Daylilies brighten up late spring and early summer

John Young, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.  |  5/21/2009 7:48:03 PM

Sustainable Landscape News Distributed 05/21/09

By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Allen Owings and John Young

Daylilies are one of the most popular flowering plants for late spring and early summer in Louisiana. Gardening shoppers always want daylily information.

Many new flower forms and flower colors are now available. Serious gardeners know the daylily by its scientific name of Hemerocallis, the Greek work for “beauty” and “day.” As the name implies, daylily flowers open for just one day. The best daylilies for today’s landscapes can bloom as long as three months.

Daylilies are low-maintenance. They should be planted in full to partial sun in a well-drained landscape bed, but they can tolerate less-than-ideal soil. Make a slightly raised bed for daylilies by incorporating organic matter. Adjust the soil pH so that it is slightly acid (6.0-6.5), and fertilize the plant in early spring and again in early summer, if needed, to promote vigor.

With the number of daylily varieties available, white and blue are about the only color options you won’t find. In fact, multiple colors are common on a single bloom. Flower shapes also vary.

Daylilies reach a mature height of 1-5 feet depending on the variety. Flower size can range from small flowers of no more than 2 inches across to large flowers that are 8 inches across.

Varieties are classified based on flower color, plant size and other factors. One important classification now commonly used is hardiness type – dormant, semi-evergreen or evergreen.

Dormant daylilies offer little, if any, resistance to cold weather, and foliage will disappear in the winter until new growth emerges from the soil the following spring. Semi-evergreen varieties have foliage that dies down briefly in early winter, but new growth starts re-emerging slowly until more rapid growth starts in early spring. Evergreen daylilies are commonly used now in commercial landscaping efforts. These varieties maintain foliage through the winter in the warmer climates of the Gulf South.

One valuable benefit of daylilies in the landscape is their ability to multiply. Daylily plants increase in size from year to year and can be divided almost any time of the year to produce new plants. A clump of two to three plants may not flower the first year after division, but a clump of five to 10 plants will flower well.

It is difficult to provide a single recommended list of daylilies because so many varieties are available for different climates. Local daylily society chapters may have lists of best performers for various areas. Many daylilies recommended for Louisiana are available at your local retail garden centers.

Come to LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is located near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (La. Highway 30) in Baton Rouge across the street from the new LSU baseball stadium. Go online to Louisiana Yards and Neighborhoods for additional information.

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Editor: Mark Claesgens

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