Campbell Vaughn: Daylilies bring colorful variety to the garden

Our warm-season perennials have begun to bloom and for flower lovers it is a fun time.

 

Shasta daisy has donned her showy white petals; black eyed Susan is getting ready to explode with her yellow and black finery; and the ubiquitous daylily is showing her glory. I have always loved daylilies. When I bought my first home, my mom shared some of her daylilies with me from our family’s home place near Toccoa, Ga. There were a couple of breaks in the sidewalk next to my picket fence in front of my house where I added some soil and planted those heirlooms. They were perfect for that location and when they bloomed, they were fantastic.

Botanically known as Hemerocallis, daylilies aren’t just the old fashioned, tough, and country-road perennials anymore. With selective breeding, daylilies have developed into some of the most magnificent flowering perennials available.

Native to Asia, daylilies are considered by many as the perfect perennial. Although the blooms literally only last a day, daylilies make up for this small deficiency by the many buds that are available for a long-lasting series of flowers. Hemerocallis are available in a wide variety of colors including orange, yellow, cream, purple and scarlet as well as many combinations of these colors.

The forms of the flowers also vary. Some are frilly while others are more traditional. The American Hemerocallis Society has some unique names to describe the shape of daylily flowers like polymerous, spider, sculpted, recurved and star.

Spider form is a flower whose petals have a length-to-width ratio of 4 to 1. Polymerous is used to describe the normal numbers of segments in each floral whorl. That is a mouthful.

The size of the plant and leaf thickness can vary, as well. Some dwarf varieties are as small as 6 inches while some of the larger forms can reach more than 36 inches.

Daylilies are some of the most drought-tolerant perennials available. They don’t have many problems with pests, as well.

Daylilies are clump-forming, with fibrous or somewhat tuberous roots. They grow as masses and can be divided into individual plants. This is a great way to share the plant or spread them around to new areas in the landscape. These plants are herbaceous, so if you want to divide them, make sure to mark where they are before they die to the ground come first frost.

I like to divide and replant in the fall. Plant them shallow. There is a little bit of white on the base of the plant where the leaves intersect with the root system. Make sure that white is showing when planting. Burying them too low seems to stunt blooming.

If you want to see some fantastic Hemerocallis specimens, the Greater Augusta Daylily Society Show is hosting their annual show on June 3 at Lake Park Baptist Church on Milledge Avenue near Julian Smith Casino.

The show is free to the public. The hours are 1:30-4:30 p.m.

There are competitions available for blooms, photography and floral design. Entries will be accepted 7:30-10 a.m. June 3. There will also be a plant sale, posters, educational programs about growing daylilies and an Ikebana demonstration using daylilies. Get out and enjoy these wonderful perennials.

Reach Campbell Vaughn, the UGA Agriculture and Natural Resource agent for Richmond County, by e-mailing augusta@uga.edu.

 

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