Depend on Daylilies

You don't need much more than a sunny spot to grow these easy perennials.

Story by Steve Bender

Ask Mark Viette what's the first perennial a beginner should try and he will answer, "Daylilies!" And well he should. Mark represents the third generation of his family to be involved with the growing and breeding of them. Together with his parents, Andre and Claire, he operates Viette Nurseries, a beautiful retail garden center adorned with glorious displays of daylilies and other perennials in the rolling hills of Fishersville, Virginia.

June is peak bloom season for daylilies. Here you'll see blossoms in myriad colors on stems ranging from 1 to 5 feet tall. Individual flowers last but a day, but plants typically open successive blooms over four to five weeks. Rebloomers offer several performances a year, while a handful of daylilies called everbloomers flower nearly all summer long. Here's the lowdown from Mark on how to get the best from these simple beauties.

Daylily Basics
Plant in full sun for the most blooms. Daylilies tolerate just about any well-drained soil, but for optimal results, work in lots of organic matter (such as peat moss, chopped leaves, composted manure, and kitchen compost) before planting. Water deeply, and then mulch with 2 to 3 inches of ground bark or pine straw. Mark feeds his plants in spring and fall with Espoma Plant-tone 5-3-3, an organic fertilizer that supplies beneficial soil microbes.

Daylily Combinations
Daylilies need not stand alone. They look great combined with other flowering perennials and shrubs. Mark suggests salvia, purple coneflower, Russian sage, fernleaf yarrow, summer phlox, coreopsis, black-eyed Susan, blazing star, sedum, heuchera, ornamental grasses, and butterfly bush.

Extend Daylily Season
You can enjoy daylily blooms for months on end by combining early bloomers (such as 'Maytime Orange' and 'Sooner Gold') with midseason bloomers (such as 'Lavender Eyes,' 'Peach Fairy,' 'Plum Beauty,' and 'Treasure Gold') and late bloomers (such as 'August Ruby,' 'Buttered Popcorn,' 'Gold Bullion,' and 'Orange Float'). Or add rebloomers and everbloomers to the mix (such as 'Barbara Mitchell,' 'Bitsy,' 'Frankly Scarlet,' 'Happy Returns,' 'Lemon Lollipop,' 'Pardon Me,' 'Ruby Stella,' and 'Stella de Oro').

Daylily Pest Control
Daylilies suffer very few pests, but deer top the list because they crave daylilies like filet mignon. If they plague your garden, treat plants with a deer repellent, such as Liquid Fence or Deer Off. Another serious pest is called daylily rust. This disease speckles the leaves with raised, orange-brown spots. Rust spores need 100% humidity for five hours to attack, so don't crowd your plants and never water with sprinklers at night. Keep the foliage dry.

Visit The Viettes!
Their nursery and plant center is located at 994 Long Meadow Road, Fishersville, Virginia, a short distance from I-81 and I-64. Open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, go to viette.com.