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Daylilies

How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Daylilies

The dainty Daylilies have been delighting gardeners with their abundant charm and agreeability for centuries. Daylily comes from the genus Hemerocallis in the Asphodelaceae family. Its botanical name translates to "beauty for a day", an obvious allusion to the day-long lifespan of daylily flowers, most of which tend to wither away within about 24 hours of blooming, often replaced by another from the same stalk the following day. Daylilies are native to parts of eastern Asia, including China, Japan and Korea. Daylily flowers come in a wide array of forms and sizes and a breathtaking spectrum of colors that includes orange, pink, purple, red and yellow.

When you receive your field-grown daylily roots:

Your daylilies are shipped bareroot. The plants are field grown and have been harvested recently.

If you don't have time to plant immediately, keep the daylily roots in their original bags at about 40°F [5°C] for no longer than three weeks. The vegetable drawer of a refrigerator is ideal for this purpose.

Quick planting, however, will give the best results. Daylilies harvested in late summer for fall planting are best planted before the first frost of fall. Daylilies for spring planting are best planted in early to mid spring.

It's possible that the daylilies will have sprouted during shipment. This is quite normal and will not affect the growth of your plants. If this has occurred, we suggest that you trim the shoots back to approximately 1-2" immediately after unpacking.

Don't worry if the roots appear to be dry when they arrive. We suggest you soak the roots in cold to lukewarm water for about 30 minutes prior to planting. Fall-planted daylilies will form additional new roots this fall, immediately after planting.

Site selection--where to plant your daylilies:

Choose a site with the following characteristics:

  1. Full sun to partial shade (for instance, morning sun and afternoon shade, or dappled sun throughout the day). Daylilies need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to bloom.
  2. Neutral to slightly alkaline soil. Daylilies tolerate a wide range of pH, but soil with a pH of 6.5-7 is ideal. Adjusting the pH is normally not necessary.
  3. Moist, well-drained soil of any type, from clay to sand. Daylilies tolerate a wide variety of soils but perform best in those that are moist and well drained.

Preparing the site/working the soil:

It's worth taking the time to dig a proper hole and amend the soil. You'll get bigger, healthier plants with more flowers.

  1. Spade or rototill the soil to a depth of 12-15".
  2. Mix in a generous 2-4" layer of dehydrated manure, garden compost and Breck's Food for Bulbs and Perennials.

If your soil is already rich garden loam and well drained, the addition of Breck's Food for Bulbs and Perennials will provide the ideal conditions recommended by Breck's Dutch bulb experts for superior growth and blooming.

If you have a clay soil, you may need to amend for drainage. A good solution is to mix compost and rock dust or crushed stone into your soil.

If you have sandy soil, amend with compost and possibly clay to increase the retention of nutrients. This will also help to better retain moisture.

Planting:

Soak the roots in cold to lukewarm water for about 30 minutes prior to planting. Spread the roots of the plant out and cover with soil so that no more than 1" (2.5 cm) of soil covers the crown (the point where the root meets the stem). Firm the soil and water thoroughly.

Mulching/Winter protection:

A year-round mulch of compost, leaf mold, leaves or commercial types of mulch has a positive effect on your daylilies by keeping the soil from drying out, maintaining a more even soil temperature, providing organic matter for an optimal structure of the soil and reducing weed growth. It also prevents soil from splashing onto the flowers and foliage.

For the first winter, we advise you to put a thick, 4-6" layer of mulch over your freshly planted daylilies to prevent roots from being heaved out of the ground by alternate freezing and thawing weather.

Evergreen daylilies are in general less hardy than semi-evergreen and dormant varieties. Remove most of the winter mulch in spring, being careful not to damage young growth.

Continuing care:

A surface application of Breck's Food for Bulbs and Perennials is recommended each spring. In poor soils, plants may benefit from a second application in late spring or early summer. If natural rainfall is less than 1" (2.5 cm) per week, additional watering is recommended.

We suggest you remove spent flowers on a regular basis, for instance, once a week. Deadheading is the practice of removing old flowers before they have a chance to produce seeds. It encourages your daylilies to put their energies into producing more flowers, thereby promoting an extended display of form and colour in the garden.

After the first frosts of fall blacken the foliage, you may cut it back to just above ground level and discard, but this is not necessary.

Once your dormant daylilies are established, annual winter mulching is not necessary as winter protection for the dormant types, but it's beneficial for the evergreen and semi-evergreen varieties.

Once planted, your daylilies can be left to grow undisturbed for at least 4 to 6 years. Don't be disappointed, however, if your daylilies fail to bloom the first year. It usually takes one year for a daylily to settle.

Daylilies in pots:

Daylilies do well in containers as long as they have enough room to grow. The smaller the variety, the better it will grow in a pot. As a rule, you shouldn't plant full-sized daylilies in anything smaller than a gallon container. The bigger the pot the better. Be sure your pots have drainage holes so that the pots do not fill with water as this will cause daylilies to rot. If using a commercial potting mix, choose one with extra porosity. Containers can be moved indoors during the winter in areas with frost, particularly severe frost. This is advisable in the case of evergreen and semi-evergreen varieties. Frost can of course also damage the containers. You do not need to worry so much about the temperature of a room or basement as daylilies do not need a certain period of colder temperatures (vernalization). If weather permits, move the container outside, which is always best for the plants.

Dividing:

The easiest and most successful way of creating more daylilies is to divide them. Every 4-6 years you can divide your daylilies and replant them to make more beds or to share with friends. Spring or early fall is the best time to divide and replant. Dig up the plant and divide it into pieces by carefully cutting through the crown with a spade or sharp knife. Each piece should have at least one fan or eye (sprout).

Transplanting:

Transplanting a daylily is best done in the fall or early spring. To lift an established daylily, loosen the plant from the soil with a large garden fork or spade, work your way around the plant, and gently pry it from the ground. Replant as soon as possible. If you cannot replant immediately, prevent the roots from drying out.

Diseases and Pests:

Daylilies are among the toughest perennials and exhibit excellent disease resistance. However, the leaves of a daylily could turn brown after blooming in the summer. This is called 'streak disease.' Streak is a fungus that causes plants, especially the leaves, to turn brown and ugly after blooming, but it doesn't do permanent damage to the plants. Oftentimes leaf streak is a cosmetic problem, causing little damage. The pathogen is a fungus called Aureobasidium microstictum. If streak affects your daylilies, remove infected leaves as they appear and fertilize and water your plants properly to promote growth of new leaves. Remove dead leaves from your daylilies each fall to eliminate a source of leaf streak fungus. If a plant suffers from severe leaf streak, every year you can apply fungicides containing chlorothalonil, mancozeb or thiophanate-methyl to prevent the disease.

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