Tuesday, March 15, 2011

L is for Lily

H. Barbara Mitchell 
If you've read my articles for any length of time or depth, you know I have a bad case of "Daylily Madness"!  I've written almost twenty articles on daylily topics and another on hybrid lilies.  No one can say I'm "lily livered" or "weak as a lily" about this topic.  As a result, I've been mulling over simply not revisiting lilies for the alphabetical line-up of "L".  In the end, who can resist - apparently not I.

H. Lunar Max
What makes a daylily crazed person?  I'd say the ease and hardiness rank right up there with the beauty.  Plant a variety of daylilies and the garden will be in bloom from summer through fall.  Here are the boundaries of daylilies:
  • The name:  Hemerocallis is the name of daylilies and you will see that at the beginning of the flower's name or simply an "H".  There are virtually thousands of named (registered) daylies.
  • Price:  Gardeners often share starts of daylilies and that falls under the "free" category.  On the other hand, newly hybridized daylilies may run in the hundreds of dollars for one fan.  Big cost does not necessarily mean big happiness. 
  • Color:  Daylilies started out as orange and yellow and later a pink.  Today, they expand on most every color of the rainbow except a true blue and I expect that barrier to be broke in the near future.
  • Height:  Daylilies scapes (stems) may be a short twelve inches and the hybridizers are working on breeding scapes taller than six feet.  Today's averages run 18 - 36 inches.
  • Size of bloom:  Diminutive 1 inch flowers to almost a foot in width are in the offering today.  
  • Bloom form:  Doubles, spiders, curled, ruffled, unusuals, flat, and the list expands every season.
  • Pattern:  Single color to many different combinations deliberately hybridized.  Edges and throats and everything in between are of different colors and hues.  Surfaces may be pearl dusted, velvet and more.
  • Foliage:  Obviously green and now in stripes, blue-green, light or dark green, and different habits, heights, and width.
  • Hardiness:  Evergreen, Semi Evergreen and Dormant are the three most common.  It can be a confusing category and not always a dependable way of choosing one that will survive in your zone.
  • Availability:  The "orange ditch lily" known officially as Hemerocallis Kwanso double or the single H. Orange Tawny is free for the digging in this area and over most of the U.S.  Every garden store and nursery in this area has at least a H. Stella de Oro for sale and generally more.  On-line stores & catalogs have many many more.
  • Pests:  Let's just say there are some (more in some areas of the country) but most of us never have big problems.  It is very important to keep the roots from rotting.  Good sanitation in your garden is your best defence. 
  • Needs:  Average garden soil (although they enjoy and prosper with enriched good soil), full sun (some do well in semi shade), average water & most will do fine except during drought  (never let them sit in wet soggy clay), fertilize prior to blooming for more & larger blooms (will do alright without), deadhead blooms daily for a clean appearance (will do fine if you don't), mulch gently to suppress weeds, gently rake out dead after danger of spring frost (for a cleanliness), cut back foliage after blooming and the leaves will come back fresh looking (don't do this on re bloomers or if you don't care about a few tattered leaves).           
  • Oddities:  Some dark colors will fade in the hot afternoon sun.  Different soil types will affect the color (pinks may be peach for example).  Large lilies may not withstand strong winds without shredding that day's bloom.  Some flowers rain spot.  Some bloom over most of the summer - some re bloom and most over several weeks.   Some send up scapes with several buds, others have branching on scapes with each having buds.  Some lilies spread while others stay in a clump.   

H. Wind Frills
In the eye of the beholder?  Yep, beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to daylilies.  That faint lavender-pink may be your favorite and I may consider it boring.  Your bright orange seven inch spider may be the thrill of your garden and I may consider it garish.  Who cares!  There are enough daylilies and daylily versions for all of us to be happy.

H. Miss Tinkerbell
The fact of the matter - daylily madness is a pretty wonderful garden problem and I'm willing to share!
An unknown pink double

No comments:

Post a Comment