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Posts tagged ‘hemerocallis’

Spring. (And a Seedling Update)

So… A couple of months ago I planted my daylily seeds. At the time only a couple of the seeds had germinated. It was cold out and there seemed to be no hope for Spring. At the time we didn’t know our Winter was just about over.

Spring sprung very early this year! The last weekend of February my husband and kids went ice fishing. Two weeks later the temperatures were in the 80s! For nearly a month we had mid-summer type temperatures. My daylily and annual seedlings moved outside and stayed there for weeks. The temps are more seasonal now, but yet I hear the lawnmowers outside. Though I moved the annual seedlings back in a week ago, the daylily seedlings are still outside. I plan to plant them Tuesday, the earliest I ever have.

The daylily seedlings look a little sad, but I can tell you they are tough. They have been through wind and rain and temps into the 30s. When I plant them in the garden, the leaves they currently have will more than likely shrivel and brown. In their place however will grow bigger, greener, stronger leaves. Hopefully in the summer of 2013 the first blooms from these plants will appear.

This early Spring allowed me to prune every shrub and clean up the garden all by March 15. We have been spoiled with a super short winter this year. If Mother Nature ever wants to treat us to this again, she has my vote!



It’s cold today. I think the “high” will be around zero.  To counteract the awful temperature, I have decided to think of summer.

I started my daylily seeds about a week and a half ago and I was greeted with my first sprouts this morning. I have always been interested in gardening, I understood the whole crossing and hybridizing thing, I even had a couple of genetics classes in college. But it was only a few years ago I decided to try my hand at it. Daylilies are really easy to cross as far as the physical steps are concerned. Simply pull the anther (pollen part) off of one daylily and apply the pollen to the stigma of another daylily.

Photo from Tinkers Gardens, a great Daylily resource. Click on the photo for the website.

The science, or in my case dumb luck, behind it is a whole other thing. Developing the next great thing in daylilies is a career for many folks. They cross and grow thousands of seedlings each year, hoping to get just a couple great daylilies to market and sell. They have specific goals set for what they are trying to develop, focusing on a certain color or shape, all while maintaining an excellent plant habit. Those daylilies must have strong scapes (stems), have multiple blooms, flowers that hold up to the weather, be able to grow well in the area they live in, etc.

I too have goals, but they are a little loosey-goosey. My first year 2007, I simply crossed the four of five daylilies that I had, not really knowing what I was doing. I bought a couple of seeds on the The Lily Auction, and most of those plants by now do not even exist in my garden because I didn’t really like the results. I have toyed with height (that goal has stayed), blue eyes (eh, lost interest in that one), unusual forms (I really like what are called spiders, long narrow petals), green throats (the center of the flower) and loud strong colors (my big thing right now). Last year’s seeds which will bloom in 2013 or 2014 should be colorful, tall and have big green throats. At least that is what I hope!

As of today, I have approximately 200 daylilies in the garden, 140 of those my own seedlings. Each year I planted around 150-200 seeds. None typically bloom the first year, and about half bloom the second year. Therefore, I have some seeds that I collected in 2009 that I have not yet seen bloom. There are even a couple from ’08, but if they don’t bloom this next summer, they are gone.

This year I had to limit myself to planting about 60 seeds. If this year is like most, almost all of them should germinate. I really only have room for about 30 in my garden, but I always find a way!

My daylily seed-starting set up.

Currently the seeds reside in plastic cups on heat mats in my basement, under a plant light. They will remain there until early to mid April, depending on the weather. I will gradually harden them off to the outside weather, and plant them outside in my seedling bed. Daylilies are tough perennials. I don’t want any babies in my garden. Therefore, other than water them for a bit after I first transplant them, I don’t do much for them but provide good soil. I only want the toughest. If they die, then I consider that part of the culling process.

Here is a photo of my first seedlings of 2012. These happen to be seeds that I bought on the lily auction. They are all about green throats and I couldn’t be more excited!

Like little blades of grass.

The rest will germinate any time from now on. I have had some that wait until the middle of summer, but most should peek through by the middle of February.

I hope you found this interesting. I will keep you updated on their progress.

The Party’s Over…

Okay, I know we are technically in the middle of Summer, but as far as I am concerned the party is over. School supplies are overflowing in the stores, Christmas decorations are for sale at the craft stores and here is the big sign, (gasp!) I am getting sick of my garden.

Not sick of gardening, but sick of this year’s garden. A couple of weeks ago I was deadheading 300+ daylily flowers a night. Now, I have maybe 20 or 30 blooms a day. I am not sure because I don’t bother to deadhead anymore.

I have begun to plan for next summer. Plants this time of year get ripped out left and right. Some plants get moved, many more composted. I have 70 more daylily seedlings waiting to be planted in my garden, and I need spots for them.

In the past years I have been a bit sentimental about my plants, especially the seedlings. But I have grown close to 500 daylily seedlings over the past few years and I can’t possibly keep them all. This year I looked at each one (both flower beauty and plant habit) and said to myself, would I buy this daylily? If no, I dug it out right then and there. If the answer was yes, I asked myself if there was one in the garden that was similar but better, if that was true, out it went.

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It was so freeing, much like cleaning out a closet. I have gotten almost all those plants that don’t thrill me 100 percent, regardless if I have grown or purchased it. It really isn’t worth the irritation to keep a plant I am not crazy for simply because I bought it on a whim in 2005.

It is still summer, but as far as I am concerned, the excitement of this year’s garden is over. It was a successful year, but now I am looking to the next growing season. Scraggly annuals, its time you shape up or you’re next!

Learn Something New Each Day(lily)…

In May of 2007 I was looking at the GardenWeb site, trying to learn a little bit about the plant Clematis. I stumbled upon the Daylily forum, though I am not sure why, because up until then I thought daylilies were just those yellow flowers that bloomed in front of every bank in America. My mom had a couple of them in other colors, but I was too stubborn to admire them.

Anyway, as I said, I stumbled upon the Daylily forum, and after viewing a couple of hundred photos and learning I could hybridize my own daylilies, I was hooked. Daylily cultivars (varieties) are all clones of the original plant. Usually these clones are produced  by simply dividing the plant, but there are times when tissue culture is used though this is not something the daylily enthusiast desires. So if you own Stella De Oro, it is an exact clone of every other Stella in the world, a piece of the original Stella hybridized back in 1975. 

Now, what I didn’t know before I stumbled on the Daylily forum is that there are about 50,000 different daylilies that are named and registered with the American Hemerocallis (Daylily) Society. What I also didn’t know is that if a daylily produces seeds, even if it was fertilized with its own pollen, it will create a unique plant with each and every seed.

I always knew that plant breeders were hybridizing, but I never realized how easy it could be. Daylilies have very accessible reproductive parts, the pistil and stamen. It is very easy to remove the pollen and apply it to the tip of the pistil, which is really as complicated as it gets. Now of course it takes more research and organization than that, but that is the fundamental science to it.

So starting in May of 2007 I became a student of the daylily. That summer I began buying different daylilies, reading the forum daily, making my own crosses and collecting the seeds, and finally allowing myself to make a couple of seed purchases on the Lily Auction.

Four years and hundreds of daylily seedlings later I am starting to get some daylilies that I am proud of. Below are some of the results that have bloomed in the last week and a half:

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I am by no means an expert, but this is very fun stuff. If you are ever in the area, please feel free to stop by and take a look!

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