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Daylilies putting on quite a show
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Gardeners, get your checkbooks out and start shopping for daylilies. Ideal planting time was a couple months ago, but daylilies are blooming everywhere now, and this will aid you in making your selections.
I'll confess that in the past, I have looked at daylilies with tunnel vision. I have only wanted those that give the best landscape impact for massing as a bedding plant. For this type of use, one has to admit that Stella d Oro is No. 1.
There are thousands of spectacular daylilies for sale, some even approaching the price of my first car. But there is nothing prettier than a daylily garden that looks like a changing kaleidoscope of color for weeks.
There are a lot of great daylilies, some which bloom early, some mid-season and some bloom late. Some even have repeat blooms. Stella is the first and probably the last blooming in the landscape. But it is time to branch out or increase the palette, so to speak.
I just had the opportunity to visit with a local gardener who had the prettiest red one I had ever seen. I asked the name and it surprised me as it is as hot as today's news. The name was Spiderman, and growing next to it was a giant yellow daylily called Spider Web.
If you haven't tried daylilies because the flowers only last a day, consider that each scape or flower stalk has many buds and these open in a series. This gives you beauty not only days, but weeks or even months if they repeat.
Daylilies require at least six hours of direct sunlight each day for best performance. You get the best results from raised beds that are rich in organic matter. Almost every problem call I get on daylilies, other than a few insect problems, originate with daylilies planted in soggy soil.
Be sure to add a good layer of mulch to hold moisture, keep the soil cool and to prevent weeds. I am a pine straw nut for mulch, but I have to admit that a layer of pine bark mulch around a daylily loaded with blooms is a wonderful sight.
Daylilies are best planted in the early spring or fall, although container-grown plants can be planted throughout the growing season with outstanding success. This means you can shop now while they are blooming and pick the color and form that is most appealing to you.
To keep the plant's energy directed into flower production, keep seed pods picked off and feed with a complete and balanced fertilizer every four to six weeks.
Daylilies work well in special gardens by themselves or as part of the perennial border where they can be combined with flowers like purple coneflowers and black-eyed Susans.
Try growing yellow to gold selections to the rear of a bed with Purple Wave petunias planted in front. Or plant Purple Heart in front and you will have a bed that will return year after year in much of the state. My favorite way to use them is planted in drifts with perennial salvia like Victoria Blue or Indigo Spires.
Daylilies look at home when combined in beds with ornamental grasses like Fountain or Maiden Grass, and they are breathtaking when planted in front of evergreen shrubs like hollies or junipers.
When shopping, you may feel like some daylilies are a little pricey, but to me, they are some of the "sirloin strips" of the plant world. What is extra special is that these are perennials and before too long, you will be dividing it and placing them in more parts of the landscape. Visit you local garden center or daylily farm now.