Magazine article Sunset

Daylilies That Win in the West

Magazine article Sunset

Daylilies That Win in the West

Article excerpt

Plant the best performers for your region

Why is the daylily (Hemerocallis hybrids) the most popular perennial in the West? For one thing, it grows in virtually all of our climates. In the moist Pacific Northwest, daylilies develop such luxurious foliage that it's wise to select tall-stemmed varieties if you want to see the flowers. In Northern California, nature supplies daylilies with the perfect balance of rainfall and sun. And daylilies bloom like the dickens in coastal Southern California, even outflowering roses. In California's Central Valley and other hot inland locations, the foliage may grow shorter, but the flowers come just as abundantly. Gardeners in colder intermountain areas can grow deciduous varieties hardy enough to stand temperatures as low as -35. Even in Southwest deserts, where daylilies face more of a challenge, they do surprisingly well when given afternoon shade and plenty of water.

Another reason daylilies are popular is that they're so easy to grow. There are no disease or insect pests worth mentioning. Gophers leave them alone and deer usually do too. Even being trampled by kids or dogs or run over by a lawnmower doesn't faze them for long.

Variety is another plus. Though there is an abundance of yellow- and orange-flowered daylilies, there are also plenty of romantic pinks and lavenders, dramatic reds and purples, and exotic browns. The foliage can be as fine as grass or as coarse as corn.

Planting and care

In most Western climates, bare-root and container-grown plants can go in the ground anytime from spring through midautumn. In the desert, wait to plant until the soil cools down in fall.

In most areas, give daylilies the sunniest spot in your garden. In the desert, protect from afternoon sun by planting them in a spot where they'll get filtered shade or an eastern exposure. For best performance amend the soil with organic matter such as compost before planting. Daylilies will survive considerable drought, but for generous bloom they need ample water during their growing period.

Star performers

Wherever you garden, there's a daylily that's just right for you. Some daylilies perform well in all climates. The most notable example is 'Bitsy', a variety with lemon yellow flowers, that outblooms any other daylily yet on the market, flowering up to 290 days a year in mild areas like Southern California and Hawaii.

Other daylilies, though, only put on their best show in certain climates. 'Stella de Oro', a deciduous variety, is an excellent choice for gardeners in colder areas like Colorado or Montana, but it doesn't perform well in Southern California.

We surveyed Western growers, landscape architects, nursery staff, and daylily society members to find out the star players in their areas.

Winners for all Western regions

'Busy'. Lemon yellow. 2-inch flowers, 26-inch sterns (technically known as scapes), 20-inch leaves; evergreen, 2002 All-- American Daylily.

'Cranberry Baby'. Rosy red. 2 3/4-inch flowers, 15-inch stems, 10-inch leaves; deciduous. Compact habit.

'Judith'. Coral pink with rose eye. 5 1/2-inch flowers, 30-inch stems, 18-inch leaves; deciduous. Heavy bloomer. 2002 All-American Daylily.

'Leebea Orange Crush'. Bright orange with darker eye and green throat. 6-inch flowers, 28-inch stems, 22-inch leaves; semievergreen. Fragrant. 2002 All-American Daylily.

Northern California Any of the daylilies listed for other regions will do well here.

Coastal Southern California and Hawaii

'Dixie Land Band'. …

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