Daylily Perennials

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Well-suited to many garden designs, especially cottage style, daylily perennials are a standby for any number of good reasons. They thrive in almost any conditions, are durable, spread rapidly, and reward you with a wealth of color. With only minimal care, they will continue to bloom year after year. Propagated most often by simple division, daylily perennials put up with a great deal of abuse.

Their abundant foliage, which varies from a medium to a deep green, arises from a strong-stemmed base like swords that bend backwards gracefully. Blooms vary widely in color across yellows and reds and oranges to whites and creams. Variegation in daylily perennials is far from uncommon.

Cultivated daylilies include the very handsome and fragrant Pardon Me, an 18-inch tall flower with a small and dramatic cranberry flower with a yellow throat. The equally fragrant Lemon (Hemerocolis flava), about two or three feet high, does especially well in gardens. Happy Returns is an especially pale yellow daylily that grows only 18 inches, reblooms readily, and prefers a strong sun.

The Merits of Daylily Perennials

Native to the Far East, daylilies were valued for medicinal uses and food. The first in the United States were yellow and tawny. Their wild descendant, the orange tiger lily, is often seen in fields and along roadsides. A hardy plant, the daylily is often used in mass plantings to help prevent erosion.

I once planted, for a penny each, 200 orange tiger lilies on a river bank off the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The bank had been crumbling into the river for some time. It rose almost perpendicular 50 feet from the shore to the woods above. More than (whew!) 30 years later, both it and the daylilies (an orange swath across the upper half of the bank) are there today.

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