Our American Hemerocallis Society Display Garden is in full bloom, and even though all daylilies are extraordinarily beautiful, there are certain varieties that just keep me fixated. I started noticing a few similar traits, and as I researched them I realized they were all tetraploids. So instead of being diploid, with each cell having two sets of chromosomes, these varieties have four sets.
I hope this doesn’t make your eyes glaze over. Having grown up in the South, I find there are so many gardeners who equate the daylily to the escaped Hemerocallis fulva, or Tawny daylily, growing wild in the ditch. There also a generation of gardeners who seem to equate daylilies with only the variety Stella d’Oro, because that’s what has been mass-produced for sale at the garden center.
There are more than 330 American Hemerocallis Society Display Gardens. In Central Kentucky, they are Debbie’s Daylilies in Frankfort, Donald’s Daylily Garden in Lexington, Graham’s Daylilies in Lancaster, and Nature’s Haven in Georgetown. To find the one closes to you, go to the society’s website, Daylilies.org/AHSgardens.html.
Not only will you be able to enjoy daylilies in full bloom as you stroll through the garden taking dozens of photographs, but you will get a clear picture of what your local hybridizers have been able to accomplish and most likely have for sale at a garden show or festival nearby.
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The varieties that are catching my eye in Savannah are Singular Sensation, Wild Irish, Monet’s Garden, God Alone and Amelia Island Holiday. These are all tetraploid varieties featuring ruffled margins and are known to rebloom. Wild Irish, Monet’s Garden and God Alone also are fragrant.
This is just at our garden in Savannah. Visit one near you and you will no doubt see equally stunning selections in your region guaranteeing that you will leave ready to turn your landscape into a kaleidoscope of color with this favorite perennial.
Perhaps you haven’t tried daylilies because the flowers only last a day. Remember, each scape or flower stalk has many buds, and these open in a series, giving you beauty for not only days but weeks and even months if they repeat. Monet’s Garden for instance has a bud count of 26 with 3 branches.
Daylilies require at least six hours of direct sunlight each day for best performance. Best results are obtained from raised beds rich in organic matter. Almost every problem call I used to get on daylilies, other than a few insects, originated with daylilies planted in soggy soils.
Be sure to add a good layer of mulch to hold moisture, to keep the soil cool, and to prevent weeds. I am a pine straw nut for mulch, but I have to admit that a layer of pine bark mulch around a daylily loaded with blooms is a wonderful sight.
To encourage flower production, keep seed pods picked off and feed with a complete and balanced fertilizer every four to six weeks. It is also important to remove any diseased foliage.
Warning: Once you see all of the daylily varieties, there is no telling how many you will want. I posted Wild Irish on our Facebook and it seemed to go viral by our standards. One comment was from a young lady who stated, “This flower needs to be in my life.” No doubt you will feel the same.
Norman Winter is director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Follow him at: @CGBGgardenguru.