How to Look After Hemerocallis or the Daylily

Daylilies are so called because each individual flower does last only a day. Plants can be grown in any part of the garden, but they perform best in reasonably moist soil, which means that they can make luxuriant additions to any bog garden. The appeal of these plants is added to by the fact that they are so easy to grow and propagate.

Hemerocallis has come in for a great deal of attention over the past century from hybridists in Europe and North America. A few keen growers in the early 1900s raised many beautiful varieties. This encouraged dozens of other hybridists to have a go’, and several thousand named forms have since been created. Many have disappeared from cultivation because they were surpassed in excellence by newer forms. Even so, there are well over 300 varieties available to the gardener today (and many more still in the USA, where certain sections of the gardening community regard them as cult plants).

A red and yellow Daylily. Daylilies fall into ...

A red and yellow Daylily. Daylilies fall into the Hemerocallis genus plants. This color combination is generally called a Red Magic lily. Français : Une fleur d'hémérocalle rouge et jaune. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The individual trumpet-shaped flowers are not particularly attractive in their own right, particularly when they are a day old and are on the wane. The real beauty is when you see a mass of flowers. The varieties that produce flowers of a single colour are more attractive than those that have their main colour concentrated inside the trumpet, where it can only be seen if the flower is looked at end on. Also, nearly all the yellow varieties are scented, whereas most of the others are lacking this attribute.

The single coloured flowers, where the colour is repeated on the outside of the trumpet, give a much more effective impression and make a more impressive statement in a border. But beware of some of the ‘red’ varieties (there is no true scarlet or carmine yet available): they can look very scrappy en masse and add nothing positive to the overall effect of the border.

The rushy leaves are a feature in their own right in spring: the brightest of greens, arching and growing almost 3cm (1 in) a day. At flowering time the leaves are fully complementary to the trumpet flowers, which are produced on smooth stems.

Although there are several species available, these tend to be found only in specialists’ gardens or nurseries. The earliest to show colour, in late spring, is the dwarf species Hemerocallis dumortierii, which has yellow flowers lasting for several weeks. H. citrina and H. lilioasphodelus are charming, fragrant yellow species for late spring and early summer. Another species of note, H, multiflora, produces pale orange-yellow flowers in great profusion from midsummer to mid-autumn.

The following is a list of some of the best garden hybrids. H. ‘Orangeman’, first bred in 1906, has deep orange coloured flowers. H. ‘Hyperion’ was introduced over 50 years ago, and is still in demand for its clear colour and large yellow flowers; a newer and outstanding yellow colour is the hybrid H. ‘Lark Song’. Then there is

H. ‘Black Magic’, with its deep ruby mahogany flowers; H. ‘Contessa’, which produces light orange blooms; H. ‘Bonanza’, with its soft yellow colour but a dwarf hybrid, matching well with the deeper coloured H. ‘Golden Chimes’, which is also dwarf.

H. ‘Dubloon’ (sometimes sold as ‘Golden Orchid’) produces rich golden coloured flowers. The old variety H. ‘Pink Damask’ still holds its own as one of the closest daylilies to true pink. Other excellent forms include H. ‘Little Wine Cup’, which has burgundy red blooms with a yellow throat; H. ‘Cream Drop’, with its small, creamy yellow flowers; H. ‘Buzz Bomb’, which is a deep, velvety red, and H. ‘Chartreuse Magic’, which produces canary yellow and green flowers.

There are only a handful of double-flowered varieties, and they do not generally add much to the range. Arguably the best double Hemerocallis is H. fulva ‘Fiore Pleno’, with its reddish orange coloured flowers.

Daylilies can be planted at any time from mid-autumn until mid-spring. The soil should be enriched in advance, and when fully established some general fertilizer and mulching in spring will help in the production of fine flowers.

The preferred site for most Hemerocallis would be to plant them in full sun or light shade (heavy shade can often depress flower production). Most soils are tolerated, but these plants perform best in fairly rich, loamy soil.

Maintenance is fairly easy. Cut back any dead flowerstalks to the base, as soon as the last flowers on them have faded. Cut away all foliage, right back to soil level, in the autumn. If you leave this, then the foliage will simply turn to an untidy mess over winter.

For propagation, lift and divide overgrown plants in autumn or spring. Alternatively, sow seed in containers in a cold frame or greenhouse in autumn or spring.

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21. March 2012 by admin
Categories: Lilium, Water Gardening/Water Features | Tags: , | Comments Off on How to Look After Hemerocallis or the Daylily

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