The Daylily: Summer’s Favorite Flower

Story by Jacqueline Zilliox | Reprinted from Summer 2009

Daylilies are an inexpensive, low maintenance flower that’s perfect for the busy gardener.


 
The common orange daylily, Hemerocallis fulva ‘Europa,’ that is seen in bloom all over Southern Maryland beginning the first week of June, is not a native plant. It was brought here by the early settlers in the 1600s.
 

“Hemerocallis fulva actually originated from the colder climates of Eurasia and was transported throughout Europe with no more care than a dry bag,” said Marianne Harms, member of the Calvert Garden Club. They are known as daylilies because in most species, they open late in the afternoon and die the following day.
 
Daylilies are low maintenance making them a good choice for the busy gardener. Southern Maryland is a comfortable climate for the 60,000 plus hybridized daylily cultivars currently available.
 
“During the last 40 years, the perennial daylily fulva has been hybridized to create variations that range from color and form to bloom time and fragrance options,” said John Burger, plant specialist for The Greenery Nursery Center in Hollywood, Md.
“The original daylily has a single row of petals in the flower head, but the hybridized varieties offer both single and double petals,” Harms said. “The doubles are so ruffled and full they look like car-nations. I also like the height variations of the new daylilies. There are miniatures that grow only to a height of 12 inches, and a few 6-feet-tall varieties.”

Photo by Maryann Parah.


 
Janet Clements, president of Heaven’s Garden in La Plata, said there are several blooming options for daylilies. “Bloom time choices include one-time blooms, which last about 14 days; repeat bloomers, which produce a few flushes of flowers in season; and continuous bloomers, like the Stella family,” Clements said. “For optimum continuous blooms on a Stella daylily, removal of dead flower heads and stalks is beneficial.”
 
“Whatever the variety of daylily, it is a hardy plant provided it’s placed in the right spot and in the proper way,” said Burger. “When planting, choose a sunny to partially sunny spot and make sure it has well-drained soil. If your soil is clay based, mix in a small amount of compost or topsoil to amend it. Spring or autumn is the best time to plant or divide. By dividing your daylilies, you achieve a fuller gar-den by carrying the divided segments to other deserving places in the garden. When replacing the original clump back in place, use fresh soil, it adds nutrients to feed the roots and in turn provides larger blooms the following summer.”
Additional maintenance of a daylily will simply require dead heading the spent flower bud and stalk before a seed pod forms. In the spring and fall, a general plant fertilizer should be applied. A green methodology choice would be a time-released product such as Plant-tone or Osmocote.

Hemerocallis fulva ‘Europa,’ better known as the orange daylily, is beautiful when planted in groupings.


 
When placing daylilies in your gar-den, full green foliage will be seen until they die back in the late fall. That feature makes daylilies a good companion plant in a mixed bed.
 
“I have large planting beds with a mix of perennials in my garden for continuous color,” Harms said. “When the daylilies aren’t blooming, I have others that are, such as Siberian Iris, Shasta Daisy, Cosmos, or Russian Sage. When planting in a mixed bed or on a hillside, I think it best to use at least three plants of the same color to create more impact. If you use plants in every color, viewing your garden from a distance produces a polka dot effect that is not as appealing. By repeating a color scheme with just a few color choices, you create a rhythm to your landscape.”
 
If you’re a weekend gardener or an avid gardener, daylilies meet every need, want and desire. Whether ease of maintenance, disease and pest resistant, height, color, form or fragrance, daylilies deliver.

 


DAYLILY GARDENING TIPS:

• Good as an edging plant or for a hillside area.
• Visit a nursery when the sun is out to pick a daylily.
• An excellent companion plant.
• Not deer resistant.
• Deadhead daily.
 


Photo by Robert Tinari.

WHERE TO FIND DAYLILLIES

The average cost for a daylily plant is from$6.99 to $19.99. Local garden club plant sales are also a good source.
FARM VALLEY NURSERY*:

20 Cox Road, Huntingtown, 410-535-5818
FERRY LANDING FARM AND APIARY*:

3575 Ferry Landing Road, Dunkirk, 410-257-3267
GREENSTREET GARDENS:

391 West Bay Front Road, Lothian, 410-867-9500
HEAVEN’S GARDEN*:

7550 Hawthorne Road, La Plata, 301-934-6663
THE GREENERY NURSERY CENTER*:

44222 Greenery Lane, Hollywood, 800-540-2573
WENTWORTH NURSERY:

Rt. 4, Prince Frederick, 866-535-3664 and Rt. 5 & Oaks Road, Charlotte Hall, 800-558-5292
 
*Sells locally grown daylilies.