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Extending the Daylily Season

August 30, 2009

This weekend the last two buds opened on my Orange Bounty daylily — a bittersweet occasion, because the glowing flowers on this plant always lift my spirits, but these last buds represent the end of the daylily season in my Maine garden.  For most of the past fifteen years, I have driven away from this garden while Orange Bounty was still in bloom, returning to Pennsylvania for the beginning of the school year. But as I look toward my retirement from teaching in a few years and begin to transition toward living full-time in Maine, I’m realizing that I need to extend the daylily season in my garden. And to do that, I need to plant some of the daylilies listed in the catalogs as “very late.”

Some late-blooming daylilies are actually rebloomers, plants that flower early in the season, but then send up new flower scapes either continuously orLate season bloom of Boothbay Harbor Gold. Photo credit: Jean Potuchek repeatedly throughout the season. The most popular daylily in the United States, ‘Stella de Oro,’ falls into this category. Another popular rebloomer is ‘Happy Returns;’ I refer to this plant, with its charming yellow flowers, as the “energizer bunny” of daylilies — because it just keeps going and going until frost. I already have Happy Returns growing in my garden, on the back slope. I also have a less well-known rebloomer, ‘Boothbay Harbor Gold,’ in the blue and yellow border. But, although these daylilies continue to bloom after the last flowers of Orange Bounty are spent, they are diminutive plants that don’t provide the kind of dramatic presence in the garden that  larger flowers do. For that, I need some of the more substantial very late daylilies.

There are two particular plants that I have in mind to extend the daylily season in my Maine garden, ‘Autumn Minaret’ and ‘Sandra Elizabeth.’ Both of these are flowers that I am already growing in my small garden in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (a garden that I normally leave in May and don’t see again until late August). Autumn Minaret was an early daylily hybrid (introduced by the famed daylily hybridizer Dr.  Arlow Burdette Stout in 1951), and it features delicate yellow flowers with a pink/orange blush on long slender scapes. This is a very vigorous plant that produces many scapes; the one I bought from Diane Kendig at Perfect Perennials in Pennsylvania already had nine flower scapes on it when I brought it home, and it had many more the following year. What is most distinctive about Autumn Minaret (besides its late bloom time) is that the flower scapes are more than 5 feet tall. And because these scapes are so slender, they practically disappear, giving the effect of flowers floating far above the plant’s foliage. Sandra Elizabeth is a more recent hybrid (1983) with big substantial yellow flowers on sturdy scapes. In my Gettysburg garden, this plant makes a dramatic statement well into October.

My plan is to plant both these flowers in the new fence garden, growing them along with another rebloomer, ‘Final Touch,’ and a variety of other late-blooming plants. The idea is to make this flower bed the focal point of my garden in August and September. Check back next year about this time to see how the new late-blooming garden is working out.

If you are looking for very late daylilies for your own garden, here are some suggestions: First, visit daylily growers and gardens. I found Autumn Minaret and Sandra Elizabeth by visiting a daylily nursery in September and seeing what was in bloom. The American Hemerocallis Society website maintains lists of both daylily sources and daylily display gardens, organized by geographical region. Unfortunately, the American Hemerocallis Society database does not allow you to search by plant characteristics, but some daylily growers (e.g., Tranquil Lake) list cultivars by bloom time and some (e.g., R. Seawright Gardens) have search features that allow you to search for late bloomers. The disadvantage of using the daylily grower websites is that they list only the plants that they grow and sell. A more expansive list is available at the Dave’s Garden website, and their ‘advanced search’ feature (only available to those with a paid subscription) allows you to search by plant characteristics. However you find them, I think that the very late daylilies are well worth considering.
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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    October 4, 2017 10:54 am

    Can you trim back the stalk of the last flower on the plant to allow it
    to throw another stalk to extend the flower production during the end
    of the season? Answer generally to the question since I will access the
    site often for its valuable information and sources.

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