Thursday, July 7, 2016

To Deadhead or Not to Deadhead, That is the Question!

"Stella de Oro" self cleans of old flowers about as good as
any daylily but if you want it to bloom longer:  deadhead.
I always try to talk a little about deadheading daylilies each summer.  (Check out previous articles if you're really into learning more.)  Typically, someone always asks if daylilies must be deadheaded.  The one answer is "NO" and then why you should.

Deadheading is snapping off yesterday's spent bloom right below the dead flower.  This will prevent a seed head from forming.  

A little finesse and planning insures you don't break off new buds in the process.  

Here are some other reasons to deadhead daylilies:

Sloppy old flower heads can cause new lilies to not fully open by laying on them or crowding.

It provides an opportunity every day to look at your daylilies.  It's pleasure and preventative because you catch any problems immediately.
"Chloe" deadheaded this morning.

"Chloe" prior to being deadheaded.
If you like to take pictures of your garden plants, a plant with dead flowers detracts.

A seed head will form where the dead flower is and it will take away energy from the plant and shorten the bloom time.
"Chester Cyclone" after deadheading this morning.

"Chester Cyclone" before deadheading.  
Large daylilies really have a lot of heavy moisture in them and can pull down the scape making all future flowers on the ground.

Some red and purple wilted daylilies bleed color over most anything near, including other flowers/plants/sidewalks/etc.  The dye in them is so powerful it will stain clothing and skin.
"Wayside King Royal" will absolutely drip purple/red die
from yesterday's lily all over my hands and clothes.  
Visually, it distracts from the beauty of the plant. 

Be careful deadheading really early in the morning unless you know your plant's bloom habits.  Some lilies are slow to open.  I have "Party Queen" that is never in full bloom until at least noon.  Others have new buds and day-old buds that look very similar.  One way to test "most" of them is to gently and slightly squeeze the bud near where it attaches the stem.  If it feels firm, don't deadhead.  If it is very soft, it's probably yesterday's flower.

That being said, if you dead head in the morning, your plants will look beautiful the entire day.  
"Siloam Ury Winniford" is about as nocturnal as
a daylily can get.  A sturdy little powerhouse.
Some lilies are semi nocturnal.  Some stay open all day plus most of the night.  A few will have both yesterday and today's flowers blooming in the morning hours.  Others may open before dawn; slowly opening as the night progresses into day.

Hope this helps if you decide to deadhead your daylilies.  It's a matter of personal choice and preference.   

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