North Florida Daylily Society
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Growing Daylilies in North Florida
WHAT IS A DAYLILY?
The daylily is a member of the lily family LILIACEAE, as are such plants as onions and hyacinths. Daylilies are in the genus Hemerocallis. This work is derived from two Greek words meaning "beauty" and "day", referring to the fact that each flower lasts only one day. To make up for this, there are many buds on each daylily scape (stalk) and many scapes in each clump of plants. The flowering period of a clump is usually several weeks long. Many varieties have more than one flowering period. See our FAQ's page for a description of the daylily plant.
DAYLILY CULTURE TIPS FOR NORTH FLORIDA
The Daylily has often been called the perfect perennial for many reasons. It is available in a rainbow of colors and a variety of shapes and sizes, is able to survive with very little care in a wide range of climates, is suitable for all types of landscapes, is drought resistant, adaptable to various soil and light conditions, is known to bloom from late spring until autumn, and is hardy throughout the State. They are available in all colors except pure white and blue. Our peak bloom season in North Florida is May with re-bloom occurring June through August. Daylilies perform well under many different garden settings. They perform better, however, when well planted in a suitable location.
WHERE TO PLANT
Daylilies should be planted in full sun or partial shade. For optimum performance they should receive at least a half day of sun. Darker colors (red, purple, etc.) benefit from partial shade during the hottest part of the day. Too much shade will reduce the amount of flowering. Daylilies need good drainage, so do not plant in areas where water stands during heavy rainfall. Daylilies should be planted away from hedge and tree roots which can rob the plants of needed nutrients. Pine trees with their deep root system, are the exception as the plants seem to benefit from the dappled shade.
WHEN TO PLANT
Early Spring or late Fall (October) are ideal planting times for our area, however, any time is ok as long as they have plenty of water during hot dry spells and time to establish roots before winter arrives. Plants put in the ground in October will be better established to provide more blooms for the next blooming season.
Daylilies grow in almost any soil type from sand to heavy clay, however, it is recommended to incorporate organic material such as oak leaves, peat, compost, old manure, aged sawdust, peat moss, or grass clippings into your soil. A slightly acid soil (ph from 6.0 to 6.5) that is loose and loamy generates good growth. Avoid/amend clay soils that hold shape when compressed in your hand. Work the soil to a depth of at least 12" with a tiller, pitchfork, or shovel. Compost sources in/near Jacksonville, Florida are located on Philips Highway - Enviro-Comp Services 11600 Davis Creek Road, Phone (904) 288-6364. These sources are free to residents, however, you must provide your own containers and load on your own.
To plant daylilies, dig a hole larger than the root masses with a trowel or small shovel. Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12". Make a mound of soil in the center of the hole and set the center of the daylily on top of the mound. Spread the roots out to the sides of the mound. Next, fill the hole with loose soil making sure the crown of the daylily is at ground level and that roots are just slightly under the soil. Daylilies should be planted at the same depth they were originally grown. DO NOT PLANT TOO DEEP. Plants should be placed 18" to 24" apart. Water newly planted daylilies and keep the soil moist until the plants are well established.
Oak leaves and pine straw make excellent mulch, keeping the roots cooler in summer and helps to conserve moisture. They also decompose and enrich the soil. The mulch should be about one and half inches thick after it settles and no deeper than 2" or it may stunt growth or cause poor flowering.
Daylilies will not tolerate standing in water or wet feet. However, the only thing more vital than plant food for daylilies is water. If you provide sufficient water, you will be rewarded with a longer bloom season with better flowers and scapes. Sufficient moisture will aid the plant in growth potential and bloom performance. Water thoroughly so that the ground is sufficiently soaked. Apply 1/2" to 3/4" twice a week.
Select a quality balanced fertilizer (8-8-8 or 10-10-10) with trace elements. Fertilization should be done at least three times per year, early Spring, early Fall, and early Winter. Apply at the rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet of growing area (note directions and quantity for use on fertilizer container). Reduce for younger plants. Milorganite (6-2-0) is a good fertilizer to use in the spring to encourage growth and blooms. A liquid fertilizer (Peters or Miracle Grow) can be used every two weeks beginning in March through June.
Daylilies do not usually have a serious problem with insects. They may, at times, be attacked by aphids, spider mites or thrips. Aphids are usually seen as tiny bright yellow or green insects with long antennae and two tubes projecting backwards from their abdomens. They may also be red, black or other colors and may be winged or wing-less. The first sign of damage is often the changing of foliage color from green to yellow. They can also cause small warty bumps which appear on the back of flower buds. Most home gardeners do not realize spider mites are present until damage is severe because these pests are very small and usually go undetected on the underside of the leaves. They feed from underneath the leaves, sucking out the plants juices. Spider mites are probably the most common daylily pest and they are most active in hot, dry weather. They have tiny, oval bodies about the size of a period (.) They are barely visible insects ranging in color from tan to red, yellow, greenish or spotted. Adults spin loose webs on foliage and reproduce rapidly in hot weather. First noticeable damage is the upper leaf surface beginning to have tiny stippled spots. Hosing off the underside of the leaves sometimes helps in their control. Damaged leaves lose their green color, turning tan and then brown, and eventually die. Thrips are one of the most serious pests that attack daylilies. Several species of thrips have been found on daylilies. They are extremely small narrow-winged elongated insects gray-black insects about the size and shape of the upper part of a small exclamation point (!). They feed on young developing buds and stems causing brown, corky areas on the stems and bent and twisted flowers. The damage causes discolored, mis-shapened flowers and reduces flower bud set. Buds may drop without opening.
You may be able to eradicate aphids by flushing them out using a water hose. A second option would be to try a soapy water spray (1 tablespoon of dish washing soap per gallon of water). Insecticidal soaps do little damage to aphid enemies. A few aphids should be tolerated because they are a good food source for beneficial insects.
Control of spider mites is difficult because they multiply quickly and develop pesticide tolerance when the same product is used repeatedly. Alternate horticultural oil with insecticidal soap. Use a garden hose to dislodge mites from plants.
Use a horticultural soap spray to control thrips.
If you have a heavy infestation and feel you need chemical intervention, check with the Duval County Extension Service or your local Garden Center for recommendations. The article titled "Insect Management on Landscape Plants" from the University of Florida is another good article on insect control. DO NOT USE ANY PRODUCT CONTAINING ISOTOX OR KELTHANE. THESE SUBSTANCES ARE TOXIC TO DAYLILIES.
Helpful critters such as ladybugs, dragonflys, and even frogs should be granted use of the garden as they are helpful in insect control.
Daylilies for Florida - Univ. of Florida Cooperative Extension Service