For color and interest all summer long, daylilies are hard to beat.
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Although the best planting times are spring and fall, daylilies can be planted anytime except in the dead of winter. If you spot a hole in your July border that cries out for greenery and flowers, plant—or transplant—a daylily. It it’s a scorcher of a day, be kind and give it plenty of water, maybe even a newspaper parasol. But you don’t have to worry about established plants. They can cope even with prolonged drought. Feed your plants generously in early spring for fast growth and plentiful flowers—bone meals or other organic fertilizers, or low-nitrogen chemical fertilizer (5-10-10) is fine. (Too much nitrogen is said to muddy the reds and weaken the leaves.) Just dig the fertilizer in under the leaves around the plant, and water it in. A small plant with three or four rhizomes will be a big one in one season. In three years, plants grouped together will form a clump dense enough to keep out weeds. And daylilies are easy to divide. Early spring or fall is best. Just make sure to take husky divisions with good roots so you have a decent-sized new plant.
After the lemon lilies in May, you can have daylilies in constant bloom from late June through late September. You can stagger them in height from 12 inches to 7 feet, and in size of blossom from 2 to 6 inches—maybe even bigger. As for color, ah! From creamy yellow to burnished gold, pale peach to flame, shell-pink to deep burgundy, muted terra-cotta to fiery brick, mauve to rich purple, even some near pure reds. Additionally, there are knock-your-socks-off bicolors in bold color contrasts, and in delicate pastel blends. Petals often appear to be dusted with diamonds. Some clossoms have exquisite green hearts. Even the shapes vary. Although the classic daylily form is full- to bell-shaped, blossoms today come frilled, ruffled, crimped, curved, recurved, and even lacy.
Moving from the front of the border to the rear, I’m going to start with some of my favorite dwarfs and other low-growing varieties and then build up to the tall types. A true dwarf, Eenie Weenie is only 12 inches high when in bloom, a lovely light yellow with petals that curve back slightly. It blooms early to midsummer, its flowers last well into the evening, and it thrives in hot, dry places. If you’re creating a whole bed of daylilies, this is the ideal plant for the front edging. And, of course, it works up front is a mixed border, too.