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Beautiful for a Day Daylilies

The Latin name for the daylily in Greek means “beautiful for a day”. Though a single flower may last only for a single day, a flower stalk contains many buds.

Some may think of the ordinary daylily found in ditches and along roadsides as a native plant, but it was introduced to the U.S. and became naturalized. Used extensively in China for many years, daylilies were introduced to Europe and the New World.

Daylilies enjoy tremendous popularity because they have earned it. They are relatively pest and disease resistant, and they are generally low maintenance as well. For all of these reasons, daylilies are favorites for specimens, borders, and massed plantings.

I know of very few perennials that can surpass the beauty and versatility of the daylily. So many varieties are available that there is one in most every shade except blue.

A daylily cultivar released by the National Arboretum is now widely available in nurseries. Chesapeake Belle, a dwarf resulted from the breeding program at the Floral and Nursery Crops Research Unit at the arboretum. Chesapeake Belle daylily has gold-orange blossoms over 3 inches wide on 9 ˝” tall flower stalks. It is a repeat bloomer from summer through early fall. This miniature, only 5” tall, is quite hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as –5 F. Look for it in garden centers and retail stores in the fall of 2001 or 2002. This one is worth waiting for, as it is quite superior.

There are a number of perennial trials around the country rating daylilies. Michigan State University released its results after observing some of the plants for three years. And Miss Mary Mary daylily was rated in the top 20%. On a scale of 1-5 with five being exceptional, Miss Mary Mary scored 4. The reason it didn’t rate a 5 was mainly due to the lack of floral uniformity, but to home gardeners I’m sure such uniformity is of little concern. Most impressive was its amazing floriferous nature as it bloomed intermittently throughout the summer following its main early blooms. Don’t be alarmed if it has few blooms the first year you plant it, but be prepared for a real show in later years.

In the past, the All-American Daylily Selection Council (AADSC) has awarded its All-American awards to top-ranking varieties. They have tested and trailed over 6000 varieties in all hardiness zones of the U.S. over a period of 15 years or so. From those, they have named 14 winners.

Black Eyed Stella daylily earned a coveted All-America title by blooming for as long as 270 days in milder areas of the country. Its beauty is matched by its hardiness and heat tolerance.

For 2006, they named two winners. Persian Market daylily is a vigorous, sturdy plant with a very long bloom season, around three months. Its flower stalks are over two feet in height. The very showy pinkish-salmon blossoms with a rose halo are seven inches in diameter.

Buttered Popcorn daylily blooms even longer than Persian Market, nearly 100 days. Opening on 2˝ to three foot tall stalks, this sports sunny golden blossoms. This disease resistant cultivar is amazingly heat and cold tolerant.

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