I have planted quite a few daylilies (hemerocallis) this year. Apart from being lovely flowers they are good plants. Their foliage is not awful, making fountains of elegant leaves and they are fairly tough. They cope well with clay and will grow in sun or part shade. Small cultivars are good for pots (in loam-based compost) and they bloom for a long time. The flowers vary from about 6cm across to 20cm or more and the colour range is wide, from almost (but not quite) white through yellow and orange to red, pink and purple. Breeders have been creating ever more diverse colour combinations and patterns. Although I have been quite eclectic in my selection I have chosen with an emphasis on those that are fragrant (though they don’t smell amazingly on the whole) and with simple flowers shapes. Although they are amazing achievements of breeding, those with heavily ruffled flowers, like ‘Magic Amethyst’ above, do not always open well in cool weather. I think you can take some of the descriptions of violet and amethyst with a pinch of salt too – as you can see!
My plants are young so not all have flowered and those that have only have short scapes with far fewer buds than they should. But it is a taste of things to come.
Daylilies are generally free from problems but the most serious is gall midge, a nasty pest that lays eggs in the flower buds. The buds become swollen as the grubs develop and do not open. It is for this reason that it is wise to buy new daylilies as bare-root plants without flowers – it eliminates the chance of buying in the pest.
‘Wild Horses’ (1999) is a very popular cultivar and the flowers, for my taste, are both bold and attractive, 18cm across. Daylilies can be evergreen, keeping at least some foliage in winter, or deciduous. This is evergreen. And they can be diploid, having the usual set of chromosomes or tetraploid, having double the usual. Tetraploids tend to have bigger leaves and flowers, of tougher texture and colours can be more intense. This is tetraploid. And it is also a rebloomer, meaning it produces a few scapes after the main flush, if growing well. As my plant is a single fan at present I am content with the one scape.
‘El Desperado’ (1991) has similar colouring, though is a brighter yellow with a more rounded flower shape, 13cm across. It is winter dormant and tetraploid.
‘Heavenly Mr Twister’ (2004) is a taller plant with flowers 20cm across. It is a spider daylily with long, narrow tepals. These only really work when the scape is tall enough to lift the flowers above the leaves and mine is very short this year so hardly an elegant thing. I find these curious rather than beautiful but have planted several so we will see how they get on. Winter dormant and diploid.
‘Summer Star’ (1999) has flowers 20cm across and they should be a but more ‘crisped’ along the tepal edges than mine shows. But already I like the size and colour of the flowers. It is winter dormant and diploid.
This one seems not to be registered so the name may not be right but I like it for the classic, unfussy form and the colour. It has also proved to be a good grower with decent growth and flowers in its first season.