DESIGN WITH DAYLILIES
   

 

   

Although many plants have evolved to tolerate extremes, few are as reliably resilient as daylilies. They tolerate drought/flood, fire/freeze, physical and chemical abuse and still send up cheerful flower displays. No wonder Greenwood daylilies grow around Las Vegas casinos, Malibu mansions, Disneyland and a Saudi palace, along with schools, hospitals, and roadsides from coast to coast.

   
   
   

 

 

PLANTING POSSIBILITIES

   
 

Flooding, Rain Runoff
Most daylilies can survive being submerged for several weeks, making them perfect for beautifying detention basins and rain gardens. Create a low spot near a downspout and let daylilies clean up your runoff. Unlike cannas and many other plants used in rain gardens, daylilies have active roots during our rainy season, absorbing silt and pollutants.

   
   
   
   
   
   
     
 

Fires and Trucks
Moisture laden daylily foliage is hard to ignite, as our experience confirms. One fire parted around a daylily field, leaving our landlords’ home untouched, then rejoined itself and continued burning for miles, cutting off power/water for the month of July. No daylilies died. Here in Somis, several fire trucks parked on our daylilies for safety as a brushfire raged around us, confirming that daylilies are fire and fire truck resistant. If daylilies do burn, regrowth occurs rapidly. No need for over seeding.

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
     
 

Scenic Roadways
With their tolerance for temperature extremes, reflected heat and dust, daylilies have become popular roadside and parking lot subjects. Daylilies don’t scratch errant cars or drivers, and errant cars don’t cause lasting damage to daylilies. In cold climates daylilies tolerate the additional punishments of road salts and snow plow blades.

 
   
   
       
       
       
         
   

Erosion Control, Slopes
Too often, inexpensive but temporary ground covers are planted on slopes that require “ground holders”. Gazanias and Red Apple (Aptenia) are fast and easy to install, but just go along for the ride when their shallow roots allow slope soils to slide. Additional erosion soon follows. The massive fleshy roots of daylilies penetrate deeply and can hold rain soaked soil even if the foliage (cover) is compromised.

   
       
 

 

   
       
       
       
       
         
   

Erosion Control, Slopes
Too often, inexpensive but temporary ground covers are planted on slopes that require “ground holders”. Gazanias and Red Apple (Aptenia) are fast and easy to install, but just go along for the ride when their shallow roots allow slope soils to slide. Additional erosion soon follows. The massive fleshy roots of daylilies penetrate deeply and can hold rain soaked soil even if the foliage (cover) is compromised.

   
       
       
       
       
       
       
         
   

Schools
School plantings require lots of color (preferably the school colors), low allergy potential, no thorns or sharp branches and the ability to survive occasional trampling. Our plants are also diplomatic, as they can be found at both USC and UCLA.

   
       
       
       
       
         
   

Seasonal Color Beds
Changing out seasonal color beds can be expensive. With varieties that bloom over 200 days/ year, daylilies are a low maintenance option. If Christmas color is a priority, cut back daylilies to the ground, planting poinsettias, cyclamen etc. between them. A fresh, full crop of New Year daylily foliage will sprout in January.

   
       
       
       
       
       
         
   

Drought Tolerance
Daylilies are drought tolerant, but water loving. For maximum bloom, water 1-2 times per week. Daylily roots store water. When that dwindles, (usually after a month without water) daylilies go drought deciduous. We grow some daylilies with Cleveland Sage, a California native. Both get monthly summer water, going drought deciduous by September. Salvia varieties are not equally drought tolerant, and neither are daylily varieties. Please contact us regarding the most drought tolerant daylily varieties for your area.

   
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
         
   

By the Sea, or the Pool
Our daylilies are descended from mostly Asian coastal and island species,  thriving with constant wind, sea spray and salty soils. When Galveston flooded with seawater, daylilies were
among the few garden plant survivors. These same traits make daylilies a good choice around pools and pool chemicals. Their lack of scratchy branches or thorns is also helpful.

