Documents: Regional Gardens (Canada) - Prairie:


The Perfect Perennial
by Barb Foster
by Barb Foster


Inspired to nuture, Barb Foster took up gardening over a decade ago. She has a particular passion for this areas hardy perennials.

Barb collects her own seeds, grows seedlings in a greenhouse and has 500 sq ft of growing beds plus numerous perennial flower beds in her Zone 1b garden in Chetwynd, B.C.

Barb writes weekly for the Chetwynd Echo.

August 10, 2008

Hemerocallis, "the perfect perennial", according to the American Hemerocallis Society. More commonly known as 'Daylily', this plant is able to survive with little care in a wide range of climates. Most notably, Daylilies will grow well, here in Chetwynd.

Daylilies grow in large clumps of arching, sword-shaped leaves. They have large lily type flowers, held high above the foliage on leafless stems. The newer Daylily hybrids are available in a wide range of size, with heights of one to four feet. The flower colours are available in various combinations of cream, pink, purple, yellow, orange, red, and brown.

Most Daylily flowers last for only one day, hence the name Daylily; however they will produce an abundance of flowers to compensate, and can continually bloom for about a month. Large clumps of Daylily foliage could provide camouflage for spent tulips, or daffodils. They can provide substance to a garden bed, much as a shrub. Choose varieties that bloom at different times, so that you will have Daylilies in bloom, from spring to fall.

A favourite variety of mine, is the 'Stella de Oro', it is a dwarf, yellow flowered Daylily, that will bloom continuously throughout the summer. I am positively thrilled to have acquired a White Daylily and three different shades of Pink Daylily.

The daylily is drought tolerant and deer resistant, so if you are looking for a large plant to grow in a hot dry spot, you might try a Daylily. Daylilies could be used as landscape plantings, as an accent, or in mass plantings. Choose colours carefully, use similar colours together, be aware of blooming times.

Plant bare root Daylilies, or divide, and transplant Daylilies in the spring. Container grown Daylilies can be planted any time, except winter.

Large clumps of Daylilies may need to be divided, if the blooms appear to be smaller than in previous years. To divide Daylilies; dig up the root ball, shake off the soil, then pull apart, or cut if necessary, the thick tuberous roots. Include equal amounts of roots, and leaf fan with each division. If it is already grown, cut back the leaf fan to about six inches tall, and trim the roots to six or eight inches long. For new divisions, allow the cut surface to dry a little before replanting. For purchased bare rooted Daylilies, soak the root over night in a weak fertilizer solution before planting.

For best growth, and bloom, choose a site with at least six hours of sunlight. Work the soil deeply (about one foot), add compost, humus, and peat to the soil. I have heard that equals parts of sand, top soil, and aged manure is also a good growing mix for Daylilies. Daylilies prefer well drained soil, in problem areas, raise the beds three to six inches above existing soil levels. Daylilies do not do as well near Poplar, or other shallow rooted trees; because they compete for nutrients, and moisture. Deep rooted trees such as Pines, provide a dappled shade that Daylilies enjoy.

When planting a bare rooted Daylily, or transplanting a Daylily; dig a one foot deep, by one foot square, planting hole. Mound enriched soil in the hole, spread the roots of the Daylily over the mound. Set the crown no more than one inch below the soil level. Usually a band of white on the leaf stalk will indicate the previous soil level. Firm soil over the root, and water well. Space Daylilies eighteen to twenty four inches apart.

To avoid wetting flower heads, Daylilies are best watered by hand in the morning hours. Water deeply, about one inch of water per week is best.

Mulch, and hoe to suppress weeds. Keep mulch at least one inch away from the leaf stalks.

Hose off aphids and spider mites. Do not use the pesticide 'Kelthane', as it is known to harm Daylilies.

Deadhead finished blooms, and when the blooming period is finished,cut back the bloom stems (scapes) to within a few inches of the ground.

Fertilize with 5-10-10,once in the spring, and with 3-12-12 once in mid summer. Older plants may need to be fertilized more often, because the soil becomes exhausted after a few years.

Growing and developing new varieties of Daylily has become a popular hobby, as Daylilies can easily be grown from seed.

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