You may have noticed a lot of daylily bloom posts on Red Dirt Ramblings this year. For those of you bored by all this hemnut nonsense, I promise we’ll be back to regular programing soon. I’m headed to the Garden Bloggers Bling in Portland this week, and I hope to post a lot of photos to take you along with me.
Several friends commented they wished daylilies bloomed longer in their gardens, and that when they do bloom, there aren’t enough blooms to go around. I sense their frustration, and I aim to please–so I’ll share how I get my daylily plants to bloom for a two month stretch. It’s all in choosing your plants wisely. I know it’s hard, but don’t simply fall for a pretty face.
Here are my four B’s to daylily garden zen:
1. Bud Count and Placement: Before you order a daylily, check online for photos of people who actually grow it. Better yet, go see it in bloom or bud at a local garden. Finding a daylily garden where I live is difficult. We only have one daylily hybridizer nearby, and he mostly sells his own cultivars. I want variety so I choose from a number of different hybridizers. Since I can’t go see daylilies in my habitat very well, I do two different things. One, I try attend our regional meetings held each June. I’ve yet to get to a national meeting, but perhaps, one day. It’s hard to choose between the American Hemerocallis Society’s national meeting and a trip to the Garden Bloggers Fling. There is only so much money and time to go around. So far, the Fling wins out on this one. There are fifteen regions within the AHS. Oklahoma is in Region 11 comprising Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas. Oklahoma has two daylily clubs, one in Oklahoma City, and the other in Tulsa. Our regional was in St. Louis two weekends ago, and it was a blast. It always is. You get to see gardens at their peak, and converse with other hemnuts. You can also bid on newer cultivars in the auction. You’re sometimes given free plants as a bonus. Another way to see what grows best in your climate to check out your friends’ gardens in your club. Our club, COHS, has been doing local tours the last couple of years. I’m not sure about the Tulsa club, but they probably do too. As for bud count, if you go the AHS website and search for a particular cultivar, you’ll find the listed bud count. Here’s the thing though. That information is provided by the hybridizer as grown in his/her conditions. Sometimes the stated bud count isn’t as high in your garden as what’s listed on the registration. How a daylily is grown and how much water and fertilizer it receives will also influence its bud count. H. ‘Victorian Lace’, shown above, is one of my favorite cultivars. It is beautiful, yes, but look at that bud count. Here is what its registration says:
‘Victorian Lace’ (Stamile, 1999)
scape height 30 inches
bloom size 6.75 inches
bloom season Early-Midseason
foliage type Evergreen
bloom habit Diurnal
bud count 23
seedling # 7355
Several pieces of information are important here. You want your blooms to do their thing up and out of their foliage. A scape (stem) height of 30 inches guarantees that. The size of the bloom matters mostly if you’re showing the daylily. It is the criteria for where your daylily is placed and judged in the show. The registration shows ‘Victorian Lace’ as blooming early-midseason with rebloom. Here, in Oklahoma, it blooms midseason and reblooms so it will bloom over a month in my garden. The bud count is a respectable 23 with three branches. I like a daylily with blooms that open over a long period of time. Some daylilies may have a high bud count only to bloom everything, and in a week, the show is all over. You can’t tell a daylily’s bloom habit from its registration. That’s why it’s important to see a plant in bloom if possible. Also, how the buds are placed on the scape is important too. Again, you can’t see this unless you see the plant in bloom online or in a garden.
2. Branching: Why does branching matter? You chose a daylily with a good bud count, but if it doesn’t have good branching, the daylilies may not open properly, especially if one or two open on the same scape at the same time. In a perfect world, you want the blooms to open over a series of days and look like a bouquet. There is top branching, low branching, or a daylily may be simply described as well-branched. I really like my daylilies well-branched because it helps the bouquet to fully open. You will often read in registrations that a daylily has three-way branching or even four-way. You can read a lot of opinions about branching, but Julie Covington, who is a garden judge instructor, wrote a good post about branching and bud count. I don’t know Julie, but I think she explains it well. H. ‘North Wind Dancer’ has good branching and placement although branching isn’t listed on its registration. As with most Unusual Form (UF) daylilies, the bud count isn’t that high, but ‘North Wind Dancer’ sends up lots of scapes with well-placed buds. It also blooms over a long period of time unfurling each beautiful bloom as if slow dancing.
3. Bloom Time: You want daylilies that bloom early, mid and late to cover the entire season. In my garden, that season starts with either ‘Lace Cookies’ or ‘Inky Fingers,’ both early season varieties. Pretty soon, other daylilies start to pop. By the time the giant clump of ‘Red Volunteer’ is in full bloom in my garden, I know we are halfway through the season. ‘Autumn Minaret‘, a midseason-late, always closes things out a month later.
4. Rebloom: I always think rebloom is an interesting concept. Some daylilies really do rebloom by stopping for a period of time and then sending up a few more scapes later in the season. Others, especially when grown well, send up continuous scapes throughout the season, and this is also called rebloom. Either way, rebloom is almost essential for my way of thinking. If I’m going to give a daylily real estate in my garden, I want it to bloom its little heart out. So, look for plants with rebloom when buying. Although ‘Inky Fingers’ is a pretty plant and is said to have rebloom, it hasn’t so far in my garden. I keep threatening to pull it out, but it has stayed only because it blooms so early.
One more thing, daylily hybridizers are constantly improving their plants. There is an obsession to collecting anything, but I think daylily fans are among the most ardent. The hybridizers are even more passionate. I know there are a lot of daylily cultivars out there, but newer ones definitely have interesting characteristics like sculpting, recurved petals and diamond dusting. It’s a dizzying array, but before you plunk down your money for a daylily, consider my four B’s to daylily zen first. You’ll have a better plant and be happier that way.