Not Your Grandmother’s Daylily
October 20th, 2017 by Smith-Gilbert Gardens
Written by SGG Volunteer and Master Gardener Rita Buehner
Orange daylilies growing in masses of wild clumps by country roads and gardens are a joy to behold in June. They provide many days of blooms and a cloud of color. My grandma’s generation counted these hardy beauties among their favorite plants. And so do I!
But, oh, how these plants have evolved! Grandma’s orange “ditch weeds” provided the basic genetic material for today’s daylilies, but you’d hardly know it. Modern varieties bloom in an extravaganza that’s multicolored and multiformed. With the right mix of cultivars, a daylily garden can have blooms from May through mid-July and later.
A “Single” bloom form has three petals, three sepals, six stamens and one pistil. “Polymerous” forms can have so many petaloids that they resemble a fluffy peony. “Spiders” exhibit long petals with a length to width ratio greater than 4:1 . The “Unusual Form” category falls outside the definitions of the other three. “Scapes” are the stems that bear the flowers and can be up to 60 inches tall. A scape can bear 10 to 20+ blooms … EACH SCAPE !
And, yes, a daylily bloom lasts only one day … BUT … a blooming season for a good clump is 3 weeks or more. So … do the math:
If a three year old daylily clump has 10 scapes
and each scape bears 20 blooms
that clump will put out 200 flowers in its 3 week blooming season!
3 weeks = 21 days, right?
So divide the 200 blooms by 21 days
and our little clump bears an average of 10 blooms per day for 3 weeks!
It’s not just possible, it’s probable!
Sometimes, if weather, water, genetics and other conditions (fairy dust, etc.) are right, the clump will rebloom after its regular blooming season. In fact, the cultivar ‘Get Jiggy’ in SGG’s Pollinator Garden has developed a rare “rebloom” scape in October and will begin blossoming in the next week or so and continue for 1 to 2 weeks thereafter. Go over and take a look – it’s in the Daylily Section of the Pollinator Garden by the Red Barn.