CARING for DAYLILIES

 
    Since daylilies can be planted any time of year the soil can be worked, you should plant your daylilies as soon as it is possible after arrival. Daylilies have been known, having been imprisoned in shipping packages for a fortnight without light and water, to flourish after being freed and returned to welcoming soil but it is always best to get your daylilies reacquainted with soil as quickly as you can. Since daylilies do not mind being transplanted, even putting the newly arrived plants into pots with soil until proper placement within the garden can be managed, is an acceptable solution to establishing your new daylily plants. Conventional wisdom holds that daylilies planted in warm soil with time to settle in before protracted cold arrives will enjoy the most comfortable transition.
 
     Daylilies are tough and resilient perennial plants but they do not qualify as shade loving enthusiasts. They should be planted in areas of the garden which see at least 4 hours of direct daylight. It is important when planting to keep the crown of the plant exactly level with the top of the ground and to press the soil firmly in place. Also, daylilies are not fussy about soil PH but do respond to having a healthy amount of compost or seasoned muck worked well into their new homes before planting.
 
     Once planted you can mulch around daylilies to control weeds and balance the moisture in the soil but it is not necessary to do so to grow vigorous plants. Some daylily growers suggest fertilising several times during the season to maximise growth but we have found over the many years of raising daylilies that if a good mix of compost or muck is used initially to bolster the soil a daylily clump will feed slowly and thrive on this food supply for years. If maternal instincts insist on some regular seasonal feeding, a seaweed extract formula can be used. But beware of using high nitrogen fertilisers for such treatment can cause daylilies to bulk out in a profusion of greenery without producing a balance of flower stems and blossoms.
 
     Our usual advice upon planting or transplanting daylilies is to keep the plants moist until the first good soaking rain. Then they should be off and running on their own not requiring regular watering unless or until rare and sustained periods of dryness parch any and all garden plots. Daylilies can be flattered by modest and consistent moisture in the soil but they do not, unlike say the Siberian Iris, relish being asked to sit in wet areas.
 
     Generally, pests pose no dire threat to daylilies. A rust which has plagued some daylilies grown in the American South, where heat and humidity abound in the summers, seems not to be a concern in the very different British climate. Perhaps, the greatest adversary of the daylily as it seeks to earn its place in British gardens is that persistent nemesis of many UK gardeners, the indefatigable slug. If the usual pre-emptive action is taken against slugs, they can successfully be kept from munching on daylily leaves. The truth is the daylily is not a sensitive beauty requiring studious maintenance.
 
     There remains very divided opinion among long time daylily growers whether picking off spent blossoms or seed pods improves the vigor of the individual plants. The same lack of consensus exists around the question of whether to cut back the foliage once the daylily clump has exhausted its blossoms. Our experience is that decisions need only to be taken on aesthetic grounds for we have not found that such tidying effects the health of the plant at all.
 
     Daylily plants can be left for a good number of years, often five or more, before digging and dividing is warranted. Once a daylily clump begins to reduce the number of flower stems against the girth of the plant's jungle of green leaves, it is time to divide the clump into a smaller number of plants to spread throughout the garden.
 
     Since daylilies are difficult to maim or destroy, an individual plant can be expected with only a modicum of attention to steadily grow in size and produce an ever expanding number of stems and blossoms over the years. Given a chance daylilies can prove themselves to be stalwart performers in any garden worthy of its gardener's affections.