Title: Daylilies in Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00084533/00001
 Material Information
Title: Daylilies in Florida
Series Title: Daylilies in Florida
Alternate Title: Circular 88 ; Florida Agricultural Extension Service
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Watkins, John V.
Publisher: Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: March 1949
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Bibliographic ID: UF00084533
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 214329012

Full Text

March, 1949


Associate Professor of Horticulture, University of Florida

Fig. 1.-Daylilies are perennials that succeed very well and are quite
dependable for summer flowers.


Circular 88

No other herbaceous perennials are so well adapted to Florida
gardens as are daylilies. Their hardiness, long blooming period,
brilliant coloring and freedom from pests and diseases make them
indispensable for this section. There is certainly great comfort
to be found in the fact that here is a group of plants that is not
in constant need of dusting, spraying and replacement. Many old
plantings are known where daylilies have bloomed profusely
each season for a decade or more without any care whatsoever,
save for one spring feeding and an occasional soaking during
periods of drought.
The genus Hemerocallis is a cosmopolitan one that thrives in
the muck of the Everglades, the oolitic rock of the peninsula's
tip, the light sands of central Florida and on the red clay hills of
the western part of the state. Some of the most dependable of
the older yellow types were developed in England, a land that
has a climate quite different from our own.
Florida-wide awareness of this excellent hardy perennial dates
back but two decades. True, the tawny roadside daylily (EU-
ROPA of Stout) and one or two old-fashioned yellows arrived
with the first settlers, but it was not until the early thirties that
daylily hybrids began to find their way into Florida gardens.
Trained horticulturists, during summer holidays, observed the
progress that was being made in the breeding plots of Northern
hybridizers, and to these men should go credit for bringing these
plants to the attention of Florida gardeners. They arranged for
the introduction of extensive collections and then had these plants
set in demonstration gardens which were visited by ever-increas-
ing numbers of home owners.
By the mid-thirties several Floridians were engaged in selec-
tive breeding of Hemerocallis. From the hands of these men
came many worth while daylilies. Some are widely distributed
garden favorites, others are rare collector's items, elusive and
hard to get, while some Florida originations have been highly
rated by writers in garden magazines of national circulation.
Selective breeding has been in progress in our state for less
than two decades, yet much has been accomplished. The day-
lilies of today show great improvement over favorites of former
years. Yet it must be admitted that as a garden plant, Hemero-
callis is far from perfect. The ease with which the plant may be
grown from seeds and the multitudinous forms which appear in

each succeeding generation indicate that much can be done in the
refinement of this marvelous group of plants.
While the fancier is concerned with the perfection of detail
of the individual blossom, by far the majority of home owners
are interested in garden aspects. Preferred by these people are
strong, upstanding evergreen daylilies with branched stems that
make striking, bright color masses. Already available are many
inexpensive garden types that will fill these requirements.
Perhaps the chief characteristic that has endeared the daylily
to Florida gardeners is its complete adaptability to our climate.
The tenacious, rope-like roots that penetate through an unusually
large mass of soil, the ability of these roots to store water against
unfavorable seasons, their acceptance of high soil temperatures
and open, well aerated sand or heavy, water retentive peat are
in large part responsible for the success of this garden favorite.
While the below-ground structures have tenacity and long life,
the crisp green foliage is well known for its freedom from dis-
eases and insect pests. Actually, spraying and dusting can be
completely forgotten in the Hemerocallis section of one's Florida
garden. In some sections farther north, where hot, dry weather
occurs in early summer, thrips do a certain amount of damage to
tender scapes and unopened buds. Generally speaking, flower
thrips are seldom injurious to Hemerocallis in Florida gardens.
It is not to be inferred that daylilies are without fault. Like
all things that live and grow, they have their shortcomings. The
predominant criticism is that daylily blossoms last but a single
day. It is true that the blossoms are notably ephemeral, yet a
well grown clump will have a half dozen husky scapes, each of
which will produce a freshly opened bud each morning for a
month or more. Another fault is that the flower pigments are
quickly burned out by the intense Florida sun. The deep-hued
reds and the flowers that are of the color approaching "mulberry
fruit" will fade noticeably on a clear day in May. By ever select-
ing for earliness and by planting deep-hued varieties in broken,
shifting shade, it is possible to eliminate part of our trouble here.
It is pretty generally agreed among advanced fanciers that,
because of the great diversity of climate and soil over the United
States, sectional lists of Hemerocallis will eventually be devel-
oped. Actually there is a trend in this direction already.
Hardiness is closely tied up with continuous growth. Seed-
lings which will be fully hardy in Lowell, Massachusetts, must
shed their leaves and become fully dormant early in the autumn.

