Daylilies (Hemerocallis) are the best summer flowers.
They bloom in July and August when other bloom is scarce.
They come in a variety of colors and flower forms. They are
not fussy about soil, are drought tolerant once established,
give in to few pests, and will bloom for many years with minimal
There are over 50,000 varieties registered with the American
Hemerocallis Society; Phoenix Flower Farm grows about 800.
Despite these odds, we dare to say that our selection is among
the best in Central New York, because: We grow some of all
the major flower types (doubles, variants, spiders, eyed,
edged, etc.); most of our varieties are award winners; all
of our varieties have been grown here for at least two years,
so we know they can take tough Central New York winters. We
may not have the precise variety you saw in a catalog, but
we probably can recommend one that equals or surpasses it.
Value: We sell daylilies in 1-gallon pots,
at our standard gallon price, April through October. Obviously,
we don’t have all 800 varieties potted at once. However,
daylilies can be planted bare root during the same period
of time, so we can dig #1 divisions, mini-clumps or clumps
to your order. These will be priced by variety, according
to current market value. We can also ship daylilies, but will
do that only in May and September. The soil where we grow
our daylilies is sandy, which encourages heavy root growth.
Our customers regularly tell us that Flower Farm daylilies
grow fantastically well.
Added value comes from our selection of varieties and knowledge
of how they behave. Daylilies are primarily garden plants,
not cut flowers. It is important to select varieties that
display a high bud count (leading to long bloom period), good
foliage quality, well-branched stalks, and plant vigor for
rapid multiplication. A pretty face is nice, but not enough!
About Daylilies: Daylilies are not really lilies,
but are all descended from a few species of the Asian Hemerocallis
(Beauty for a Day). Species lilioasphodelus (flava) is widely
grown and known as Lemon Lily. It blooms in early June here
and is highly fragrant. Road Lily, which was considered the
only daylily there was in Central New York up to about 20
years ago, is species fulva. It is fantastically invasive
because while it is only rarely fertile, it has adapted to
spread by stolons. Most cultivated daylilies are not invasive,
but multiply politely at the crown, as do most garden perennials.
We grow a few other species, but most of our plants are hybrids
developed in the West over the past 100 years, but chiefly
in the last 50 years in the U.S., where daylily fever has
sometimes reached bizarre heights. There are nearly 10,000
American Hemerocallis Society members, often organized into
clubs (at least six in New York State).
Daylily hybrids are classified primarily by flower size,
form and patterns. Garden judges vote annual awards for miniatures
(flower diameter under 3”), small flower (3” but
less than 4.5”), or large flower (4.5” or more).
The standard modern form is fully round, usually recurved,
with three broad petals overlapping and alternating with three
less-broad sepals—laymen would say that the single daylily
are also given for doubles (multipetaled), and several unusual
forms, the most distinctive of which is spider. The classic
spider form has 6 equal tepals (petals and sepals) with a
length to width ratio of at least 5:1 and no overlap between
For at least 30 years, eyed varieties have been rewarded
in the marketplace and by the judges. The most common eyes
are darker blotches of color on each tepal at the center of
the flower. In the last 10 years a number of hybridizers have
succeeded in obtaining both eyes and edges on the same flower.
In 2000 the highest award for a daylily, the Stout Medal,
was awarded to ‘Strawberry Candy’, a pink small-flowered
variety with rose red eye and edge.
The other major distinction in daylilies is for ploidy, that
is, the number of chromosomes in the plant. Standard plants
are diploid, that is carrying 2 of each chromosome. Sometimes
in nature, but in daylilies, initially by chemical manipulation,
the number of chromosomes is doubled to 4 (tetraploid). Diploids
and tetraploids cannot mate. Tetraploids generally are larger
plants in all respects and have heavier substance. Although
early tetraploids were clearly different from “dips”,
the average gardener today will choose a daylily on the basis
of appearance, color, and plant health. Hybridizers must be
concerned about ploidy however, and tetraploids are commonly
designated in daylily lists by an asterisk (*).
It is worth noting that there are no blue daylilies to date,
and no true whites or greens, though there are near-whites
from the yellow or pink side, greenish yellows, and plenty
of lavenders, purples, and “blacks” (very dark
red). There are yellow and gold continuous bloomers, and a
pink on which the jury is out. Sadly, most classed as rebloomers,
rebloom only sporadically in our area. You can still have
daylily bloom from mid-June through frost, though, by selecting
very early (EE), early mid-season (EM), midseason (M), late
midseason (ML), late (L) and very late (VL). A good strategy
is to ask us for recommendations for yellow or red varieties
in several of these categories. That way you will have design
mass with the plant form, but a continuation of color over
a long period.
lovers have been distressed over the last three years, as
an Asian daylily rust appeared first in Florida and rapidly
in many other states, including New York. In all cases in
New York, it appeared on plants brought in from other known
infected areas. Our Department of Agriculture Plant Inspectors
are working closely with nurseries in the State, educating
us to the signs of rust, and ordering the destruction of any
stocks suspected of contamination. Here at Phoenix Flower
Farm, we have not purchased new daylilies for the past three
years. We will do so this year, but only from carefully selected
suppliers, and we will quarantine all new plants at another
location for a full year. Preliminary indications are that
daylily rust will not be so serious here in the North as for
our more southern colleagues, but for a few years we will
take a cautious approach. For up to the minute information,
consult the AHS website www.daylilies.org.