'Matt's Gift'

Add a cheery yellow dash to any border with the ruffled blooms of “Matt’s Gift.” A soft fragrance makes plants even nicer to have in the garden.

Daylilies are one of the most diverse and colorful perennials you can add to your garden.

Daylilies are easy to grow, and they’re everywhere: The neighbor’s backyard, city hall and even in the ditch. But that doesn’t mean they’re just a boring flower that fills empty space!

If you’re wondering how to grow dayliles, I’ve got good news for you: daylilies aren’t hard to grow, and are great for beginning gardeners.

They are one of the most forgiving perennials around, and with plenty of sun and regular water, you can have truly stunning daylilies that really live up to their potential.

Why are gardeners devoted to growing these resilient beauties?

For one thing, there are more than 90,000 cultivars registered with the American Hemerocallis Society — that means there are at least 90,000 ways this flower can be unique.

'Elegant Candy'

The bright blooms of “Elegant Candy” hold color well and have an added bonus of being strongly perfumed. The red eye and green throat, along with the heavily ruffled edges, add even more splash to the garden.

How? Whether it’s flower form, hardiness, fragrance, bloom time or more, each new cultivar boasts a different characteristic.

This difference is as noticeable as more blooms per plant or a brighter-colored flower (in any shade but blue), or as subtle as a change in the markings on the petals.

For basic daylily care regardless of what your garden’s story may be, the first chapter is about knowing how to grow a daylily well.

Sure, they can be hands-off, but here are a few practices that will keep them looking great.

First, consistent watering is vital.

Well-drained soil will keep your daylily’s crown and roots from rotting, but consistent moisture ensures that the plant will bloom profusely.

Make sure your daylilies get a couple of inches of water each week, whether it’s from rain or the hose.

This way, they’re more likely to keep sending up scapes — the stalks that bear the blooms.

Second, feed them annually. Daylilies aren’t super fussy about fertilizer.

An annual top dressing of compost in spring is just fine. Or try a low nitrogen fertilizer like Milorganite®, using one cup per clump in spring and again in fall.

Third, remove spent daylily blooms through live-heading or deadheading.

Keep your garden gorgeous by live-heading the daylilies every evening.

Daylily flowers only bloom for 24 hours or less, so live-heading is simply plucking off the flowers that bloomed for the day knowing they won’t be there tomorrow.

As an extra perk, you get time to admire the nuances and fragrances up close.

For deadheading, if you don’t get out to remove the day’s blooms, it’s easy to snap or cut the faded ones off where the colorful petals meet the stem.

A flower stalk, or scape, may have buds, a blooming flower and a spent flower all at the same time.

Finally, space daylily plants properly.

When it comes to spacing, daylilies need room to breathe. In general, small-flowered and miniature cultivars need to be placed 16 to 24 inches apart.

Plant large-blooming daylilies 18 to 30 inches apart. But for a fuller effect, space plants 12 to 18 inches apart, and divide plants more frequently.

Here are some common daylily problems. Daylilies rarely give in to pests, but watch for aphids, thrips and spider mites. If you see them, treat with insecticidal soap or a shot of water from the hose.

Daylily rust is caused by the fungus Puccinia hemerocallidis.

The main symptom of infection is raised orange or yellow spots (pustules) on the leaves, especially the undersides.

Resistant daylily cultivars may only show a few spots, while other daylilies will eventually turn yellow and die back.

To avoid infection, try not to water plants overhead and space plants so they have good air circulation.

Daylily rust

Raised orange or yellow spots on the leaves of daylilies is a sign of daylily rust.

Daylily rust is an airborne disease, so it’s difficult to prevent.

However, there are a few things you can do once you see symptoms.

Control rust during the growing season by applying a fungicide, according to package instructions.

Clean up and burn or throw away (don’t compost!) diseased foliage in the fall.

Disinfect your hands and pruners between plants, as to not spread the disease.

In the case of crown rot, poor drainage and circulation contribute to crown rot. If a healthy plant suddenly turns yellow, withers and drops its buds, it may have rot.

Lift it from the soil and check the roots for soft, mushy areas. If the soft area has a foul odor, it’s probably a bacterial problem; if it has an earthy, compost-like odor, it’s probably a fungal problem.

Cut off the diseased area and treat the plant’s roots with either a bactericide or a fungicide. Then it’s ready to go back in the ground.

You should plant daylilies in your landscape for a stunning display of colors, and they should begin blooming here in our area in the next few weeks. Enjoy.


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