scape (stalk). The is useful for determining where to plant the daylily in your garden.

While daylilies tend to bloom at roughly the same time, each cultivar is slightly different. The notation 'EM' refers to 'early-middle', the time, relative to other cultivars, when you can expect this particular cultivar to bloom. Possible categories of this bloom sequence category include:

EE-Extra Early
E-Early
EM-Early Midseason
M-Midseason
ML-Mid Late
L-Late
VL-Very Late

The flower's diameter is listed at six inches.

'VF' means that the cultivar is usually 'very' fragrant-by daylily standards. In fact, even fragrant daylilies are not very fragrant, relative to other flowers and relative to what you would probably desire.

'Re' means the cultivar is likely to rebloom.

'JC' means the cultivar attracted attention by garden visitors when it was still being evaluated in the hybridizer's garden, prior to naming, prior to registration with the AHS, and prior to distribution.

Other characteristics are often optionally listed, but they are described better and do not rely as heavily on esoteric abbreviations.

GUEST PLANTS

Guest plants are ones sent to other gardens to be displayed and/or evaluated.

They are frequently sent as guests to gardens that will be on tour at National conventions or Regional meetings. Guesting plants allows as many people as possible to have a chance to see these new cultivars. The most important distinction between guest plants and the bonus or gift plants you receive when you place an order is that the guest plants remain the property of the individual who sent the plant (usually the hybridizer), while the bonus plants are your property, to do with as you wish.

Conditions of the loan (guidelines for how the guests are to be treated) are determined by the person making the loan, and they vary, but the following are typical: give the very best care you can, label clearly, plant in a prominent position so they will be seen, and do not divide, sell, share, or use the plants for hybridizing. Some hybridizers will allow the grower to use the pollen, but perhaps not to set pods. In all cases, the guest remains the property of the hybridizer, who can ask to have it returned at any time. (The grower is frequently allowed to keep one or two fans, but not always.) There is obviously a significant ethical commitment involved on the part of the grower, and guesting plants involves a mutual trust and respect between grower and hybridizer. Well-known hybridizers rarely have sufficient stock to send around as guests except to National Convention Tour gardens; they will occasionally send plants to be evaluated in totally different areas of the country, to see how their babies perform in completely different growing conditions. In these cases, the growers are usually ones with whom the hybridizer has a long-standing relationship. Lesser known hybridizers, however, are often eager to have as many people as possible see their new cultivars, which they may be very proud of, and are often much more receptive to requests for guest plants for regional conventions, etc.

CONFUSED BY ANY TERM MENTIONED HERE OR IN A CATALOG ?
Visit the following DAYLILY DICTIONARY, which is a part of the American Hemerocallis Society's home site. DAYLILY DICTIONARY

picture of mulch

 

 

picture of deadheading daylilies

 

 

a daylily garden label

 

 

a daylily garden label