   
       
       
       
       
       
       
         
   

Dogs? Woof!  Cats? Careful
Daylilies are edible for humans or dogs, but not cats. Our dogs have played in and chewed on daylilies since puppyhood with no ill effects. Daylilies survive rambunctious puppies and placement near fire hydrants. Neighbors’ cats hunt in our fields regularly, apparently not tempted to eat the daylilies or unaware of their known toxicity to cats.

   
       
       
       
       
       
         
   

DESIGN SUGGESTIONS

   
       
   
   
   

Mass, Don’t Mix
When facing too many bloom choices it is tempting to mix  for a “natural effect.” This is a mistake for a number of reasons.

1.It’s not a natural effect. Nature usually provides masses with a few dominant colors. Think of poppies or lupines.

2. Every daylily variety has a unique foliage character. Used properly, daylily foliage provides great texture. Randomly mixed foliage creates the foliage equivalent of a bad hair day in the garden.

3. Mixing usually muddies the effect, just as mixing colors of paint yields  beige or brown.
Rather than mixing varieties, try grouping 3 to 5 of one variety, mass a low type in front of a taller one or create visual impact with a mass of one cultivar.

   
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
         
   

Select Regionally Appropriate, Named Varieties
Daylilies thrive in all 50 states, but each variety has a favorite climate. The 3 most popular daylily varieties, ‘Stella de Oro’, ‘Pardon Me’ and ‘Happy Returns’ suffer in Southern California. Along with requiring winter chill, they are deciduous (no foliage) for 3 months. On the other hand , some of our favorite evergreen winter-blooming varieties would freeze to death in Maine. Many Florida daylily hybrids require hot,humid nights for blooms to open, causing disappointment in gardens with cool Pacific summer nights. A rare few daylily varieties perform well across the U.S.A., earning the All American Daylily title. As a test site for this award, www.allamericandaylilies.com we have access to nationwide daylily performance characteristics, enabling us to help you succeed with daylilies wherever they are going. Amazingly, most nurseries and designers label daylilies by colors or just as “hybrids”, an approach that ended with roses over 50 years ago.

   
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
         
   

Beware of “Collector” Varieties
The web has an overwhelming array of daylily images with ruffles, picotees, fringe and gold braiding.  While these exotic bloom types are tempting, keep in mind that most landscapes are viewed from a distance of more than 6 inches. Detail that is striking on a show table may be lost in the garden. Beauty is personal. A daylily collector might rave about a plant with massive branched bloom stalks (scapes,) while a designer could be seeking a more tidy habit and a longer bloom time. Blooms with heavy substance are striking, but can be quite messy after they close.

   
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
         
   

Consider Bloom Height
Daylily bloom heights range from 10 inches to over 6 feet. Of course short ones are great  for edging and tall ones belong further back, but consider how high the blooms are held above the foliage. A variety with large blooms held just above the foliage (like the VistaTM  series), provides a great mass effect and can can hide the “knobby knees” of rose bushes. A variety with blooms held high above the foliage would interfere with the rose blooms, but could be ideal in front of a low window. The foliage would not block the window and the blooms could be seen from inside. 

   
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
         
   

Use Blue, Not “Blue” Flowers
Blue brings out all the flower and foliage colors in your design, but “blue” daylilies are harder to find than “blue” roses or balanced budgets. The “bluest” daylilies are really shades of mauve or Photoshop. We consider Agapanthus DejaTM Sky Blue an honorary reblooming blue daylily.

   
       
       
       
       
         
   

A Word About White
Only one daylily variety, ‘Gentle Shepherd’ is truly white. Unfortunately its foliage is so unattractive and disease prone that we will not sell it.  Our favorites, Polar Vista and Lady Elizabeth can appear white on their own or near dark foliage, but a hint of yellow shows when they adjoin white roses or alyssum.   

   
       
       
       
       
       
         
         
         
         
   
   
   

©Greenwood Daylily Gardens, Inc ~ 8000 Balcom Canyon Road ~ Somis, CA 93066
Tel: 562-494-8944 ~ Fax: 562-494-0486 ~ greenwoodgarden.com

   
   
   
   
Open to the Public Saturdays April - June