Although daylily flowers last only a day (the genus Hemerocallis comes from the Greek hemera which means “day” and kallos means “beauty”), these no-fuss no-muss herbaceous perennials are the workhorses of the landscape. In fact, even the Department of Transportation uses daylilies. This summer, when traveling across the highways and byways of the Carolinas, look for sweeping beds of daylilies in medians and along bridge embankments. When the DOT grows daylilies, you know it’s a tough and attractive plant.
Daylilies provide a rainbow of flower colors that range from near-whites, pastels, yellows, oranges, pinks, vivid reds, crimson, purple, nearly true-blue, and fabulous blends. Their clumps of arching sword-shaped leaves may be evergreen, semi-evergreen, or deciduous and vary in height from dwarf (under 6 in.) to medium (about 2 ft.) and tall (3 ft. and over). Their bloom season begins in mid-spring and lasts into late summer.
Reblooming daylilies flower more than one time during a single season; some of them bloom early-May or June, then repeat in the fall. Others have a succession of bloom periods, one shortly after another for several months. Reblooming types include the 3 ft. tall Starburst series, which come in a variety of colors, as well as the 2 ft. high 'Black-eyed Stella' (yellow with red eye), bright yellow 'Happy Returns' and 'Stella de Oro', and the red 'Pardon Me.'
With over 58,000 cultivars of dayliles, you’re bound to find one that you like. There are selections with semidouble and double flowers. The tetraploid types (see www.daylilies.org for a gardener-to-gardener discussion of diploids vs. polyploids) have unusually heavy-textured petals.
Daylilies need about six hours of sunlight each day, although they will tolerate light shade but will produce fewer flowers. They spread from suckers to form a dense mat, so expect to divide them every three to six years.
If you have a drab-looking space that needs some sprucing up this summer, choose low maintenance daylilies for their versatility and their gorgeous flowers.
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