Back to our regularly scheduled program

Rudbeckia maxima

We just returned from two trips scheduled back-to-back. We didn’t do this madness on purpose. Bill had a convention, and the other trip to Kill Devil Hills could only be taken last week. I love vacation, but I’m also glad to be home.

The back garden in June. Not as much blooming because we had a lot of rain and no sun. Now, things are dry.
The back garden in June. Not as much blooming because we had a lot of rain and no sun. Now, things are dry.

The garden missed me. Rain stopped in the second week, and temperatures climbed into the 90s. I also made a couple of rookie mistakes. I didn’t turn on the sprinkler system–not that big of a deal really–and I forgot to ask my son to water the pots on the deck. Surprisingly, I came home to only a couple of dead plants in the pots. All were wilted, but are now thriving that they are well watered. I choose drought tolerant stuff for the pots and use large containers, but I was still shocked they weren’t all dead. Note, I came home just in time. We are setting up the container drip system this week. The large vegetable garden still awaits its sprinkler system. Note: Bill set up both of them last night. Plus, we got some rain this morning. The rain knocked down the heat a little.

Hemerocallis 'Double Old Ivory' (Miles-J., 1979), an oldie, but a goodie.
Hemerocallis ‘Double Old Ivory’ (Miles-J., 1979), an oldie, but a goodie.

I ran the drip irrigation system for everything else. You don’t realize all that you do until you’re gone. I need to weed, deadhead and weed some more.

Hemerocallis 'Forever Redeemed' (Carpenter-J. 2003)
Hemerocallis ‘Forever Redeemed’ (Carpenter-J. 2003)

This morning, I didn’t want to go outside and face the deadheading and weeds, but I made myself, and I’m so glad I did. I have many new daylilies blooming. They are exquisite creatures. I’m especially fond of several new Floyd Cove Nursery introductions. I invested in newer introductions because the garden will be on regional tour in 2017. Daylily clumps need a couple of years to bulk up before being on view. If you’re a daylily nut, you may remember that Floyd Cove was previously owned by Patrick and Grace Stamile. Guy and Karen Pierce bought it from the Stamiles a few years ago. I love what the Pierces are doing with patterned eyes.

Hemerocallis 'Venetian Ruffles (Pierce-G. 2014), one of my new patterned daylilies.
Hemerocallis ‘Venetian Ruffles (Pierce-G. 2014), one of my new patterned daylilies.

I’ve worked all spring to get the daylilies staked and labeled. I still have a few without labels, but I’m working on rectifying that. It’s a tremendous job, but I also made a spreadsheet of every daylily I own, cross-referencing it with my other lists. I can now add and subtract from it. While doing this, I identified two unknowns. Records are sometimes very important. With over 40,000 daylily cultivars, it’s vital if you’re going to show or be on tour.

Thank goodness for the dragonflies who eat all the mosquitos. They are working overtime this year.
Thank goodness for the dragonflies who eat all the mosquitos. They are working overtime this year. These are resting on Echinacea purpurea.

The back garden felt like a fairy land this morning, but all was not well in the kingdom. Mosquitos have invaded our prairies. Because of all the rain, we have multitudes swarming around. I put on some Botanical Off, and it’s not touching them. I need to find my Burt’s Bees insect repellent, or something else. Regular Off bothers my asthma.

Hemerocallis 'Ninja Storm' (Gossard 2005) with Joe Pye weed.
Hemerocallis ‘Ninja Storm’ (Gossard 2005) with Eutrochium dubium ‘Little Joe’, Joe Pye weed.

I also worked in the large veggie/cutting garden. I still need to do 1/4 of it, but it got too hot and sunny out there to continue yesterday. I try to do hard work in the morning in spurts, and I often rest. Otherwise, I overdo and become a grump later in the day. The veggies are all coming along fine. ‘Glass Gem’ corn is sprouted and up. I did a lot of thinning. All the tomatoes look great too. I have three kinds of green beans planted and a new type of honeydew. I need to plant summer squash in amongst the flowers. I hope to thwart the squash bugs by waiting to plant and covering with row covers. I know it won’t stop them completely so I also have duct tape on hand to pull off their eggs. I plan to sow seed tomorrow after I get some straw or other mulch for the rows. I like straw because I can till it in later. We do till this garden because we move it around. I like no-till, but with Bermuda grass, I am limited somewhat in the best thing to do. Today I used a DeWit cultivator hoe between the rows. I bought this hoe last year, and I love how precise it is.

Hemerocallis 'Redheaded Hussy' (1 of 1)
Hemerocallis ‘Redheaded Hussy’ (Davisson-J. 2006). I love this plant.

So, that’s my garden story for today. How is your garden coming along this spring/summer?

Care and feeding of daylilies

Hemerocallis 'Azure Violets' which isn't always consistent in color, but is beautiful nonetheless. Care and feeding of daylilies.
Hemerocallis ‘Azure Violets’ which isn’t always consistent in color, but is beautiful nonetheless.

Daylilies and roses are two of my garden passions. Of these two, daylilies are more reliable and give more bang for the buck in my climate than the fairest Queen of May. For the most part, they are easy, but there are certain things you can do to help your daylilies prosper. This post is all about the care and feeding of daylilies.

