Like most people, 12 years ago when the term daylily was mentioned, I thought of the cute little orange lilies that grew along the sides of roads. I actually had a friend give me some so that I could start a border in my back yard. They were easy to take care of and multiplied very well.
I was happy, or so I thought until my wife came home one evening and said that we had been invited to attend a meeting of The Raleigh Hemerocallis Club. I had no idea what Hemerocallis meant. I still have to look up the spelling.
It started simply enough. The club gave me a daylily for being a new member and I won another one as a door prize. My wife brought home five from a trip she took. Today my one acre yard is covered in beds of daylilies, somewhere around 750 different varieties.
Daylilies come in just about every size and color except for blue. The hybridizers are coming closer and closer to a true blue each year. There are more than 65,000 registered daylilies available today with the number increasing quickly each year.
The blooming season for daylilies is extensive but most of our flowers in the Triangle are “showing off” from late May until mid-July. There are daylilies bred for early blooming, late blooming and reblooming.
I know the season is ready to start when H. ‘Lynn’s Delight’ blooms around Memorial Day. Many people are familiar with ‘Stella De Oro’, which is a simple little yellow flower that blooms steadily through fall. If you like Stella, perhaps you should try and grow ‘Dempsey’s Everblooming Gold’, a larger gold flower with many of the same habits.
Red was my favorite color of daylily when I started out, and the bigger the better. I loved ‘Red Volunteer‘, ‘Kent’s Favorite Two’ and ‘Mama Mia‘.
Today I love the small and miniature flowers as well as the UFO’s (Unusual Forms). Some of my favorites are ‘Island Hopping‘, ‘Custard Candy’ and ‘Baby Boomer‘. Miniature favorites include ‘Spacecoast Tiny Perfection‘, ‘Little Joy’ and ‘Paradise Prince‘.
I enjoy entering flower shows usually held in June. Anyone can enter, but to get to the head table you must be a member of the American Hemerocallis Society. There are usually nine categories that a person can enter: Miniature flowers, Small flowers, Large flowers, Extra Large flowers, Doubles, UFO’s, Spiders, Popularity Poll flowers and a Youth category.
Through the years my tastes in daylilies have increased. When I started out, I paid $5 to $15 per plant. When someone suggested that the newer flowers were $75 to $100, I said “not me”. Last year I bought my first $200 daylily.
What are you waiting for? It is time to try your hand at growing these pretty, easy care plants. The next time you see a “ditch lily”, think of the many faces of daylilies available to us now.
Jim Sovine is a member of The Raleigh Hemerocallis Club. For more information about the club, visit www.raleighdaylily.org.