When my friend and former Southern Living photographer, Mary Carolyn Pindar, recently posted this daylily photo on Facebook, I told her I was totally going to rip it off for my own uses. As Grumpy is a man of his word, here it is. You can see why both she and I love daylilies. You don't have to stick to the wild orange "ditch lilies" that take over your garden in a wink. You can enjoy well-behaved clumpers that come in about every color but blue.
Yep, you can grow red ones, gold ones, orange ones, apricot ones, pink ones, lavender ones, purple ones, nearly white ones, nearly black ones, and bicolored ones. You can buy ones with big flowers, small flowers, ruffled flowers, semi-double flowers, and double flowers. Some grow tall (up to 4 feet), some grow short (1 foot). Some bloom early, some bloom midseason (May and June), and some bloom late. Most bloom over a single 3 to 4 week period. Others (called "rebloomers") bloom off and on all summer into fall. And some offer blossoms that are sweetly fragrant.
Daylilies are also about the easiest perennials to grow. They're the first perennials I'd suggest to beginning gardeners. All they basically need are full to part sun and well-drained soil. Their only serious pest is deer. Deer love daylilies, so if deer are plentiful where you live, you'll have to spray your plants with deer repellent.
Most garden centers have daylilies now and you can find Mom and Pop daylily gardens with plants for sale all over. Oakes Daylilies in Corryton, Tennessee is a great online source with a mind-boggling selection. Here are a few of their offerings.
Large, ruffled blooms, grows 24 inches tall, mid-late season.
Huge, fragrant blooms, grows 30" tall, mid-late season, rebloomer.
How purple is that? Abundant blooms, grows 36 inches tall, midseason, rebloomer.
Humongous, fragrant blooms, grows 32 inches tall, mid-late season, rebloomer.
Gigantic, spidery blooms, grows 36 inches tall, mid-late season.
Make Your Own Daylilies The reason daylilies come in so many different colors, shapes, and sizes is that the size and accessibility of their male and female flower parts makes them the easiest flowers to hybridize I know of. Anyone -- yes, even you -- can do it. Follow these directions.
1. Select two different daylilies you want to cross. From the flower that will form seed, remove all of the yellow-tipped stamens (male parts), leaving only the long, whitish stalk called the pistil (female part). This will prevent the flower from pollinating itself.
2. Next, remove a single stamen from the other daylily. Brush its yellow pollen onto the end of the other flower's pistil. This should combine their genes. There's no telling what you'll get, but that's part of the fun.
3. Mark the base of the flower you just cross-pollinated with a twist-tie or something so you won't forget which one it was after the flower falls off. A green seed pod should form.
4. After the seed pod turns brown, remove the shiny, black seeds and plant them. Your baby daylilies should give you their first blooms in a couple of years. Good luck!