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The onset of summer brings a plethora of colors to the perennial garden bed. A few summer favorites stand out, like red roses, purple catmint, and yellow coreopsis. Perhaps no other perennial has as many diverse color selections as that of Hemerocallis, or daylily. Many people are familiar with the common orange “ditch lilies” or yellow “Stella d’oro,” These two well known daylilies are just the beginning of the rainbow for the home gardener. Almost any color one can imagine can be found in this easy care perennial. From pastel pinks and yellows to vibrant reds and purples, the home owner has an ever expanding palette. With more than 35,000 registered daylily cultivars, there are sure to be a few you might find suitable for your garden.

The word, Hemerocallis, stemming from two Greek words, hemera (day) and kallos (beauty), actually means “beauty for a day.” The flowers last for just a day, although many flower buds are present on each stalk (or scape) so the plant has a longer bloom time. Depending on the daylily cultivar there can be 10 to 100 buds on a mature plant.

Because they are adaptable to most soil conditions, thrive with little care, generally pest and disease free, and long lived, daylilies can be described as the perfect perennial. Before planting, the soil should be aerated and fertile. Due to the heavy clay soil in central Ohio, a good blend of compost would be recommended to add to the soil before planting a clump of daylilies. Some pests (besides deer eating the buds) include aphids, spider mites, thrips, slugs and snails. These pests generally pose little threat to daylilies and damage is usually insignificant. Diseases might include daylily rust, leaf streak, or crown rot. Having proper gardening practices and good environmental conditions plays an important role in avoiding these diseases. Daylilies perform best in full sun but will tolerate some shade if at least six hours of sun is provided. The light pastel colors benefit from full sun to bring out their soft hues while the darker purples and reds like a little afternoon shade because they don’t withstand the heat like the pastel lilies. Due to the longevity and quick multiplication of the plant, the clump can be easily divided and passed along for others to enjoy.

Bloom time can be extended in a garden from early June to early September by utilizing several different cultivars. Different heights of flower stalks range from small (six to 24 inches) to large (over 36 inches) will add variety to the garden bed. The flowers themselves are what many find most intriguing. Some are circular, triangular, flat, star shaped, trumpet and spider-like. These shapes lead to a range of flowers that can be as small as plum and large as a grapefruit.

The foliage or leaves of a daylily plant can vary as well. Some cultivars have bluish leaves, while others have green to yellow cast. Several cultivars have variegated foliage, meaning the leaves are both green and white. The leaves are slender and long, best described as grass-like.

Daylilies can be purchased at local garden centers, through the Internet, display gardens and traded with friends. Prices can range anywhere from $3 to $500. It’s those newest and highly sought after ones that command top dollar! Whether you are a novice gardener or a master gardener your home deserves a “beauty for a day!” Mark you calendars for July 30 and 31 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds for the annual Delaware County OSU Extension Master Gardener Association plant sale and you will be sure to find several different varieties of daylilies!

Soil testing can boost garden yield and quality, and improve your lawn and landscape.

Soil testing is an excellent measure of soil fertility. It is a very inexpensive way of maintaining good plant health and maximum plant productivity. The standard soil test provides the status of phosphorous (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), pH, cation exchange capacity, lime requirement index and base saturation. Additional tests are also available for iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), soluble salts and nitrates.

Cost is $20 and you can read more on taking soil samples on our OSU factsheet: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/pdf/1132.pdf or call our office: 740-833-2030.

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