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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gardening: Daylilies reach peak in mid-July

This unnamed variety of daylily has been sending out blooms for nearly two weeks. Each flower lasts only a day but there are lots of buds on the stalk or scape to take its place. Deadheading spent flowers can help prolong the flower production.  (Courtesy)
This unnamed variety of daylily has been sending out blooms for nearly two weeks. Each flower lasts only a day but there are lots of buds on the stalk or scape to take its place. Deadheading spent flowers can help prolong the flower production. (Courtesy)
By Pat Munts For The Spokesman-Review

Before launching into this week’s topic, a note on plant damage created by the record hot weather a couple of weeks ago and the continued 90-plus degree days we are still experiencing.

In my garden I have leaf burn on Rogersia plants that got too much sun, a dwarf hemlock that is losing needles on the south facing side and have completely lost an Alberta spruce. The hemlock and spruce were moved this spring, so their root systems couldn’t take in the water they needed. The Rogersia got caught in a sprinkler issue and probably didn’t get enough water.

More damage will show up later this year and even next spring. Try shading plants with beach umbrellas to provide some shade to stressed plants. Keep watering deeply, you can’t over water in this heat.

Mid-July is daylily season. Their vibrantly colored flowers have brought color back into the garden after the spring blooming rush. Their scientific name is Hemerocallis which means “beauty for a day.” Each flower will open in the morning and die back at the end of the day.

Daylilies are tough and can take almost any well-drained soil, are somewhat drought tolerant and not bothered by pests. The only care they need is to have an application of compost in the spring and removal of old foliage at the end of the season. Deer will nibble them if something tastier isn’t available, so make applications of deer repellant as the flowers come out. Only the 2-foot-tall yellow Stella d’Oro daylily has been bred to be deer resistant.

Breeders have developed thousands of cultivars of daylilies, and that allows them to fit into almost any part of a sunny garden. Small ones can be used in low growing beds or as front border plants. The taller ones fit nicely into the back of borders or as a hedge. They mix well with ornamental grasses, small conifers and plants with larger leaves.

Daylily flowers come in almost every color except pure white and pure blue. The old-fashioned varieties that came from roadsides and our grandmothers’ gardens usually ranged in the orange, yellow and dull rosy orange. The breeders have created the rest. Many of the cultivars have multicolored and blend together bands, spots and halos of color on the petals, flower base and even the stamens.

The online and retail nurseries usually have a good supply of starter plants for spring planting. Dig a hole that will fit the root and mix a healthy amount of compost into the soil. Set the crown of the plant at the soil surface, backfill the hole and water deeply.

Although daylilies thrive in the same place for years, late July is the best time to dig up clumps and divide them. Carefuclly dig around a clump, shake off the dirt and cut the root ball into smaller sections with a section of crown on each. Replant and water deeply and frequently through the end of the summer.

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