Ever since I laid eyes on a daylily I’ve been infatuated with their grace, poise and beauty. Their blooms are lustrous, dignified and majestic to a fault and I find that when they’re flowering in the garden everything else may as well shut up shop and go home, for these are where the eye is immediately drawn.
It was actually in a cafe in Fremantle where our acquaintance started. Big urns stacked with herringbone fronds, contorted willow twigs and some other blooms that I fail to remember. Yet, poking out without abandon was this daylily. Blooms as big as side-plates and their bulbous buds offering a peek into tomorrow grabbed customer’s attention spans quicker than the latte’s in their hands – everybody was looking at them, some even swapping anecdotes.
“I’m having those flowers in my bridal bouquet?” I overheard one young girl exclaim. Another shared memories of her mother’s garden and still others just admired their majestic symmetry and bright tonal hues.
The daylily appeared too tropical to be growing in our temperate climate and I originally wrote them off as a plant that I would only ever admire from a distance. Then my mum, the ultimate gardener, handed me a potted clump that she had divided from her own plants. “You have daylilies growing in our garden and I’ve never noticed?” How did that happen?
Completely stumped, I put my lack of overtness down to youthful selfishness and my “living for the moment” lifestyle.
But, here in my hands was a pot of glorious flowers waiting to be released upon my garden. I could sense the rest of my plants were already stressing and not quite ready to be usurped by this fledgling specimen.
At first, my daylily was the “bees-knees” (colloquial for the penultimate object). I lovingly watered, nurtured and cared for this plant as though it were the most expensive plant ever. Then it dawned on me that ‘Yellow’ wasn’t the only colour that daylilies came in. In fact, the simple yellow blooms are probably the most boring of all the daylilies and with the many hybrids on offer today, I was treasuring a plant that was so…well…so, yesterday.
My nurturing stopped, as did the reticulation over summer, and I didn’t really mind too much. I noticed it dying and I felt a sense of justice had occurred for tricking me into thinking that my love affair with this plant was warranted. I was already scouring the catalogues looking for a nicer option.
After I was convinced that it had taken it’s final breath – anyone could make that assumption when there is no green foliage left and what remained of the foliage just dissipated in your hand when you tried to pick it up – I decided to fix the retic, in preparation for my next daylily – of course.
A week later, you can imagine my surprise, green fronds began to surface in the very place where this daylily once stood. Could this be? Can this plant survive such a torrid death and still have the will to exist? Surely not.
I am now thoroughly convinced that daylilies have joined the ranks of cockroaches as being the only living things to survive a nuclear holocaust. Is there any other explanation?
For those who love the glorious daylily as much as I do, even the yellow ones, you will do well to nurture them through thick and thin. If you don’t, chances are they will come back to haunt you anyway.
Daylily Growing and Care Tips
Like most rhizome plants, the daylily prefers a richly composted soil that drains well yet offers an ongoing supply of nutrients to feed its ever-growing need to bloom. Their flowers only last a day – hence the name “Day Lily” – but there are so many buds surrounding each flower that one is soon to take its place once the bloom is spent.
The daylily is a clumping plant and so requires dividing every couple of years to ward of disease but to also keep it under control. There is no need to trim the foliage but once the flowers are spent it pays to cut off the bloom stems. On their own they will eventually brown and fall off, much like the old foliage, but it can become unsightly.
Fertilise your daylily once when the blooms have all finished and then again as they start to bud. Using a foliar spray in conjunction with a rich humus should certainly satisfy their cravings.