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Daylily Watch

July 1, 2015

happy returns many scapesAt this time of year, as the last flowers of Siberian irises fade, I eagerly anticipate the next big event in my garden, the display of daylilies that marks peak summer bloom. As I walk around the garden each day, I peer into daylily foliage, looking for signs of developing flower scapes. And each day I find more. For no good reason other than to reassure myself, I compulsively count them: How many daylilies in the holding area have flower scapes showing? (Fifteen as of today’s count.) How many scapes are there on any individual plant? (More than a dozen on the early rebloomer ‘Happy Returns’ growing on the back slope.)

Some plants, like the old-fashioned orange daylilies Hemerocallis fulva, already have well-developed buds held well above the foliage. Hemerocallis fulva tall scapes
daylily early scapes On other plants, buds are just beginning to form.

Flower scapes form earlier in some flower beds than in others. All but one of the daylilies in the blue and yellow border have scapes showing, while across the walkway in the deck border, I’ve found scapes on about 50% of the daylily plants. In the fence border, which has a preponderance of late-blooming varieties, I found my first flower scapes of the season yesterday.

hemerocallis fulva only scapeSome plants are a source of particular anxiety as I watch and wait. For the second year in a row, only one of the Hemerocallis fulva plants growing along the side of the driveway has formed a flower scape, and that plant has only one scape with only a few buds. I think the growth of trees has left these plants in too much shade for them to bloom well. I’ll need to think about either relocating the daylilies or giving them more light by cutting back the trees.

Barth gold scapeThe plants that are a source of anxiety also bring extra delight when flower buds appear. I was especially happy to see this flower scape on the big bold gold daylily that grows in the circular bed at the turn into my driveway. This part of the flower bed got run over repeatedly by construction vehicles last summer and had to be refurbished in the spring. Although this plant is not producing flower scapes as exuberantly or as early as it normally does, I am relieved to see any flowers at all.
buried treasure hidden scapesThese buds on ‘Buried Treasure,’ a mid-season yellow daylily growing in the blue and yellow border, are another source of delight. I think this variety earned its name from its habit of hiding its flower scapes among the foliage. It always gives me fits of anxiety as I wait for those flower buds to reveal themselves. My anxiety was heightened by the fact that the plant didn’t bloom last year. But this year I will enjoy its flowers.


And then, this morning, I awoke to this, the moment I’ve been anticipating: The first flowers on the early daylilies ‘Happy Returns’ and ‘Boothbay Harbor Gold.’

happy returns first flower Boothbay harbor gold first flower

The daylily season has begun!

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Nell Jean permalink
    July 2, 2015 9:00 am

    Daylilies keep their own timetable. They’re known to even skip a year and then make up for it later. You have lots to look forward to.

    • July 3, 2015 8:55 pm

      Nell Jean, One year one of my plants (Silver Ice) didn’t put in an appearance at all — no foliage, just a hole in the planting area. Fortunately, I procrastinated in replacing it, because the next year it came back as though nothing had ever happened and has been blooming happily ever since.

  2. July 2, 2015 10:50 am

    One of my favorite flowers. Pretty yellows!

    • July 3, 2015 8:55 pm

      One of my favorites, too — and I’m particularly partial to yellows.

  3. July 2, 2015 12:55 pm

    Happy Daylily Season! Mine all have buds, but no flowers yet. The ones that get the most sun, not surprisingly, seem the closes to being ready to pop.

    • July 3, 2015 8:57 pm

      Jason, So far, I only have flowers on those two varieties — but several others look like they may begin to bloom in the next week. Usually, the daylily bloom starts slowly and then accelerates.

  4. July 2, 2015 1:26 pm

    Love those yellow ones! I don’t have daylilies, but I did carry out my own Columbine and Clematis-watch this year. Now I’m on Anemone-watch 🙂

    • July 3, 2015 8:58 pm

      Emily, For some reason, I don’t watch any of my other plants quite as obsessively as I watch the daylilies — although I do sometimes find myself counting how many buds are left on the Platycodon in August.

  5. July 2, 2015 2:14 pm

    Beautiful yellow blooms! I get excited when I see daylily scapes appear too. I have several reblooming varieties which have irregular bloom cycles and I’m delighted when the plants occasionally flower in November or January. I laughed when you mentioned keeping count. I do that with my Agapanthus, at first when the budding stalks appear and again when, like this week, I begin to cut down the legions of scruffy bloomed-out stalks.

