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Master Gardener Sue Morris: Time to add daylilies to your flower garden

Daylilies are an easy-care perennial to add to your flower garden. Early fall is one of the best times for planting them.

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If you are looking for an easy-care perennial to add to your flower garden, daylilies are the plant for you. They are not true lilies, even though their trumpet-like flowers resemble lily flowers.

True lilies of the genus Lillium grow from onion-like bulbs, while daylilies grow from a mass of fleshy roots that hold moisture and nutrients.

Daylily blooms grow at the end of tall stalks called scapes. Each bloom lasts only one day, but the flowering period of daylilies lasts for weeks because each scape has multiple flower buds and the plants produce multiple scapes.

Keep reading below the related content for more of this week's column from Master Gardener Sue Morris.

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Daylilies have been called the perfect perennial because they are available in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. They require little care, tolerate drought and aren’t fussy about soil pH as long as soil is well-drained. They suffer few pest and disease problems and have a long blooming season.

Although early spring or early fall are the best time for planting daylilies, you can plant them successfully as long as you can dig the hole but don’t divide in the summer, or within 6 to 8 weeks of first frost.

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Caring for daylilies begins with planting. If your soil is sandy or heavy clay, amend it with plenty of organic matter. Choose a site where your growing daylilies will receive at least six hours of sun. Morning sun is best.

Cut the foliage back to six inches. Dig your hole twice as wide and deep as the root spread.

A photo of a daylily from the garden of Sue Morris
A daylily is shown in the garden of Sue Morris, south of Willmar.
Contributed / Sue Morris

Place the plant so the crown (the part where the roots meet the stem) is about one inch below ground level.

Fill in the hole with your amended soil and water well. After planting daylilies, keep them well watered for a few weeks until the roots are established.

Daylilies are vigorous growers and can be divided every three or four years. Because of the number of varieties, they make great specimens to trade with neighbors and friends.

Once up and growing, daylilies perform best if you remove the seed pods. Leaving them on the plant will retard the following year’s bloom.

In early spring, daylily care consists of removing the dead leaves from the surrounding ground and weeding. A cover of mulch will keep the weeds down though it isn’t necessary for the plant itself.

Crowded daylilies won't bloom well. Don’t be afraid to dig into your daylily to divide it — they are very tough plants.

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Position the tines of a garden spade approximately 10 inches outside of the edge of the daylily clump. Push the tines into the ground to loosen the clump in the soil. Remove the spade and reposition it at another spot approximately 10 inches outside of the daylily clump. Push the spade tines into the soil again to loosen the clump. Repeat this around the entire perimeter of the clump to loosen it completely from the soil.

Lift the daylily plant out of the soil with the spade.

Find the middle of the clump and insert two spades with backs facing each other into this spot. Push the spade handles away from each other to break the clump into two pieces. Repeat this with both separated pieces if you want still smaller clumps.

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Master Gardener Sue Morris has been writing this column since 1991 for Kandiyohi County newspapers. Morris has been certified through the University of Minnesota as a gardening and horticulture expert since 1983. She lives in Kandiyohi County.

Master Gardener Sue Morris has been writing a column since 1991 for Kandiyohi County newspapers. Morris has been certified through the University of Minnesota as a gardening and horticulture expert since 1983. She lives in Kandiyohi County.
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