We who garden in Florida-have come to appreciate the evergreen
types as most valuable because of their year-around greenness.
Most of the time, even when not in bloom, daylilies of continuous
growth have attractive foliage which makes good strong masses
of green in the garden picture. Twelve months in the year a
clump of Hemerocallis aurantiaca is an integral part of the gar-
den scene.
While we admire the evergreen varieties as being of greatest
usefulness to us here in Florida, we must not overlook the sur-
prise element, the seasonal appearance of spring-fresh foliage
that the deciduous types send up in April. Many clones of this
group, particularly the older ones, are well known for their
superlatively attractive blossoms. HYPERION, OPHIR, ROYAL
RUBY and BLACK FALCON are but a few of the outstanding
kinds that, though absent from the garden picture from Novem-
ber until April, make stunning contributions when their blos-
soms do appear.
Southern hybridizers are well aware of the value of continu-
ous growth, and today all of the most recent introductions from
Florida have attractive evergreen foliage.
Over much of Florida the daylily season opens early in March
with the flowering of the early yellows, reaches its climax in
April and extends through May and well into June. Some of
the varieties which are first to bloom (AJAX and SEMPER-
FLORENS) are excellent evergreen types that were originated in
Europe during the last century. Others apparently have arisen
through garden selection in several different localities. A case in
point is the clone which this writer calls GAINESVILLE EARLY,
for want of a better name. Apparently this clone is not identical
with any in the trade, and it is my guess that it arose as a single
seedling in a Gainesville garden. Because of its outstanding quali-
ties, this very early, prolific daylily has been widely disseminated
in this section. Without vital statistics, without benefit of a tech-
nical description published in a recognized horticultural journal,
without a prominent nursery to back its sales, this plant arose,
through sheer merit, to a place of undeniable prominence. Un-
questionably it is worthy of a cherished place in our gardens.
Most of the dark-colored Hemerocallis are mid-season and the
creation of reds, pinks and purples that will bloom in March is
receiving much attention now. That a long step in this direction
has already been made is attested by the fact that a handsome
large maroon from central Florida flowers habitually in March
and an entire race that bears flowers of mulberry fruit starts to
bloom shortly thereafter.
Recurrent blooming is quite marked in certain varieties, both
old and new. After the spring bloom the plants have a short rest
period. Then, when the rains start, they grow again and from
this second flush some types produce flowers in June and July.
True, the blossoms may not be as large, the colors may be less

striking than those of early springtime, but nevertheless, blooms
from these hardy perennials have considerable garden value
during mid-summer.
In northern Florida daylilies will bloom about two months
ahead of dates published in Northern catalogs. As might be ex-
pected, the sequence of flowering is just the same, although per-
formance charts will never be identical because many of the
Northern favorites are being superseded by new home-bred
seedlings. In western Florida the dates will be a week or two
behind those for Gainesville, while toward the tip of the penin-
sula all types will bloom a couple of weeks or even a month
earlier. By carefully compiling one's varietal list, these hardy
perennials can be enjoyed for a period of some three months or
even longer.
Perhaps you havenoticed that new plants from the North
bloom unusually early the first season. Explanation of this phe-
nomenon might be as follows: Research has shown that flower
spikes are differentiated in late summer or autumn. Early frosts
at the Northern nursery induced complete dormancy before dig-
ging and then the cold-conditioned plants were ready to grow
and flower much ahead of schedule when they were subjected to
the warm weather and adequate moisture in your Southern gar-
den. In a normal Florida year comparable chilling, if it occurs
at all, will come in January or February, thus assuring good blos-
sems at the regular time in April or May. It must be pointed out
that chilling is not required by our modern evergreen Southern-
bred types.
Prevailing temperatures in January and February will influ-
ence the daylily season. A mild, almost frost-free winter will
not necessarily assure early bloom. Cool, overcast weather means
cold soil and, therefore, late blooming. Frost in January followed
by warm, moist weather in February can make for early flower-
ing. Dry weather in February and March will result in slow
growth, weak scapes and late flowering.
No research has been reported on the influence of day length
upon flowering in Hemerocallis. It is quite possible that this en-
vironmental factor, together with mean temperatures and rain-
fall, might influence the time of flowering of some, or possibly
all, varieties.
Although many of us have tried to create perennial borders
like those we see during summer vacations in the North, after
bitter experiences, we must admit that this kind of gardening is
not for us here in Florida. Climate, soil, the rapidity with which
grasses and weeds grow, and the types of plants that are at home
here do not lend themselves to the recreation of the old-fashioned
perennial border. Let us acknowledge this situation and think,
rather, in terms of tropical foliage, long-season effects and lush
evergreen shrubberies highlighted by spots of warm color for

