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Daylily (c) Cheryl Shanahan

An orange flower? In my garden? Yes…..I have a few orange daylilies, which I inherited from the prior owner. Every time I think I have them all properly cordoned off, they come into season and the tell-tale blooms remind me I have to do some transplanting in the fall. This year is no exception!

The daylily’s proper name is “Hemerocallis“: Greek words hemera, meaning “day” and kallus, meaning “beauty.”  True to its name: the blooms last for a single day. The plant, however, pumps out blooms all summer long.

There are over 35,0000 cultivars in all sorts of colors, including apricot, gold, lavender, pink, red, yellow and the ubiquitous orange.

Daylilies are very vigorous, and if they are happy where they’re planted, they’ll spread (Steve Bender, the gardening editor at Southern Living warns us by saying something akin to, “Don’t turn your back on them, or they’ll end up in bed with you.”). Like many perennials, they benefit from periodic division. Expand your beds, or pass along the cast-offs to your friends (or enemies).

Virginia has a daylily treasure, in the form of Viette Nurseries in Fishersville, VA. Martin Viette came to America from Switzerland in 1920. While he got his horticultural start in Long Island, NY, his son Andre moved the family business to the Shenandoah Valley in the mid-1970s. My goal this year is to make a pilgrimage to their property!

What Daylilies Like:

  • Full sun (minimum: 6 hours)
  • Just about any soil type, as long as it is well-drained
  • To be planted AWAY from trees and shrubs
  • To be divided every 3-4 years in the early spring or just after flowering
  • To have their seed pods cut
  • To have a winter mulch applied
  • To have their dead foliage removed in the spring before the new growth starts
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