Daylilies

Daylilies

Part of Ep. 704 The Summer Garden

Tour the Fields of Greystone, a daylily farm near Muscoda where Bill and Linda Lehman grow over 500 varieties of daylilies.

Premiere date: Aug 28, 1999

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
The topic is daylilies and we're at The Fields of Greystone, a daylily farm near Muscoda. Here, Bill and Linda Lehman grow over 500 varieties of daylilies. Bill, that's a lot of daylilies. Why so many?

Bill:
Well, first of all, they're pest resistant. They'll grow practically anywhere. And above all, they're just beautiful.

Shelley:
So, it's almost a perfect perennial.

Bill:
They are called the perfect perennial. Here, let me show you a mature clump, here. This is called a clump. It's made up of individual fans or plants. And this little thing right here is called the scape or...

Shelley:
The flower stalk.

Bill:
Yes, all of the above.

Shelley:
Why are these called daylilies?

Bill:
They're called daylilies because-- as you can see, there are buds here-- each bud will turn into a flower and that flower will last only one day.

Shelley:
One day.

Bill:
One day. Now, this is different than other perennials. Our peonies that we have behind us got caught in some pretty severe weather this spring. And of course, each stem of a peony has one blossom on top. And that got just thrashed in the rain and the weather that we had. It ended up on the ground.

Shelley:
And that's not a problem on daylilies?

Bill:
No, if we run into severe weather with a daylily, you get a whole new set tomorrow.

Shelley:
So, the blooms today might get hailed on, but that's not the end of the blooming.

Bill:
Absolutely. You'll get a whole new set tomorrow. And consequently, you'll lose a day, you won't lose a season, like with the peonies.

Shelley:
Well, what is the bloom season of daylilies?

Bill:
The bloom season is four to six weeks. And that covers the beginning of July all the way into September.

Shelley:
So, it's a nice summer bloomer for the summer garden.

Bill:
Absolutely. It kind of takes up some of the gaps that we have in our perennial borders where things start to fade a little bit and we're waiting for the fall perennials to come.

Shelley:
But you also mentioned it's fairly low maintenance, no diseases and no pests. Don't I have any problems with those kind of things?

Bill:
Virtually none. You may have a bug here and there, but we don't spray anything for pests here and I wouldn't know what kind of spray to use if we did.

Shelley:
And this sure looks healthy, considering.

Bill:
Absolutely.

Shelley:
What kind of maintenance might we have to do with a daylily, then?

Bill:
Well, periodically, you have to divide the clump. They just get too big.

Shelley:
And crowded.

Bill:
Right, and congested. And so, I would say that six or seven years, somewhere in there would be the norm. The plant will tell you. The blooms will get smaller and there won't be quite as many.

Shelley:
What time of year am I doing the divisions?

Bill:
Probably late May, early June or after they're done blooming. If you do it in early May and June, you can divide the plant, put it back in the ground and it will continue to bloom that season.

Shelley:
Talk me through it then.

Bill:
Let's dig a clump.

Shelley:
When you're digging, I can't help noticing what kind of soil you've got here. This looks like clay.

Bill:
Yes, Greystone is blessed with clay soil.

Shelley:
So, that's okay for daylilies?

Bill:
Yep, and also sand or any other kind of soil that will make the carpet dirty.

Shelley:
So, about anywhere in Wisconsin.

Bill:
Anywhere in Wisconsin.

Shelley:
Okay, show me how to do this.

Bill:
Okay, I started to divide some, I'll just continue on. You just stick my trusty screwdriver...

Shelley:
A very high-tech tool.

Bill:
In the crown, which is at the junction between the green and the roots. You just gently put it in, poke down and then you can just gradually work the fans apart.

Shelley:
Do I have to worry about screwing this up? I mean, if I'm a beginner at divisions, is this a plant I'm going to kill?

Bill:
No, you can damage these, you can rip the tops off. We've all done it. And you really can't hurt a daylily. Now, when we want to re-plant it, you would take several-- four or five, let's say- - put them back together and we just take them back and put them in the ground. Now, if you can't put them in the ground immediately, don't worry about it. They can stay out of the ground for four, five or six weeks. I wouldn't recommend it, but...

Shelley:
It's been done.

Bill:
Right, and the roots are just full of water, so they can stand being out of the ground.

Shelley:
You mentioned that you've got 500 varieties. Can we look at some of them?

Bill:
Sure can. Let's go. Shelley, this is our digging field for our customers. It's not in bloom right now, as you can see, but in a couple weeks, it will just be a sea of color.

Shelley:
What kind of colors? What's up with daylilies these days?

Bill:
Well, you can find pretty much any kind of color except the color blue. And we're getting real close on that. We have flowers-- well, for instance, this variety has a flower about this big. This right over here has an eight-inch flower. There's halos, there's edges, there's ruffles. You name it, we can find it in this field.

Shelley:
So, how many varieties actually are there of daylilies.

Bill:
You'll be surprised, but there are over 43,000 different varieities of daylilies.

Shelley:
And they're all hardy here?

Bill:
Not necessarily. Some of them are grown in the southern climate.

And those are referred to as evergreens. And so, they don't do well here in Wisconsin without some real serious winter protection.

Shelley:
Well, how do I, as a gardener, make sure I'm getting something that's really going to thrive here?

Bill:
Well, here at Greystone, you can see we grow everything in the ground. We don't believe in greenhouses. We think the plants should thrive on their own, not just merely survive.

Shelley:
So, try to buy locally.

Bill:
Absolutely. Why don't you grab a bag, there. Thank you. Because nobody leaves Greystone without a nice daylily.

Shelley:
And this is how you actually sell them to the customers?

Bill:
Absolutely. This will bloom tomorrow in your yard.

Shelley:
It is hardy. Thanks, Bill. Bill taught me a great line. If you can't grow up, grow daylilies!

EPISODE SEGMENTS+

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