Breeding Daylilies

Breeding Daylilies

Part of Ep. 1003 Weep No More

Follow the process Roy Klehm, from Klehm's Song Sparrow Perennial Farm near Avalon, uses to develop longer blooming and more colorful daylilies.

Premiere date: Jul 24, 2002

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
These are so gorgeous. I'd love to plant them in my backyard right now. Unfortunately, they're not available yet. These are daylilies that are currently in development at Klehm's Song Sparrow Perennial Farm near Avalon, Wisconsin. I'm with the co-owner, Roy Klehm. Roy, these have come a long way from the orange daylilies in my ditch!

Roy:
They certainly have. Look at the broad color range we've developed. Look at the beautiful ruffling. Oftentimes, the ruffling matches the throat, here. Look at the diamond dusting on this one, particularly, coming out. The nice branching on them, the big bud count, the strong, sturdy stems, the fragrance.

Shelley:
And they bloom a lot longer, too.

Roy:
Right, we extended that range to probably early May into early September, with the peak being in July.

Shelley:
So, we can have daylilies all summer long.

Roy:
You can. We especially like July flowers, because we don't have very much in our gardens in Wisconsin to enjoy in July. I think it's Hemerocallis and Hollyhocks.

Shelley:
That's true. That's about it. And they put up with a lot of Wisconsin climates, and our soils, and everything.

Roy:
They're perfectly hardy. The winters are no problem. Snow is no problem. They love sunny locations through half-shade locations. They can take almost any kind of soil range. They love an inch of water a week during the summer, because then you'll get maximum performance out of them.

Shelley:
Isn't it a little bit of a down side that each of these gorgeous flowers is going to be gone tomorrow? They only last a day.

Roy:
I don't think it is. If the flowers are destroyed today by hail, wind, or whatever, you get a fresh crop of flowers just as pretty as today's flowers.

Shelley:
Good point, if my plants got hailed on, I'd be done.

Roy:
That's right.

Shelley:
These are ones that are in development here. So, what are you looking for?

Roy:
I brought a box of the various things we're working on to show you this morning. You can see the total color range. Even in the miniature flowers-- Here's a little miniature flower. See the nice ruffling on it?

Shelley:
That's beautiful.

Roy:
It gets three inches, or less, which is a miniature. It's almost done blooming, because it's fairly early. Nice branching, nice bud count. Here's a large flower in yellow. Look at the beautiful branching and bud count on that. There's at least 30 buds on that.

Shelley:
Wow!

Roy:
So, for 30 days of summer, we'll have flowers. And today, we're lucky to have three flowers. These yellows are oftentimes very fragrant. Smell that.

Shelley:
Oh, is that nice! I don't think of daylilies for scent.

Roy:
A citrus smell. See how the nice green throat amplifies the yellow color?

Shelley:
So, that's the kind of things we're really looking for? The strong, sturdy stem, lots of buds...

Roy:
Oh, sure. We don't prima donnas in the garden. We want plants that perform. Look at the nice rich red. This is a "Sunfast Red" with ruffling, and a green throat that will withstand our hot, summer days.

Shelley:
Almost a shade of purple.

Roy:
I see that, too. And this is sort of unique. This is what we call a "Picotee." A Picotee means that the little purple on the edge that has come around the whole edge of the flower is the same color as the eye of the flower. And oftentimes, they're cream. The cream makes the purple really show. It's one of our prize Picotees. And some even look like orchids.

Shelley:
This one, yeah, that looks like an orchid.

Roy:
Look at how beautiful that orange is with ruffling all up and down the sepals and the petals.

Shelley:
What's the process? I assume you find a daylily that has things you're looking for. What do you do next?

Roy:
When we pick out a good one in the breeding field, we have one plant. So, we divide that plant into about six and put it in another field. And two years later, we re-judge it. If we like it, we advance the six into say, 20. Two years later, we advance the 20 into, say, 80 or 90, and we almost have enough to sell. Every time you advance them, you re-judge them, and you get tougher with your criteria, because ultimately, the plants have to have nice garden structure and texture. They have to look nice in the garden-- good leaves, good foliage-- Besides the beauty of their flowers they have to have that garden presence.

Shelley:
We're talking up to eight years before I might be able to purchase these.

Roy:
Right, but this one might come out next year. Because I think it's beautiful with the highly fluted ruffles and a blend of colors in here. It's a pretty peach.

Shelley:
So, all you have to do is come up with some creative name for it.

Roy:
Well, we named a Peony after you, Shelley. I was thinking that maybe we'd name this variety after you.

Shelley:
Well, let's come up with some subtle names.

Roy:
Not "Sensational Shelley"?

Shelley:
That works for me! (both laugh)

Shelley:
Let's talk about planting, briefly, Roy. It's very easy. I've actually left daylilies in the back of my truck, which I know isn't considered great.

Roy:
They're tough because they have so much stored energy in the lower stem and fleshy roots. They can be moved, bare root, like this, anytime in the growing season.

Shelley:
Anytime?

Roy:
This is how we ship them. They're planted about this deep. If you have good friable soil, that's the best. Water them well, because daylilies respond to water. And then, the leaves will re-grow and you'll probably even get flowers this year.

Shelley:
Wow, that'll be fast!

Roy:
The other way is a real good containerized plant where you have the entire root system in the container. This plant won't go through any check, and it will just start growing and blooming and doing its thing.

Shelley:
Great. I'm going to have to add more to my garden, as usual.

EPISODE SEGMENTS+
EPISODE RESOURCES+

Funding for The Wisconsin Gardener is provided, in part, by The Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.