Daylilies in the Landscape

Years ago, miles of banks along the cuts and fills of Pennsylvania highways had been planted with daylily Europa. When more root divisions are needed, the highway planting crews merely thinned out older plantings for fresh supplies.

Red and yellow daylilliesPin

These highway groupings have spread into weedless and grassless mats of day-lilies which check erosion effectively and permanently.

Then, too, the “roadside daylily” Europa does not bear seeds which, from other types of bank plantings, become a bird or wind-carried invaders into adjoining farmlands.

The daylily, or hemerocallis, foliage along these Pennsylvania highways remains green, glossy, and healthy from Spring to Fall. The canopy of bloom is new and fresh daily for three to four weeks – never needing spraying or weeding, and not Winterkilling.

Rocky banks, gravel banks, clay or silt banks, and even ash and cinder banks are soon converted into landscape beauty by the roadside perennial. Only in wet spots and in dense shade are there any limitations.

Here, then, is a perfect landscape subject in these days of garden labor shortage, except that its blooms close by late afternoon, and not all gardeners like its color effect of fulvous copper and orange.

In Europa’s flower, however, petals are mingled and hidden in many colors, especially red and pink.

The hybridizing of Europa with many other species of daylilies, through successive generations for years, has produced thousands of new daylily types, sizes, colors, and combinations of colors, including practically five months of a blooming season.

From these thousands of possibilities for the home landscape, here are a few guidelines to use in your day lily bulb plant selection:

  • Plants that are hardy, free, and long blooming.
  • Bloom stems are durable and liberally branched.
  • Blooms that do not wilt, blotch, or “burn.
  • Blossoms that remain open in the evenings.
  • A range of seasons, from Spring to Fall.
  • Sizes from freesia to amaryllis.
  • Heights from below tulips to above delphiniums.
  • Colors range from yellow, gold, brown, buff, pink, red, and purple, in clear shades, patterns, bi-colors, and blends.

I would like to see, although I would not particularly recommend, a garden planted exclusively to hemerocallis.

A proper selection by the gardener of available varieties would produce a more continued, varied, colorful, and dependable bloom, from Spring to Fall, than in almost any other garden.

It isn’t May or June without peonies, but as has been said: “A peony bed is very boring between bloom seasons.”

Therefore, between the 50 peonies, along my peony walk, planted in a zigzag double row, I have produced an equivalent “zigzag” of 50 different daylilies, consequently a profusion of bloom from May to October.

In Sweet Soil

Between the iris, phlox, delphiniums, and chrysanthemums, in my limed perennial beds, are scattered daylilies of various seasons, heights, sizes, and colors; again for bloom from Spring to Fall.

The limed soil does not bother the daylilies, and when I do not like a resulting combination, I transplant the plants at once “while in color” (they can take it) to the mix I like and see.

In Acid Soil

My rhododendrons and azaleas are sun tolerant sorts. In front of them is an assortment of all red and pink hemerocallis. Between and behind are the yellows.

Most of them bloom after the rhododendrons and azaleas and throughout the Summer. The acid soil does not bother the daylilies.

At the steps from our service area, on either side of the landing, are three plants, each of hemerocallis in three varieties. Then, colorful sentinels for a full three months of successive bloom.

Other formal and natural steps are flanked with perennial and evergreen ground covers, interspersed with daylilies. The daylilies do not permit the bodies to choke them, and there are some in bloom at all times.

At the base of my retaining wall, and behind the tulips, is a row of taller and later blooming varieties that give a mass display. In front of the tulips, a dwarf and early kind blooms with the tulips.

On top of another retaining wall and in front of an evergreen hedge are three varieties in three rows of different heights, colors, and seasons to have a mass effect for three months. My bank plantings are mainly Baltic ivy but also tolerate colonies of daffodils, astilbe, and daylilies.

In the foreground of the lilac and other shrub borders are mixed plantings of their favorite plants. Some do not bloom because of too much shade when lilac pruning is neglected, but when the “overhang” is removed, they revive and bloom the following Summer.

There was once a bed of tulips, daffodils, scillas, iris, tree peonies, daylilies, and a Japanese cherry tree along my driveway. Lack of culture and the cherry tree have dispossessed all but the scillas, daffodils, and daylilies.

by H Seyler

13127 by NA