March 25, 2009

Time After Time: Daylily Joan Senior

Gardeners quickly learn that one of the easiest perennials to grow is a daylily. The adaptable daylily (hemerocallis) grows in a variety of soil and sun conditions. I've grown them in partial shade to full sun in moist soil and average soil. Most daylilies are suitable for zones 3-9.

When it comes to color, there are pink, red, purple, yellow, white and orange... and many hues and shades for variation. The lily bloom can be different shapes. There are short, medium and tall daylilies. With a bit of timing, you can have daylilies in bloom throughout the summer.

What makes a daylily rank high with me? Repeat blooms on the same plant. Stella d'Oro (which I have) is the most commonly grown for repeat blooms, but the gold color makes it a bit more difficult to use with some color schemes. Stella works best with deep purple. 'Happy Returns' (which I have) is a softer yellow and blooms off and on all summer long.

My favorite reblooming cultivar has been around since the late 1970s, but it was the 1990s before 'Joan Senior' was on my radar. This 25-30 inch diploid is getting established in my cottage garden. By getting established, I mean that it has been growing for two years and will be ready to divide next year to create more daylilies.

Joan is a creamy white with a yellow throat. I decided to echo the yellow throat by planting companions of 'Happy Returns' and the shasta daisy 'Broadway Lights' with Joan.Taking the economical approach, I bought a few of each of these plants and must have a bit of patience until I grow enough to divide and group for impact.

Right now is the time to divide daylilies. Joan, Happy and Stella are looking all perky and green in my garden. The foliage was nipped a bit by rabbits recently, but they tend to leave the plants alone once spring arrives. My daylilies have already outgrown the nips. I grow the daylilies inside the cottage garden because there are deer outside fence. Although I see swaths of Stella growing in roadside plantings, I know that the deer will pick the blooms in my outer gardens. I've resisted the urge to tempt the deer.

With over 60,000 distinct varieties, there is probably a daylily for every gardener!

Story and photos by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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