Delightful Daylilies

    • Dress up for the Fourth! Red, white and blue petunias, verbena or combinations of these with lobelia, geraniums, impatiens and salvia will make a nice display for the Fourth of July.
    • Roses need water and fertilizer to keep blooming through the summer. Watch for pests and diseases and treat as soon as you see trouble.
    • Check young trees and fruit trees for suckers and water sprouts. Rub suckers off as they appear and cut water sprouts off apple and pear trees.
    • Fragrant star jasmine is in full bloom right now. Plant one in a semi-shaded spot where you can enjoy its lovely perfume.
    • Check for squash, or “stink”, bugs on squash and pumpkins. Hand-pick grey-brown adults and destroy red egg clusters on the leaves. Use pyrethrins to control heavy infestations.

Delightful Daylilies

Some of the most beautiful, and often overlooked, perennials are the daylilies. Few plants offer flowers in so many colors with so little care. These hardy perennials have blooms that are both lovely and edible, and for some reason, deer do not find them interesting.

Daylilies originally came in simple colors of yellow, orange or red. But now, thanks to hybridizers, they bloom in almost every color imaginable. Flowers may have ruffled petals, smooth petals, variegated coloring, dark or light throats, and many other traits.

Varieties include everything from 1-foot-tall dwarfs to those standing 4 feet tall with flowers measuring up to 5 inches across.

Daylilies will grow almost anywhere, but they do best with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. Light yellow varieties, many shades of pink, and delicate pastels need full sun to bring out their lovely colorings. Many red and purple cultivars benefit from partial shade in the hottest part of the day because dark colors absorb heat and do not withstand the sun as well as lighter colors.

They are also not fussy about soil as long as it is well-drained. They do appreciate water while they are blooming. Water thoroughly but infrequently for the strongest plants. Mulch will help retain moisture in the soil. Once established, plants need only occasional watering.

Daylilies may be evergreen, semi-evergreen or deciduous. This has nothing to do with their hardiness (to cold weather) and they are all hardy in most all parts of California.

As the name implies, the daylily flowers last only a day, but nature compensates by crowding each plant with several flowering spikes that push well above the arching sword-shaped leaves. Each flower spike holds a dozen or more flower buds. Remove the spent blossoms to keep the plants looking fresh and beautiful.

Considered a delicacy by wild food gatherers and knowledgeable chefs, the daylily has a long history in Chinese medicine and cuisine. Daylily flower buds and blossoms – especially the pale yellow and orange varieties – have a sweet flavor that adds interest to salads as well as cooked dishes. Leaves and roots are also edible.

One of the best loved varieties is Stella d’Oro, a dwarf plant that blooms over a long season. It blooms with heavy clusters of 2-1/2 in. yellow blossoms through the summer and into fall.

Use daylilies in borders, on banks, along driveways, among evergreen shrubs or along streams. Plant dwarf varieties in rock gardens or as edgings. Echinacea, Perovskia, Achillea, Coreopsis, Salvia, and Buddleia are wonderful companion plants, and they will bring your garden alive with the flitting of butterflies and hummingbirds.

Nothing says “summer” better than the colorful blooms of daylilies!

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