Question: We would like to have flowers always coming in bloom in the garden of our new home. We are first-time home buyers, and this will be our first garden. Are daylilies a good choice for long-term blooming? Genna, Tupelo, Mississippi
Answer: Genna, gardens are loveliest when they are planned to have a succession of blooms.
Then they are continually fascinating, with the flowers of one plant following immediately or even overlapping the color of another.
They are not gardens devoted to one plant with bloom for only a fraction of the year.
This idea is not original – the Greeks and Romans knew of it. But it was new to me several years ago, and I was an iris fancier. My friends, iris fanciers like myself, grew nothing but iris.
When in bloom, our gardens were big slices of heaven, but they were drab and uninteresting for the other eleven months of the year.
My “A-ha moment” came in 2001 when I visited an iris and hemerocallis garden in Massachusetts. The garden was planted with iris and hemerocallis (Daylily) in the same display beds.
When the iris were in bloom, the clumps were separated by the highly decorative hemerocallis foliage. When the hemerocallis bloomed, the iris foliage was not too noticeable. And this combination gave them three months of bloom.
This was important because, in 2003, I started “a new garden” and needed daylilies for its development. I had also become interested in daffodils, so now all three flowers were utilized – daylilies, iris, and daffodils.
This new garden is a garden without seasons; the daffodils start to bloom in early April, the iris in May, and the hemerocallis in June, and these last continue until mid-August.
Flower Garden Layout For Blooming Performance
The new garden, adjoining my older gardens on two sides, offered endless possibilities for development as it sloped southeast and had beautiful mountain views. I laid out long beds with flagstone walks between to utilize this view.
The beds are curved at the beginning and end to connect with the older garden to the south. These display beds were originally 6′ feet in width but were later enlarged to 8′ and 10′ feet.
Iris were planted in front of a 42″ inch square, so it was possible to plant three rhizomes of four varieties in one enclosure.
Between these squares, also in front, were planted my choice of Irish and English daffodils. They were given a space of 36″ inches in front but only a depth of 24″ inches, so I could plant a choice daylily behind them.
This broke up the monotony of a continuous iris planting. In the back of all of these, I planted two rows of hemerocallis seedlings, and when I widened the beds, I could repeat the daffodil and iris planting on the other side.
Small Garden With Long And Wide Beds
This idea of long and wide beds is not always feasible in a small garden. But I have smaller beds in other parts of my garden, seldom more than 3′ feet in depth. These usually have daffodils in front and hemerocallis in back.
In making new beds or replanting older ones, I would caution you not to plant too closely; iris need space and demand air circulation. Daffodils planted between them permit the air to circulate because the daffodil foliage dies down in early July.
Daylilies have hundreds of small feeding roots and must not be planted too close to iris which might steal their food.
Consequently, if one wants a fine display of daffodils, iris, and hemerocallis in one bed, the plants cannot be crowded. Remember that quality and not quantity yields the best dividends.
I used hemlocks in this new garden as a windbreak and a background planting. I prefer a green background for displaying flowers, and the hemlocks also give height to the park.
Roots of trees, if planted too close to garden beds, will compete with the plants for food, and trenching or annual root pruning with a spade will be necessary.
Daylilies The Ideal Garden Flower
Hemerocallis are, in my estimation, the most nearly perfect flowers to use in the garden. No matter what kind of garden you have or what soil, hemerocallis will give the most bloom during the summer months and for the most excellent length of time of any perennial.
They also require the least attention. Some daylilies start to bloom with the iris, others not until late July. They usually open in the morning and continue for a day. The evening blooming daylilies open in the evening and give 24 hours of bloom.
New daylily varieties have so many buds on a stalk that a clump remains in flower for at least three weeks.
And because the varieties do not all start to bloom together, the season should spread over at least two and a half months. Some plants even bloom again in the fall. This is important in the south as this lengthens the blooming season.
Daylilies now come in practically all colors and shapes, so they can be supplied if one likes a definite styling.
In my iris garden, I prefer the lighter colors and use the dark ones only as accent points. But dark-colored hemerocallis is not objectionable, and many can be used, for they give character to the planting if soft yellows, oranges, bright reds, and pinks are also used.
Try some new daylily varieties in your garden this year. You can’t go wrong.
4010 by by K Smith