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All-American daylilies offer beauty and more
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The All-American Daylily Selection Council recently announced the 2005 additions to its growing family of winners. Red Volunteer, a striking crimson, is the 2005 winner in the exhibition category. Miss Mary Mary, a petite gold, won in the landscape category.
Though still young in its existence, the council is becoming more well known and respected. In 2001, rust resistance was added as one of the key test criteria. In selecting for "bulletproof" performance, the AADSC has eliminated many of the highly susceptible varieties from its program and focused on identifying and promoting the most rust-resistant daylily varieties.
The 2005 All-American varieties are tried-and-true cultivars with test scores that earned them the AADSC's top honor. Both 2005 winners offer a unique combination of beauty, performance and flexibility, making them superior additions to any garden.
Red Volunteer's velvety crimson beauty is striking. With majestic 7-inch blooms atop 29- to 33-inch-tall stems, this daylily provides a stately presentation for mid- to back-border placement. The scapes are strong and very well-branched, producing plentiful, rich, tailored-form blooms. Red Volunteer, a rust-resistant beauty, blooms mid-season and continues its deep, rich color display for six to eight weeks.
Miss Mary Mary looks much like its parent plant, Stella de Oro. Miss Mary Mary performs with a blooming habit like Stella, but is more heat-tolerant and rust-resistant than its well-known parent.
Very early in the season, Miss Mary Mary offers single-petalled, small, gold blooms on 12- to 17-inch stems. Then fluffy, double-petalled blooms begin appearing with increasing number on repeat bloom scapes throughout the summer and until frost.
A wonderfully compact border plant, Miss Mary Mary is 12 to 16 inches tall by 18 to 22 inches wide and has grassy winter dormant foliage. It offers excellent rust resistance, is cold hardy and heat tolerant, and displays a near continuous blooming performance.
There are more than 48,000 daylilies registered, bred in at least 25 states, by hundreds of individual hybridizers. Using its elaborate testing program, the AADSC sorts through the thousands of registered daylilies and awards the coveted title of All-American to only the top performers across five USDA hardiness zones.
Each year's scores are measured against all previous test data in order to ensure that the All-Americans truly are the best performers in their color category. Daylilies are tested for at least two years, with All-American finalists being grown for another three to five years in open field conditions before being announced.
Daylilies require at least six hours of direct sunlight each day for best performance. Best results come from raised beds that are rich in organic matter. Almost every problem call I get on daylilies, other than a few insect problems, originates with daylilies planted in soggy soil.
Be sure to add a good layer of mulch to hold moisture, keep the soil cool and prevent weeds. I am a nut for pine straw 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.
Backed by scientifically proven superior performance nationwide, All-American Daylilies are becoming America's preferred perennial. Look for them at your garden center this spring.