When is a Lily Not a Lily?
It might surprise some people to know that the daylily is not a true lilium. It is called a lily because the flowers resemble those of the lilium genus. A native of Asia, the botanical name of this herbaceous perennial is Hemerocallis. The beautiful blooms only last one day, but because each plant bears so many flowers, it still manages to have a flowering period of over six months. Each clump of daylilies has many flower stalks and each stalk can bear up to fifty flowers.
Daylilies are the ideal flower to grow in anyoneís garden. They are flood, drought and frost hardy and those that become dormant in winter even survive snow. They are not susceptible to disease, donít mind seaside conditions and are not fussy about soil type. They donít mind shade, either, but will flower better in full sun. What more could one ask of a plant? A good colour range? Daylilies have that, too.
These days, daylilies come in not just yellow and orange, but a huge variety of colours. Some are even bi-coloured. There are big round ones, triangular, ruffled and laced white ones, some have watermarks, others have fancy eyes. What a variety!
And they have as diverse a range of size as they do colour and shape. The smallest flowers are 3cm across, while the largest make 20cm. Foliage can range from under 30cm to over 1.5m. The smaller varieties with grass-like foliage are quite suitable for borders, and all should be planted about 60 cm apart with the crown at ground level. Fertilise and mulch well for the best performance.
Potted daylilies can be planted into the garden at any time of year, but if you buy bare-rooted ones from the nursery, then late winter/early spring is a good time to plant them, and again in late summer through autumn. This avoids the absolute hottest and coldest parts of the Aussie year.
Many of the modern daylilies have been developed in the USA and so will be found in specialist nurseries. The cost can be rather high, due to the thousands of plants that must be grown each year to produce genuine advances. But it will be a worthwhile investment in your garden for such a hardy and long-flowering plant is surely hard to beat. They are the perfect low-maintenance plant.
Get free plants! Hydrangeas will be shooting soon and they are one of the easiest plants to propagate. The hibiscus also grows easily from cuttings. I pop pieces into any spare pot plant and they seem to grow roots with no trouble. Fuchsia cuttings can also be taken in spring, but will do even better in the autumn.
Softwood tip cuttings can be taken while the plant is growing well and the easiest way of making a mini-greenhouse to help roots develop is to simply cut a soft-drink bottle in half. Poke a hole in the bottom with your garden fork, fill it with potting mix and push in two or three cuttings, then pop the top half back over the bottom half.
If you find it hard to slip on, make a vertical cut of about 2cm in the bottom half. This will give a little bit of extra space. You can also use a clear plastic bag for the top if you prop it up with some twigs. An elastic band will prevent the wind from blowing it off.
Friends love it when you bring them a gift from your own garden.
Until next time, happy gardening!