All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A by Pernell Gerver

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"Growing the Many Types of Daylilies"

Summer in the perennial garden means flowers - lots of flowers. A perennial that provides an abundance of flowers in a range of colors is daylily. It's one of the most versatile and tough perennials. It grows happily in just about any soil, can withstand periods of drought, and thrives in full sun, but does equally well in part shade. It's one of the most popular perennials because of its adaptability and wide range of flower colors. There are over 45,000 named varieties of daylily with flower colors that include white, red, purple, lavender, yellow, orange, red, burgundy, salmon, pink, and rose along with bicolors and blends.

Daylily flowers are composed of three petals and three sepals, arranged in a circular shape. The flowers are carried on long, slender flower stalks called scapes.




"Growing the Many Types of Daylilies" Workshop and Plant and Gardening Products Sale


Thursday, July 26, 7 p.m., Kiley Middle School auditorium, 180 Cooley Street, Springfield

Saturday, July 28, 10 a.m., Westfield Woman's Club auditorium, 28 Court Street, Westfield

Saturday, July 28, 3 p.m., Historic Northampton Museum Shepherd Barn, behind 66 Bridge Street, Northampton


Free and open to the public

For more info.:

Click here to read Pernell Gerver's Gardening Workshop Series schedule and to get directions from your location to any of the locations listed above.

Flower shapes include flaring, trumpet, recurved, circular, double, star, and spider. Flaring flowers open wide and have a flat appearance around the edges. Trumpet flowers have a classic lily shape. Recurved flowers flare out wide at the edge, then curve backward. The petals and sepals of circular flowers have a rounded shape and overlap to form a nearly-perfect circle. Double flowers have extra flower parts that create blooms that range from only barely double to fully double. Star flowers have long, pointed petals and sepals that are wide at the center then taper to the tip. They have wide spaces between them, forming a flower that resembles a star. Spider flowers have very narrow petals and sepals that are often twisted.

In addition to the varying shapes, there are also many different color patterns in daylily flowers. Flowers with only one color are referred to as self. Both the petals and sepals are the same color, although the throat can be a different color. The color pattern of flowers with a combination of two different colors on both the petals and sepals is called blend. When there are several different colors on the petals and sepals, the color pattern is considered polychrome. Bitone is the color pattern of flowers with petals and sepals that have two different shades of the same color. Petals are usually the darker shade. A bicolor pattern results when the petals and sepals are two different colors. The sepals are the lighter color. A reverse bicolor pattern occurs when the sepals are the darker of the two colors.

Along with the various color patterns, many daylily flowers have a ring of color around the inside of the flower. This is called a band, eyezone, halo, or watermark, depending on how it appears on the flower. A band is a different or darker color that occurs only on the petals where they meet in the center of the flower. Daylily flowers with an eyezone have a ring of a different or darker color on both the petals and sepals in the center of the flower. A halo is a barely-visible band of color on the petals that forms a thin ring around the center of the flower. A watermark is a band-like marking on the petals of a very faint color that gives the appearance of a watermark on the flower. Other flower markings that can appear on the petals and sepals include a stripe down the center, petals or sepals that are tipped with a darker color, as well as spotted varieties. Some varieties also appear "diamond dusted." The petals shimmer in the sunlight as if covered with diamond dust. The dusting is either silver or golden.

Each individual daylily flower lasts for only a day, but flowers are produced over a long season of bloom. Most daylily varieties have a bloom period of two to four weeks beginning in midsummer, but there are many cultivars with longer bloom periods as well as varieties that begin blooming earlier in the season. 'Stella de Oro' is one of the longest-blooming daylily varieties. It begins blooming in early summer and can continue nearly all season long. It's one of the most popular dwarf varieties because of its long bloom season.

Because there are so many different varieties of daylily, they have been divided into different classifications that include dormant, evergreen, and semi-evergreen. Dormant varieties have foliage that dies back to the ground in late fall. The plants remain dormant until spring. They are the hardiest type of daylily. Evergreen varieties have foliage that remains green through winter. They are not reliably hardy here in western Massachusetts. Semi-evergreen types are often the result of crossing a dormant and evergreen variety and they can vary in hardiness. Their foliage remains green through winter in the South, but dies back to the ground in the North once cold weather sets in and the plant remains dormant until spring.

Daylilies are also classified based on plant and flower size. Dwarf or miniature varieties are small plants usually under a foot tall up to a foot and a half tall with flowers less than three inches wide. Some dwarf varieties produce small flowers on very tall scapes. Low varieties grow to two feet tall. Two- to three-foot-tall varieties are classified as medium. Varieties over three feet tall are classified tall.

At my free gardening workshop this week I’ll have a large selection of different daylilies for sale. See the "If You Go" box for more information.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Insects, Diseases, or Animals Damage Flower Buds"

Q. In my extensive shade gardens I have maybe two dozen astilbe. The problem I have, or seem to have, is that some kind of bug eats the blossoms before they can mature, or some kind of disease prevents their full flowering; only a few of that number develop full color and bloom structure. As a result, most of them look as if they were spent. Should I spray the astilbe?

A. It's hard to say exactly what is damaging your astilbe flowers whether it is an insect, disease, or animal. Take a close look at the plants to see if you can find any evidence. Check the plants now and then for any other symptoms.

If it is some sort of insect or disease, I'd recommend spraying the plants with Neem Oil which is an organic, broad-spectrum control of over 200 insects. It is also a very effective fungicide that both prevents and controls many diseases. Since the damage has already occurred and you didn't see any obvious cause it is possible the culprit may have come and gone, so in addition to treating the plants now I would recommend spraying the Neem Oil on the plants earlier next season as a preventative measure. Even if you cannot identify what insect or disease may have caused the damage, there is a very good chance the Neem Oil will control it.

Other than insects and diseases, I would suspect some sort of animal. If all the stems seem to have a clean cut where the flowers were it could have been an animal, such as deer, grazing on the flower buds. Other animals that may have eaten the flowers