Growing Daylilies

I can think of few plants that are as easy to grow as the daylily. When gardeners ask me to recommend no fail perennials, daylilies are always at the top of the list. Give them full sun and they will produce seemingly endless waves of trumpet shaped flowers. And if you choose early, mid- and late-season blooming varieties you will reap these rewards well into summer.

Daylily HyperionIn my garden, I grow the variety 'Hyperion'. It is an old timer, dating back to the 1930s. I like the long, elegant scapes that often reach 44 - 46 inches tall topped with clear yellow, lightly fragrant blooms. The flowers tower above many of the other plants in my garden and move gently with the slightest breeze.

'Barbara Mitchell' is another daylily that I grow. While it doesn't date back as far as 'Hyperion' it has earned accolades for its soft pink blooms and robust nature. I have it planted under the canopy of a large elm tree. In spite of the dappled shade, this daylily is a champion that never falls short.

Daylilies are excellent for slopes, massed in beds and along foundations. It seems that the only requirement is that they receive at least 6 hours of direct sun a day. And even this rule can be bent. While white, yellow and pastel varieties need full sun to bring out their color, darker varieties favor light shade during the hottest part of the day.

When planting daylilies mound the soil in the bed around each plant about 1 inch above ground level so rainwater will run off. Bury the crown (where the leaves and roots meet) about a half inch below the surface and space them about 10 to 12 inches apart. Even though daylilies aren't particular about soil conditions, it is a good idea to add some compost to your garden soil. If you have heavy clay, compost will help improve the drainage and if you garden in sandy soil, adding compost will help retain moisture.

New additions to the garden should be watered consistently during the first growing season to establish an extensive root system.

One characteristic of daylilies that appeals to me is that they multiply over time and can be divided to share with friends or plant elsewhere in the garden. I've found that the late summer is an excellent time of the year to tackle the job of dividing daylilies. It gives them an opportunity to settle in before the shorter days and colder temperatures of fall set in.

There's really nothing to dividing daylilies. Just carefully lift the clumps with a sharp shovel and gently remove the soil from the roots so you can begin to see the individual plants. Then with a sharp knife separate each plant and remove any foliage that appears dead or diseased.

Next cut off the foliage down to about half of its length and they're ready for transplanting back into the garden.

Whether it is an old standby or a newly developed cultivar, give daylilies a try in your garden. They are the perfect complement to the summer perennial border.

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