‘Strawberry Candy’ daylily

The American Hemerocallis Society has registered nearly 89,000 varieties of hybrid daylilies. They come in colors ranging from creamy white to purple, lavender, yellow, pink, coral, red, orange and almost black; there are also various combinations of these colors. Daylily heights range from 18” to more than 5’. Blooming times vary from early in the season to mid-season to late-season, depending on the choice of cultivars and the plant-hardiness zone you live in. Singles, doubles, miniatures and spiders are some of the common forms.

One of the most popular daylilies, 'Strawberry Candy'

'Winter Treasure' daylily

To prepare the soil for planting, add compost, peat moss, well-rotted manure or other organic matter and mix deeply at the site. Dig a hole large enough to spread the roots without crowding them. Make a mound in the center of the hole and place the plant in the mound. The crown (the part where the roots and stem meet) should be no more than 1” below ground level. Water thoroughly. Daylilies grow best in full sunlight, although they can deal with partial shade. While they are drought tolerant, most flower best with adequate water and fertilizer.

Good grooming is essential. Clip stalks after flowering and dead-head (remove spent blossoms) to ensure an attractive appearance for the entire season. If your daylilies are not flowering well or if the clump is too large, they can be separated in the fall or spring. Make sure to leave each division with at least three stems before replanting. In colder zones, late-fall planting will not give the plant enough time to become established before the first frost.

Not many could deny the stunning beauty of the ‘Winter Treasure’ daylily.

'Stella's Sparky' daylily

Hybridizing


Daylilies are ideal for the creative amateur who longs to hybridize. It’s relatively easy to transfer the pollen from one plant to another. While a professional grower is scientific about this process, utilizing careful selection and long-range goals, the average gardener can simply have fun with it.

Choose the plants you want to cross. Although chromosomal differences between diploids and tetraploids mean that they cannot be crossed, it is extremely difficult for the amateur to discern between the two. For the home gardener, it makes sense to follow one hybridizer who said she just puts pretty on pretty and hopes for the best. Wait until the pollen dries and becomes fluffy, usually by mid-morning. Set it onto the tip of another plant’s pistil. Label your crosses clearly, so you can keep track of them. When a tiny green pod appears after the crossed flower drops off, you’ll know you have been successful. After 40 to 60 days, the pod begins to split open. Remove the seeds and let them air dry overnight. Store in a plastic bag or other sealed container in your refrigerator for a minimum of four to six weeks. Seeds can be refrigerated until you are ready to plant them.

The striking blooms of Hermocallis ‘Stella’s Sparky’

'Point of Divergence' daylily

Plant directly in the ground or start the seeds in flats or pots. In more temperate zones, spring is a good time to plant the seeds outdoors. Be patient. It may take two to three years for blossoms to appear. That’s when you can evaluate your work and enjoy the satisfaction of creating and propagating the seeds of a brand new brilliantly colored blossom. What glory!

If you don’t want to create your own varieties, don’t worry. You’ll be able to pick and choose from a wide assortment available at local nurseries and in general catalogs, as well as those catalogs devoted to daylilies.

'Point of Divergence' daylily blooms display a striking color combination.

'Red Suspenders' daylily

A few outstanding cultivars are:


H. 'Stella’s Sparky': An early bloomer in rose and apricot hues that will re-bloom throughout the summer. It grows to approximately 22" high with a blossom size of approximately 3-3/4".

H. 'Strawberry Candy': One of the most prized and popular daylilies. Its strawberry-pink bloom has an unusual deep-pink eye and golden-green throat that make this a favorite. It grows to approximately 26" high with a 4-1/4" flower.

H. 'Point of Divergence': This has a stunning ivory cream bloom with an indigo violet eye. It grows to approximately 30" high with a 4-1/2" flower.

H. 'Red Suspenders': Stands at approximately 32" high with an enormous 11" fragrant flower. The bloom's graceful petals pinch together down their length.

The graceful ‘Red Suspenders’ daylily adds interest to the garden.

'A Little Fire, Scarecrow' daylily

H. 'Winter Treasure': Grows to approximately 28" tall with a 6" bloom. When it blossoms mid-season in white with yellow fringes, it looks almost luminescent.

H. 'Taco Twister': An approximately 28" high warm-yellow spider daylily with a 7-1/2" bloom. This will re-bloom during the season.

H. 'A Little Fire, Scarecrow': A late bloomer standing at approximately 47" tall with a 6-1/2" flower. This showy bloom in brilliant red with cream edges will stand out in any garden.

H. 'Barbara': One of the latest bloomers. At approximately 38" high, its buttery-yellow blooms make the last daylily statement for the season.

'A Little Fire, Scarecrow' daylily is a real show stopper.

'Barbara' daylily

The most difficult thing about adding daylilies to your garden is choosing among so many magnificent possibilities. Begin by determining your preferences as to location, size and color. Then try not to become infatuated by a particularly gorgeous bloom that doesn’t fulfill your criteria. Good luck!

Its buttery-yellow blooms make 'Barbara’ the last daylily statement for the season.

Text by Joan G. Hauser

Photos by Chris Petersen

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