Daylilies are most effective when they are grown in clumps of
three or more plants in the bays of informal shrubbery borders.
While a field of Hemerocallis, such as one views at plant breed-
ing stations, is a colorful, exciting scene, the effect is unrestful
and such a tapestry of mixed types and colors cannot be con-
sidered a garden picture. Nor yet can a lone plant standing by
itself make a good garden composition. Spotting a plant here,
another there is usually not successful with most perennials and
especially with daylilies, so clump or drift planting is thought
to be best.
If colors are grouped separately in these drifts, perhaps the
best effects will be attained. Thus, daylilies become harmonious
color notes of accent in front of the deep green of the permanent
shrubbery that forms the backdrop of the garden. In this meth-
od of planting the forms of order known as unity, harmony,
rhythm and sequence will be served and your garden scheme
will be greatly benefitted.
Lemon-yellow TARUGA might start the planting. In the next
bay could come a large clump of early-flowering, sprightly
BARONET; next a clump of deciduous HYPERION could be de-
pended upon for mid-season yellow and this could be followed
by the bright cardinal red of evergreen KANAPAHA.
A telling way to use yellow daylilies is to combine them with
shrubs that bloom coincidently in complementary colors. Color
gardening is subtle, elusive and difficult to do well, it is true,
but simple combinations in complementary colors, such as
Hemerocallis GOLDEN BELL near blue plumbago or purple
violas, are effective and universally popular.
In Florida, daylilies will hold their color better if they are
grown with afternoon shade. The plants will thrive and their
flowers will be of deeper hues if they grow on the east or north
side of a fence, building or shrub border, or under high, broken
pine shade. The pale lemon sorts, the heavily pigmented reds
and purples, the light pastel pinks and buffs will show typical
blossoms only when they are given partial protection from the
enervating rays of the early sun.
Most effective are the displays in which 50 or more plants
grow together, yet these dramatic beds are possible only to those
who have been gardening with daylilies for some years. Perhaps
at the outset, two or three generous beds could be made up of the
older, less expensive varieties, to be replaced later with choicer
kinds when it has been possible to work up good stocks.
To edge these drifts, one might employ some of the new
dwarf strains that have been developed here in Florida for this
purpose, or he might decide upon annuals in harmonious colors
for the finishing touch.
When herbaceous plants are grown in front of shrubs, a root
restrainer is highly recommended. This simply means the in-
stallation of metal roofing vertically in front of the woody plants,

so that the roots will be prevented from competing with the less
robust herbaceous things. After the metal restrainer has been
installed, the bed should be enriched by the addition of rotted
cow manure, compost or peat to which has been added a sprin-
kling of balanced commercial fertilizer. While it is true that day-
lilies can endure soils in which many plants would perish, beds
are made up for three year's growth, and for this reason they
should be well supplied with materials which release plant nu-
trients slowly over a long period. Even though the Florida cli-
mate is to the liking of daylilies, many soils are light sands
through which plant nutrients leach at an alarming rate. It is
strongly urged that manure, compost or peat be used in liberal
amounts in preparing beds for Hemerocallis plants.
Daylilies may be transplanted at any time, but for best results
divide the clumps after flowering. In June or July the plants
enjoy a short rest and this is an excellent time to expand your
Hemerocallis section. During warm summer weather, when rains
are frequent, the roots will re-establish themselves very quickly
and new foliage will be produced at once. If, for any reason, post-
flowering transplanting is not feasible, then the next best time
to do this work is in early winter. If you will dig the clumps and
transplant the divisions to rich soil in November and December
they will be well established before flowering time the following
Lift the heavy clumps and shake off the dirt and it will be
apparent that the clump will divide into units or small plants all
having roots, stems, leaves and buds. In gardening parlance,
these are called divisions. Each is carefully separated from the
matted clump and placed in moist burlap as protection against
drying sun and wind. If necessary, these plants-can be held in
this moist burlap or in damp peat for a day or two until the beds
have been thoroughly prepared. When you are ready to plant,
have a companion make shovel slits every 12 inches each way in
the bed, and you follow just behind, thrusting the roots deep
into these holes so that they assume the same relative positions
which they held before digging. Try to plant at the same level,
using as your depth gauge the bleached soil line that each fan
of leaves shows. You might plant slightly deeper but daylilies,
like most plants, must not be planted less deeply than they grew
formerly. When each drift is planted, tramp on each side of each
plant so as to firm the soil and then soak the entire bed. Be sure
that you label the group properly with a metal marker and, for
extra assurance, designate it clearly on your garden map. Map-
ping is by all odds the best means of keeping your plant names
straight, as labels may be lost or become illegible.
Throughout the Deep South much benefit is to be gained from
the use of mulch, so it is suggested that the daylily beds be
dressed with a blanket of leaves, compost, peat or cow manure
shortly after planting.


AJAX yellow
AUREOLE yellow
MODESTY yellow
WINSOME yellow
MIKADO yellow-mahogany eye zone
DUNCAN maroon red
BARONET Brazil red
RADIANT orange
ZOUAVE yellow-mahogany eye zone
MARCELLE fulvous orange

FLORHAM yellow
ALLAPATAH maroon red
B. H. FARR grenadine pink
KANAPAHA cardinal red
SACHEM wine red
PATRICIA lime yellow
WELAKA mandarin orange

SWAN cavalry yellow
HYPERION lime yellow
CYPRIANA fulvous red
CABELLERO bicolored
MIKADO (recurring)


Fig. 2.-Flowering sequence of Hemerocallis in Florida gardens.

(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
University of Florida, Florida State University and United States Department of
Agriculture, cooperating. H. G. Clayton, Director.

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