Daylily Woes

Daylilies are prolific and have very few issues.

Don't know if you have noticed but the deer like daylilies. If you look in the garden catalogs that flood our mailboxes throughout the year, the growers seem to think that daylilies are deer proof. Real life says something different!

I have loved this particular perennial for many years. It will grow in just about any soil or under any light conditions. When I was a senior at Virginia Tech, I took a class that went on a field trip to Andre Viette’s Nursery near Charlottesville. I was in heaven because I knew my mom would love them. Took the plunge and bought $72 worth of daylilies. (I only remember this amount because it was the first thing I EVER charged on a Visa!)

Nearly 30 years later, those plants are still in my mom's yard as well as my yard, my sister's in Baltimore, my sister's in Takoma Park and my brother's in Alexandria, as well as many neighbors' yards. They are nothing if not prolific.

For the longest time I thought that this plant was disease-free. Turns out, one of my neighbors had a patch which always comes up so nice and light green in the
spring but has streaked leaves every year. (see picture) This patch has less
and less blooms over time.  This year, there was a plethora of buds, which is a great thing, until the deer chomped on it the past week.

Looking up the diseases of the daylily, there really is very few, which is probably why you see so many plantings along highways and byways in Virginia. The big two are Leaf Streak and Daylily Rust.

See this link to read more about these diseases. http://www.daylilies.org/ahs_dictionary/diseases.html

The best way to control these fungal diseases is to remove the dead material to prevent overwintering on the soil. You can also look up the appropriate fungicide to treat the soil and the leaves to kill off the spores before they spread. You should also isolate any new daylilies if you already have the rust or leaf streak and/or if you are not sure your new plants have the disease as well.

My mother's daylilies have the Daylily Rust which has made for a not so good season this year for her. We will split up the plants and treat the rhizomes this fall. It is just so sad to see diseased plants in your garden, isn't it?

Keep the garden clean and this will control a lot of your problems.

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Robert Mowbray June 26, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Daylilies are invasive exotics contributing to declining populations of native species. Bob Mowbray Forest Ecologist
Molly O'Boyle June 26, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Bob, I see what you are saying but I don't totally agree with your comment. Daylilies don't usually spread out of the garden they are planted because they don't have seeds. They also are not a vine which sprouts roots at every node. When they do expand the space where they are planted, there is usually not a very successful flower rate as the "new" plant is not very strong, in my opinion. I guess what you are saying is in natural settings where daylilies have been planted for natural restoration of a space or to shore up a slope, they should be avoided because then natives cannot germinate/expand. Is this correct?
BBurns July 02, 2012 at 12:06 PM
I don't think daylilies are ranked at the top (worst) of the invasives, but they are considered invasive, and you can find posts on line asking how to get rid of them since they've taken over gardens. A couple of many articles about them with slightly different takes: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/invasivetutorial/orange_daylily.htm http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/pubs/midatlantic/hefu. And for the heck of it, Reston's banned invasives - some of the worst of the worst (not daylillies): http://www.reston.org/portals/3/Mick/8Invasive09.pdf It's very sad that most garden centers continue selling invasives. They should be at the forefront of educating about native plants that would work as well - or better. The beauty of planting native plants is that after the first year of watering, unless there's a bad drought the next year, you don't have to worry about them. We planted a bunch of green and gold in our front yard and were blown away how after 4 to 6 weeks they doubled and tripled in size and had bright yellow blooms. In one patch where we planted them 12 inches apart you already can't see the ground between them. Happy plants! We bought them at Reston's native plant sale and Nature by Design - which only sells native plants.


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