If you’re looking for an easy landscape plant that is guaranteed to please, the daylily is the plant for you.
Daylilies come in just about any color, shape or size you could want for your landscape. The colors are a kaleidoscope of red, peach, white and yellow. Aside from the stunning array of colors, the flowers themselves are not boring. Shapes include vibrant double flowers, petite flowers, flowers with gold-edged ruffles and spidery blooms with long, linear petals.
Believe it or not, all the daylilies we enjoy today come from the orange ditch lilies known scientifically as Hemerocallis fulva and Hemerocallis flava. At least 30,000 named selections have come from this original variety.
One of the most outstanding new selections is Suburban Nancy Gayle, which was developed at Suburban Daylilies in Hattiesburg. This selection has big, red flowers with yellow throats. I’ve grown it in my landscape for the past three years, and the performance has been outstanding.
Gayle has flowered in my garden from mid-May through August. The Mississippi Medallion program has selected Suburban Nancy Gayle as a 2015 winner.
Daylily flowers open only for one day and are great for fresh bouquets, so be sure to pick open flowers early in the morning. Night-blooming selections are fragrant.
Daylilies have been selected to bloom at different times. Be sure to select daylilies that bloom for your growing season. You can extend the bloom season by planting reblooming selections. Be sure to plant a mix of early-, mid- and late-season bloomers so you can enjoy daylilies all summer long.
Gardeners typically buy daylilies in 1- or 2-gallon nursery containers. Planting is as easy as removing the plant from the container and gently loosening the root ball. Make sure the planting hole is no deeper than the container. Grow daylilies in at least six hours of full sun for best flowering. Consistent soil moisture is important for happy daylilies.
Daylilies continue to set flowers and bloom even in the heat of our Mississippi summers. While they can adapt to most soil conditions, plant them in raised beds in Mississippi to enhance drainage.
These plants are vigorous and fast growing and can form a dense mat in just a couple of years. Divide daylilies every few years in the spring or fall.
You do not need special tools for dividing plants, but the ones you use should be sharp. A garden spade or a kitchen knife will get you started. Dig the entire clump out of the ground and gently shake off excess soil. This will cause less damage, and you will be able to make more divisions.
When replanting, prune off about half the foliage to reduce water loss as the roots begin to regrow. Plant the crown of the division at the same level in the ground as it was on the original plant. Arrange the pieces in a random fashion so they do not all grow in the same direction. Replant in new areas of the garden or share with your gardening friends.
Gary Bachman is an associate extension research professor of horticulture at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. His Southern Gardening column appears in the Daily Journal Home & Garden section twice a month.