Hemerocallis 'Pocket Change' (Crochet 1985) is a small red I grow in partial shade. I do this because it's an earlier red, and its substance won't hold up in our harsh sun. Photo by Dee Nash
Hemerocallis ‘Pocket Change’ (Crochet 1985) is a small red I grow in partial shade. I do this because it’s an earlier red, and its substance won’t hold up in our harsh sun.
  • Plant in spring or fall. Don’t plant daylilies when the weather is very hot, or you are setting yourself up for failure. Because of their fibrous roots and thickened spindles for water storage, newly-planted daylilies are very susceptible to root rot under hot conditions. If you simply must buy a daylily now when they’re are blooming–and I wouldn’t know anything about that–plant them in larger containers and place these in the shade where you will keep them watered. Mine sit beneath my deck. In the cool shade, they will grow throughout summer and be ready to place in the ground in fall. If you can’t do this, go ahead and plant your daylilies in the garden, but be sure to shade them. My friend, Leslie at Growing a Garden in Davis, uses children’s umbrellas. Pretty smart. I’ve used all sorts of things when I just couldn’t keep myself from buying.

    Hemerocallis 'John Peat' (Petit 2001) in the foreground with Echinacea purpurea 'Coconut Lime' and H. 'Victorian Lace' (Stamile 1999)
    Hemerocallis ‘John Peat’ (Petit 2001) in the foreground with Echinacea purpurea ‘Coconut Lime’ and H. ‘Victorian Lace’ (Stamile 1999)
  • When planting daylilies, spread their roots over a mound of soil in the hole. Make sure to place soil up underneath the daylily crown. You don’t want air pockets when winter comes calling.

    Dee Nash-Hemerocallis 'Midnight Madness' (Peat 2003), a very dark purple that grows in morning sun. Notice the blackspot on the Rosa 'Belinda's Dream' next to it. My garden isn't perfect, but it is natural and as organic as I can make it.
    Hemerocallis ‘Midnight Madness’ (Peat 2003), a very dark purple that grows in morning sun. Notice the blackspot on the Rosa ‘Belinda’s Dream’ next to it. My garden isn’t perfect, but it is natural and as organic as I can make it.
  • Feed daylilies with a high nitrogen fertilizer to get more blooms. I bet that surprises you. A larger clump ensures better and larger blooms. Nitrogen fertilizer creates a larger clump. I’ve used different organic fertilizers from composted chicken manure to Milorganite. Alfalfa based fertilizers also work well. HuMore is alfalfa and manure. I’ve also used Back to Nature. Daylilies respond to all of these, and I change them up from year to year to maintain balance. I also give them a year off now and then. You should also check your soil every few years with a soil test to make sure your garden isn’t out of balance or over-fertilized. Manure tea, like Moo Poo Tea, is also a nice pick-me-up for daylilies and other summer stressed plants. It can be sprayed on foliage or poured at the drip line.

    Hemerocallis 'Ruby Spider'  with Rosa 'Cliffs of Dover' behind.
    Hemerocallis ‘Ruby Spider’  with Rosa ‘Cliffs of Dover’ behind.
  • Mulch. I use Back to Nature or shredded oak leaves as mulch. Occasionally, I also lay shredded pine bark mulch, but only occasionally.
  • Water. Daylilies have roots which hold water, and ditch lilies seem to grow all by themselves. However, if you’ll notice ditch lilies grow in ditches were water runs freely. They like extra water and good drainage.

    Hemerocallis 'Spacecoast Starburst' (Kinnebrew 1998)
    Hemerocallis ‘Spacecoast Starburst’ (Kinnebrew 1998)
  • Good drainage. Daylilies will tolerant some clay, but they grow best in conditions where they have decent drainage. Otherwise, they may rot.
  • Deadhead regularly. Although it isn’t a requirement to deadhead, doing so makes for a neater appearance, allows new flowers to open, and keeps scapes from falling over due to weight. I deadhead daily except on Sundays. I take Sunday off.
  • After the daylilies bloom, I cut off scapes–i.e., stems. Some people don’t and let their daylilies finish out the cycle. However, I think they can be unsightly so I remove them. Whichever you choose, do remove any seedpods unless you’re trying to hybridize. Seedpods take energy from the mother plant.

    Hemerocallis 'Wild Child' (Salter 2002) has a little thrip damage, but the thrips will move on, and the blooms will get better and better. This is a new daylily to the garden as of last year.
    Hemerocallis ‘Wild Child’ (Salter 2002) has a little thrip damage, but the thrips will move on, and the blooms will get better and better. This is a new daylily to the garden as of last year.
  • Like all perennials, expect daylilies to take three years or more to realize their potential. They will probably bloom the second year, but not at the rate they will in future summers. Also, those first blooms may not look exactly like they will in the future. Give them time.

    Hemerocallis 'Red Volunteer' with H. 'Victorian Lace'
    Hemerocallis ‘Red Volunteer’ with H. ‘Victorian Lace’

These are all things I do to ensure daylily success. How about your tips? Daylilies bring a lot of joy to my garden. I’d love to spread that joy around. After all, I can’t be the only one who daylily mad, can I?