    • July 3, 2015 8:59 pm

      Kris, It’s always shocking how quickly I go from counting daylily buds in anticipation of their bloom to the bittersweet count of how many buds remain.

  6. July 3, 2015 6:09 pm

    Hello Jean, you’d be ashamed at how I neglect my daylilies that I inherited. Fear not though, when the turn comes to overhaul the messy, overgrown border they’re in, they’ll get the best, most pampered treatment of their lives as I lift, split, separate and replant them all in fresh rejuvenated soil in full sun – so that they actually flower!

    • July 3, 2015 9:01 pm

      Sunil, One of the happy characteristics of daylilies in my climate is that they are pretty trouble free and thrive on neglect. It helps that I have such sandy soil, since one of the things they don’t like is wet feet.

  7. debsgarden permalink
    July 4, 2015 3:26 pm

    How exciting to see those first blooms! My own day lilies have been in full bloom for a while and will be finishing soon. The summer is passing quickly. Happy July 4th!

    • July 5, 2015 9:06 pm

      Deb, When I was teaching, I always felt as though summer was passing quickly and could feel the fall semester breathing down my neck by early July. Now that I’m retired, the first week of July feels as though summer has barely begun. I guess I think of daylilies as marking true summer in my garden. Over the years, I have added more and more late-blooming varieties to my daylily collection so that I can have daylily blooms well into September, and possibly even into October.

  8. July 5, 2015 6:10 pm

    It seems that daylilies are universal in their bloom time. I might have thought that day lily season would have come and gone here in Georgia, but unlike other bulbs such as daffodils or tubers such as dahlias, they seem to be on the same time as your Northern lilies!

    • July 5, 2015 9:10 pm

      Jayne, This is fascinating. See Deb’s comment above for a contrasting perspective. Do you have late season varieties in your Georgia garden? Although my earliest varieties have begun to bloom, several of my late and very late varieties have not even begun to make flower scapes yet.

  9. July 5, 2015 10:33 pm

    Hi Jean, so you have lots of lilies there too. I hope all of those buds will turn out well without bad weather. Thanks for dropping by my site.

    • July 6, 2015 8:27 pm

      Andrea, These are not true lilies, but cousins in the lily family. I do have a few true lilies in my garden, and they will also begin to bloom soon. It’s unusual for anything to harm the buds on the daylilies once they form (unless deer eat them, which doesn’t usually happen in my garden). The true lilies are more difficult because they are subject to damage from the red lily beetle.

  10. July 5, 2015 11:00 pm

    My day lilies are starting to pop here in West Michigan.

    • July 6, 2015 8:29 pm

      Jean, We’re having a couple of days of relatively warm weather (80s), so I’m hoping that will get them going. I have several varieties that look like they’re about ready to start blooming.

  11. July 7, 2015 10:55 am

    Hello Jean, I’m new to your website and find this post very interesting. Fairly new to growing day lilies myself, I’m just starting to appreciate them and it seems to me that these beautiful plants are often undervalued in the UK. My grassy garden is not very formal, and low maintenance is key for me but I find day lilies fit right in and (mostly!) just get on with it. Right now I see some of the fancier ones I’ve selected have a bit of gall midge. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • July 7, 2015 11:24 am

      Hi Kate, Welcome to Jean’s Garden. I have never experienced any pests or diseases on my daylilies, but I did a search on your problem and found this information from the British Columbia Department of Agriculture: Gall midge seems similar to the problem I have with iris budfly in my own garden, and the key to controlling both seems to be to remove the affected buds and destroy them immediately. I hope this helps.

      • July 7, 2015 11:32 am

        Thanks for the swift advice, most helpful. I shall go straight out and remove the distorted buds. I’ll destroy them with relish!

  12. July 8, 2015 6:30 pm

    Happy Returns is an early bloomer here and I love the yellow….I have many that are being swallowed by my garden that has turned wild…i need to relocate them in a garden together more I think!

    • July 10, 2015 8:17 pm

      Donna, ‘Happy Returns’ is a favorite of mine, and it is a reliable rebloomer for me. I think of it as the energizer bunny of daylilies — it just keeps going and going.

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