Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dependable Daylilies

Some of the most dependable non-native plants in my landscape are clump forming hybrid daylilies. Daylilies are adaptable to a wide range of conditions and hardiness zones. In catalogs they are often shown as adaptable from zones 4 through 9, however some daylilies can be even be found for zone 1 or up to zone 11. Some cultivars have been developed to withstand colder winters, drier conditions, etc., so it is a good idea to source your daylilies locally if possible or read the mail order descriptions in detail to see if a particular variety is likely to do well in your area. And oh my, the different varieties that are available! You can find short through tall, early to late blooming, and evergreen to name a few different characteristics, each in a rainbow of colors. Some of my favorites are the very ruffled edged varieties whose edges are outlined in a contrasting color.

One word of caution however, there is one species of daylily that was introduced to the US 100-200 years ago that while well adapted (good), it is very invasive (bad). It is known as the common orange daylily or Hemerocallis fulva. This plant spreads aggressively, in my experience, by underground rhizomes and will quickly form an ever widening dense mat that crowds out other plants. I definitely discourage its use, but with so many other amazing hybrids of adapted, non-invasive daylilies available, this is no hardship.

The daylily varieties that I have in my zone 8 garden are very dependable bloomers. I have early and late bloomers as well as others that will even rebloom. Daylilies are very drought tolerant. I have found that the darker colored flowers will fade some in direct afternoon sun. While daylilies do need a half day of sun to flower reliably, you can plant your darker colored ones where they will be shaded in the afternoon to avoid this. Each bloom only lasts one day, however the plants send up stalks with multiple buds that open over a long period. All in all, my hybrid daylilies are beautiful, low maintenance and very well behaved, increasing in size very slowly and don’t threaten to take over their neighbors.

If you are not currently growing daylilies in your garden, I encourage you to try this low maintenance beauty. Be forewarned however. You can become addicted to continually adding new varieties once you realize how easy they are to grow. Your garden could become overrun with them, not because any one plant takes over but because you keep finding different beauties to add to your garden. If for some reason you have no room in your garden for daylilies, you can still enjoy their beauty through my photographic art daylily images on bookmarks, note cards and matted prints.

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