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ABOUT DAYLILIES

Daylilies (Hemerocallis ) have become one of the most popular perennials. They are often referred to as the "perfect perennial" because they are one of the easiest plants to grow. Its botanical name (Hemerocallis) means "beauty for a day" in Greek; as each flower lasts only one day giving the plant its common name. Although each bloom lasts one day, each scape ( flower stem) has many buds and the plants will continue to bloom for weeks. A mature daylily plant will have many scapes. Careful bloom season selection of daylily varieties will allow flowering from spring until frost. Their beauty and low maintenance make them useful in all types of gardening situations; formal, informal, landscaping banks and hillsides and mass plantings.


There are presently over thousands of registered cultivars and new ones are being released every year. Daylilies flower colors are available in every shade except blue and they come in all types of exotic shapes, forms and patterns. The plants range in size from less than 1 foot to six feet tall with flower diameters from 1" to 10".


PLANTING DAYLILIES

Daylilies aren't fussy about soil. They will grow well in almost any type of good garden soil that is not consistently soggy or swampy. They are relatively disease and pest-free. Daylilies may be planted any time from spring to fall, but no later than 6 weeks before first frost in your area. Although most daylilies will bloom the first year they take a little time to establish themselves and will not reach their full potential until the second and third year.

Daylilies perform best in full sun, but half day will suffice. The darker colours (reds and purples) will benefit from afternoon shade to preserve their colour. A light application of fertilizer in early spring would benefit the plants but be careful, too much nitrogen will result in lots of foliage and few blooms! Although daylilies are drought tolerant they love water and you will receive more blooms if plants are suppplied with adequate water supply during dry spells. Mulching helps to retain moisture and soil temperature and will produce better results. A 6" layer of any of the following (chopped leaves, peat moss, straw, evergreen branches, bark mulch or a blanket of snow) will help protect your daylilies during the winter, especially the first two winters while the plants are getting established in their new home.

TYPES OF FOLIAGE

Daylilies are registered as one of three categories: Dormant, Semi-Evergreen and Evergreen.

Dormant - the foliage dies back in the fall and grows back in the spring
Semi-Evergreen - are somewhat in between the dormant and evergreen varieties
Evergreen - will try to keep their foliage during the winter

In our Canadian climate all foliage will eventually die back after a hard frost.
Generally, although not always the case dormants are supposed to be the most hardy, evergreen the most tender and semi-evergreen in between. However, there are tender dormants, and very hardy evergreen and semi-evergreen. Therefore, foliage is not always a good indicator of hardiness.

TETRAPLOID AND DIPLOID

Tetraploid daylilies have twice as many chromosomes (44) as diploids (22). The diploids have softer, delicate flowers and graceful scapes and tend to multiply faster than tetraploids. Tetraploids tend to have larger flowers, brighter colours, heavier texture and foliage and tend to multiply slower. There are beautiful daylilies in both categories. This would only be of importance if you wish to do some cross breeding since both parents must be the same genetically and therefore tetraploids can only be crossed with other tetraploids and diploids with diploids.