Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Confusing Terms

Daylily "Royal Butterfly"

Most of us learn our gardening skills from education and experience. Have you ever noticed experience always seems to have a high price in the garden?

Daylilies (Hemerocallis) do not have "hardiness" zone tolerant ratings like other perennials. They are classified as Dormant, Evergreen and Semi evergreen.

To make matters more confusing, these terms do not have the same meaning as perennials. Here are the meanings when referring to daylily leaf habit:

Dormant: The leaves of these plants die completely back as winter approaches. They stop growing and form resting buds at the crown as the leaves die naturally back. In the spring, the buds have a spear like appearance as they appear.

Evergreen: These plants retain their foliage throughout the year and do not form resting buds. In mild climates, (not Zone 5) they keep producing leaves all year. In more harsh climates, the freezing temperatures will kill the foliage back but the crown will survive if it is "cold hardy" and heavily mulched.

Semi evergreen: This term was originally used to describe anything in between Dormant and Evergreen. It was plants that adapted to both climates - sometimes.

Cold hardiness is not determined by leaf habit only. Basically, the only way to determine if a daylily will survive in the climate of your garden is to buy ONLY from dealers who have grown or buy from nurseries who grow plants in your same climate.

Dormant will "usually" be an indicator a plant will be more freeze hardy but not always. Sometimes an Evergreen plant is as tough as iron but not usually. And, Semi evergreens are a toss up on what hardiness traits they possess.

The reason I'm sharing this information is I lost my first two daylilies this winter even though they were heavily mulched. They both were Evergreen. They both were bought from nurseries farther south than our Zone 5.

Lesson learned - experience gained - money gone.

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