Sunday, May 24, 2015

All in the Family: Daylilies

Many of us still have the old Ditch Lily daylily somewhere in a back corner.  Like Narcissus, the oldest cultivars surviving tend to have desirable characteristics.

I took pics of Ditch Lilies and Salmon Sheen and prepared to write about the evolution of modern-day Daylilies. Oh, Wait. I did that last year:

Evolution of the Daylily

-- and here they are again this year. Salmon Sheen on the right is one of my favorites. Introduced in 1951, it won the Stout Medal in 1959.  Dr. Stout gave the characteristics of a great daylily in a speech in 1957. They include:

  • Winter hardiness. 
  • Long season of bloom. 
  • Flower color that does not bleach out and petals and sepals do not curl or wilt prematurely. 
  • Flowers drop quickly after bloom on their own. 
  • Flowers stay open in the evenings. 
  • Flowers sit high enough above the foliage so as to be seen. 
  • Scapes are neither too heavy to overwhelm the plant or too thin to allow drooping. 
  • Full, lush and green foliage.
Hybridizing as far as getting new seeds is easy; bees do it.  If you want certain parents, it requires isolating the pod parent and dabbing with pollen from the other desired parent.

The hard part comes with isolating a really great daylily from a bunch of dogs. Steve Muldovan said that one of a hundred might be worth considering and one in a thousand might be a keeper.

I have 3 plants from a handful of seeds I collected from a neighbor's pretty plants last summer. I hope one is a keeper. I've been lucky before and I've discarded many plants after 3 years of hoping for beauty.

Let us then consider two other daylilies, this time dark red:

The one on the left was here when I first visited here more than 50 years ago. MIL called it 'my red daylily' and I never found a name for it.

The one on the left is Dominic. The parents of Dominic are Royal Ambassador and Baja, each a lighter red in the photos I've seen.

Many of my beds are seen at a distance, so I like similar colors en masse: reds here, purples there, oranges over by some blue hydrangeas.

This is my first seedling, hardly fashionable by today's standards but a tough plant with lasting flowers in hot sun. I call it garden name of 'Saddle Oxfords' -- a name not found in the database of thousands. 

There is a Daylily Show near here next month. Maybe like Rock Rose I'll find a keeper at their sale. 


  1. Oh how I would love one of those dark red daylilies. Maybe I just found myself a new hobby. But do I have time? I did have a rather puny daylily show up one year and I think it must have been from seed. It just thrilled me to see a new color even though it was nothing to write home about. Your seedling is much more interesting and a bonus that it withstands the hot sun. Good luck with your future seedlings.

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  3. I have 5 daylilies hanging around, so maybe I need to pull together a post on all of them. I would never have the patience for a 3-year wait to find out if I have a keeper or not. Then again, I wonder how much money can be made by ending up with a desirable cultivar -- (I think Saddle Oxfords looks good.)

  4. I love that 'Salmon Sheen' but the ditch lily is pretty impressive to my eyes too. Resilience and persistence count in my book!

  5. They're lovely in the garden, but not so good indoors. The pollen fell off and stained the beige carpet yellow!

  6. They're lovely in the garden, but not so good indoors. The pollen fell off and stained the beige carpet yellow!

  7. It's fun to see daylilies blooming, since ours won't be for awhile. I enjoyed your comparisons. I have a clump of the orange ditch lily in a corner of my vegetable garden, and I do not let it spread beyond the room I have for it.

    Thanks for your comment on my Wildflower Wednesday post. I read it to Ruby, and she smiled when I read her name.

  8. I am very partial to the bicolor daylilies, so 'Saddle Oxfords' is one I'd love to have in my garden. -Jean


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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