Daylilies make life easier

June 28, 1998|By Nancy Brachey | Nancy Brachey,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

The colors: ice-cream-delicious shades of peach, raspberry, tangerine, lemon and grape. The time: early summer. Put them together and you get daylilies.

And no perennial makes life easier.

Got to move? In the chill of January or the heat of July, daylilies will pack up and go with you.

Need to cover a steep bank? Daylilies will do the job.

Hanker for an all-pastel garden? A bed of vivid reds and rich purples? Take your pick among the 30,000 named varieties.

And no plant ranks easier to grow. Call them dependable and trustworthy.

New leaves emerge in early spring, turning into arching foliage that looks good well into fall (if slugs don't take their bite out of it). The earliest varieties bloom in May, but daylilies really star in June and early July.

The common name of daylily describes the flower's life span and its appearance. The bloom resembles a lily because it belongs to the lily plant family liliaceae. Each bloom lasts just a day, but a well-established plant produces many stems and each stem produces many buds to keep the show going.

Combine early, mid-season and late varieties, and you get a longer show.

While daylilies require much less care than many plants, they prosper with attention. Give them good, well-drained garden soil and at least six hours of sun a day for good growth and bloom. I never get very good bloom from daylilies planted in partial shade. Slow growth, less vigorous plants and fewer blooms result. However, the darker colors do better if kept away from hot afternoon summer sun. Grow them in morning-to-noon sun.

Plant daylilies anytime -- and I am not kidding. People tell me amazing stories about digging up their grandmother's plants just before the home was sold and keeping the roots in bread wrappers for weeks, even months. The plants survived -- and bloomed.

Still, fall ranks as the best time to move daylilies. Simply dig up the clumps and separate the crowns at the base of the plant. Use a knife or pruning shears.

Dig, divide and replant when the clump gets crowded, or when you want to share a plant. When you replant, set the crown about 1 inch below the soil line.

Except for slugs, pests don't bother daylilies much. Where these leaf-eating menaces appear, use a slug remedy, such as a shallow pan of beer or slug pellets. Thrips, a type of insect, also can show up, usually deforming the flower buds and leaves. Spray with Orthene.

Pub Date: 6/28/98

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