Daylilies are the ideal plant to purchase bare root. They are tough, and the way the root system develops will help them travel well. The thick swellings are actually tuberous roots. They store energy for the plant and help them if they are out of the ground or living in a pot for a while.
Here at Catrina’s garden we do not store your daylilies over the winter. They are kept in the ground until spring when we dig them the day before we ship them. After digging them we clean, trim and label them, then we let them dry for a few hours before they are packed. All of these steps are important.
All soil is cleaned from your daylilies. Although daylilies (especially those grown in the north) don’t have many disease or insect problems; removing the soil prevents nearly any chance of moving soil insects and weeds from one area of the country to another.
So why do we cut them back? Even though daylilies are really tough, all plants are shocked when transplanted and will need to go through a recovery period. Cutting them back has 4 purposes. It allows us to fit more plants in the box. It makes it easier for us to see the crowns when dividing. Most important is that it is better for the plant. There will be less foliage that the plant needs to support while recovering, and lastly there is less water lost from the plant when there is less foliage. When you plant your new plant it is normal for the outer leaves to dry up and turn brown and you will notice new green foliage coming from the center of the crown.
Your plants are dried before they are packaged so that they will not rot or grow any mold while they are in the box. They are labeled for obvious reasons…so that you know which is which, since you can’t tell them apart otherwise…until they bloom.
The most important thing when receiving your plants is to plant them as soon as possible. You may want to start finding a spot for them and getting the soil prepared when you hear from us that they are being shipped.
In choosing their new home there are four things to be considered
- Daylilies do best in full sun. They will not likely die if you plant them in the shade, but they will not bloom well. Please plant them where they get at least 6 hours of sun for best blooming. You could consider planting your dark purple or red varieties in partial shade. They can get spots from too much sun especially if they are wet. Some think a little morning shade allows them to dry off the dew before the sun hits them and some think afternoon shade keeps them out at the hottest part of the day.
- Soil Type – Daylilies will truly grow in almost any type of soil. They will flower better in a rich fertile soil. Adding some compost will help a clay soil more become more friable and will help sandy soil increase water retention.
- Poor drainage will only be a problem if it is severe. You don’t want your daylilies standing in water, they could rot. If you have really heavy clay or are in a low area consider a raised bed.
- Space – Give them a little space. If they are too close to trees, shrubs, weeds or other daylilies they could be robbed of water and nutrients. You don’t want to plant different varieties too close together as they will get big and grow together and you could lose track of which variety is which or a more vigorous variety could “take over” a weaker one. Do feel free to interplant with other perennials. I recommend planting them at least 18 inches apart, or a little wider.
When preparing the spots for your daylilies work the soil down at least a foot to loosen it up. Your hole should be bigger than the root mass if possible.
Because your plants have been dried and have spent some time in a dark box you may want to put them in a bucket of water for a few hours before planting them. Some people don’t agree with this. If your plants don’t look dry at all this may not be necessary. The big thing here is not to leave them in the water too long…over night at the longest. Leaving them in water longer than this could lead to rot. If you can’t get them planted right away bury the roots in a bucket of damp sand or plant them temporarily in a pot or close together in the ground. Please keep them watered.
Some people like to add a weak solution of fertilizer to the water. This could help but be sure that it is not too strong or it could burn them. We don’t use fertilizer because we garden organically. When I purchase my own daylilies I put a small shovel full of compost in the water to make a compost tea. If they don’t look dry it is perfectly fine to plant immediately and water well.
Water them well…ah yes; that is the key. Daylilies being the strong carefree plants that they are need little supplemental water in most areas, once established. They do however need frequent watering when they are first planted; especially if planted in the summer, or in hot, dry climates.
So how exactly do you plant them?
- Make a little mound in the center of your hole. This is because the daylily has a crown and roots that are fanned out around it. You want the roots to be draped down deeper than the crown and the crown should be sitting at the same height in the soil as it was previously.
- You can see how deep to plant them because the part that was under the ground before will be white and the part that goes above the ground is green.
- The crown should not be more than an inch below the surface.
- Firm the soil around the roots to remove air pockets but you don’t have to pack it super tight.
- The new plant should be the same height as the surrounding soil, but you can make a bit of a soil ring around it so that the water doesn’t run off.
- Water well…oh yeah, we already said that.
- Label your plant – Some people don’t care about the names of their plants, but even if you don’t, you may want to know what color it is. Just use the name. Even if you don’t care about it now you may find that you do in the future. Daylilies can lose much of their value if they are nameless. I have a few from when I first started gardening that are lovely but I can’t sell them because I don’t know their true identity.
- Diploids including most spiders and miniature daylilies will have much smaller fans than tetraploids. This is normal. We always send at least 3 fans of daylilies that have small fans, many times more. For large tetraploid daylilies you will always get at least two large fans, many times three. Usually, the limiting factor will be the size of the box.
- Daylilies that grow in the far north may be smaller in size than those grown in the south. Really; they will perform just as well if not better, especially for those of you that live in the north. They also have the benefit of not having troubles with rust. If you get a huge fan from Florida or Alabama you will notice that it will be smaller before too long when you plant them in the North.
- Your new daylilies probably won’t bloom the first year. This is normal. Remember, they are recovering. Some people even cut the scapes off the first year to help the plant get a strong start. Scapes are the stalks that produce the flowers. I like to leave just one scape to make sure that I got the correct plant.
- Please judge your new plants by the roots not the leaves.
- Enjoy your new daylilies.