Posts Tagged Hemerocallis

The Fleeting Flowers of Daylilies

Siloam Bo Peep

I showed you a few of my earlier blooming daylilies a few days ago here. For those who may not know, daylilies are so named because each day one flower bud on the bloom stalk (scape) opens to reveal itself for one day of glory. By day’s end, the flower withers; the next day, a new bud opens, until all the buds are gone. Most daylily flowers open at dawn, but a few varieties open in late afternoon, which is nice for gardeners who work away from home all day. For many years, I rarely saw my daylily flowers at their freshly open best, because most of mine open as soon as the sun tops the trees.

It is a true pleasure to catch them just opened for business. My daylilies are suffering from insufficient water. The drought deepens daily here; sparse, errant thunderstorms are routinely snubbing my garden, and my well can’t be risked on mere flowers. Consequently, bloom scapes are not as numerous as they would otherwise be, so the few flowers I’m seeing are coming and going in an eye’s blink.

I wanted to share a few more pictures with you before they’re all gone. The one above, Siloam Bo Peep, is a medium-height fancy ruffled beauty. Don’t ask me about its name. I’ve noticed that the folks who breed daylilies and hostas in particular seem to go for, well, rather creative names.

Here’s a name that puzzles me:

Prairie Blue Eyes

The flower is a bit blue-ish, but the eye isn’t. And why Prairie? I’ve no idea, but it is lovely.

Here’s one that actually makes sense to me:

Little Grapette

This purply-red beauty grows on shorter scapes than some of the others, and the flowers are smaller, so you get a delicate petite ruffled effect that I enjoy. Plus, Little Grapette seems more resilient than the bigger daylilies, blooming longer and more abundantly than its bigger siblings most years.

Here’s a more subtle beauty:

Siloam Dan Tau

I assume this is either named after the breeder or someone the breeder wanted to honor. Its pale peach color benefits from a bit of shade, so that the petals don’t bleach out as quickly during their day of bloom.

And finally, here’s an even more subtle beauty:

Luxury Lace

You can see its ruffles are not as dramatic as some of the others, but its rich pink petals and deep yellow-green eye are quite striking. It’s also a smaller daylily in height and width.

More are still blooming — some big spider daylilies are just getting going, and the Autumn Daffodil daylilies are only now sending up scapes. These yellow-flowered beauties don’t actually wait until autumn to bloom, but they do wait until much later than most of the others to open for business.

It’s easy to fall in love with these perennials, because of the diversity of flower colors, sizes, shapes, and even fragrances. But they’re not perfect. Their grass-like leaves are pretty boring when the flowers aren’t blooming, so you need to be sure to mix them in with perennials that can take over for the daylilies when they’re not showing off. There’s a fungal rust disease that can make the leaves look brown and ugly. And — the biggest issue — the flower buds are irresistible to deer. If they find your daylilies, you’ll only get flowers if you spray noxious repellents on the buds or fence them inside deer-proof enclosures.

When we planted our daylilies some fifteen years ago, the deer were not nearly as numerous. They didn’t start devouring the buds routinely until about seven years ago. Unless I sprayed repellent religiously on the buds, we lost every single flower. Now that we’ve added deer fencing to parts of our yard, the paths the antlered hogs follow through our property have changed. They no longer routinely pass the daylily beds, and we are once again enjoying flowers — without even spraying repellent! I doubt this change will last, but I’m enjoying the show of colors, ruffles, and shapes while I can. And now, through these photos, you can too.

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Daylily Season

Hemerocallis ‘Siloam Jim Cooper’

Daylily season has arrived at my house. These non-native perennials have many attractive assets. In my Piedmont garden, they thrive on neglect. In fact, my biggest issue with them most of the time is their propensity to multiply. Their fleshy tubers like our sandy loam soils, and without fertilizer or even — most years — supplementary water, the tubers multiply. If I were on top of things, I’d be dividing them every three years. I don’t do that, because, well, I’m not on top of things (infinite to-do list), and because I’ve run out of places to put them.

Oh sure, on five acres, I still have sunny spots that could be enhanced with a few daylilies, but if I can’t provide at least a bit of deer protection, the flowers will never see the light of day. Deer love daylily flower buds.  As soon as the buds grow to finger size, they are gobbled.

Some years are worse than others for daylily devouring by deer. This year so far (knock wood) has not been too bad. In fact, I’m not even seeing as many deer tracks on the floodplain as I usually do. I don’t know where they’ve gone, and I don’t care. But I’m pretty sure they’ll be back, so I’m not going to plant daylilies in places I know will invite deer dining.

I grow many different cultivars. I think there may be at least a zillion Hemerocallis cultivars. Many breeders hybridize them. Daylily collectors can be quite avid. Some cultivars sell for hundreds of dollars. I think obsession is not too strong a word for those afflicted with daylily dementia.

About fifteen years ago, Wonder Spouse was briefly afflicted with this condition. A nearby local daylily grower holds open houses during blooming season, so that you can see what you’re buying. Daylilies come in all sizes and colors and shapes. Bloom stalks are called scapes, and scape height is one of the variables that impacts the overall look of the flowers. Some are early bloomers, some late, and reblooming cultivars are increasingly popular and in demand.

The leaves of daylilies  look like a wide-bladed grass — they’re lilies, after all. But when the scapes shoot up and the flowers open, the colors and shapes dance like butterflies in a mixed perennial bed.

Here’s a relatively short-scaped spider form that Wonder Spouse bought:

Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’

That one really glows in evening twilight.

Here’s another spider — much taller:

Hemerocallis ‘Winsome Lady’

See how the color of the stamens varies? And the interior area color changes too, as does the amount of ruffling on the petals. Variations are nearly infinite, which explains the number of available cultivars.

Here’s one last, more subtle beauty that is blooming with my Spanish Lavender. This one is a rebloomer, which is why Wonder Spouse chose it. He had big plans for becoming a hybridizer, so he wanted variable stock to work with.

Hemerocallis ‘MayMay’

This is just the beginning of daylily season in our yard. I’ll show you more as they open for business. They are fantastically photogenic, as I think you must agree. Give them light, loamy soil, and a bit of water — keep the deer away —  and you will be rewarded with summer-long blooms — if you pick the right cultivars.

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