“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toile not, neither do they spinne.” King James Version of Matthew 6:28
A rainbow of color, sprawling rows of lilies, adorn lawns of one of the state of Virginia Greater Richmond Area’s older residential communities. Purchased in year 2000 by Daniel J Kline and his wife, an existing landscape of ‘heat island’ resistant dahlia plants soon became problematic. As a result, Kline began a gardening journey to identify viable perennial plants.
Daylilies, good plants because they are relatively maintenance free, were identified to work-well in most landscapes. Daylilies are grown both for their foliage which makes an excellent ground cover and attractive flowers that can vary in form and color. In fact, ‘grower/developer’ popularity polls rate these plants in terms of their petal shape variety of width, slightly recurved, overlapping, crinkled, frilled, and ruffled. Flower shapes vary from trumpet- and cup-like to those resembling bells.
Daylilies also occur in a wide assortment of colors including white, yellow, orange, pink, red, and purple with a range within each color category; and in fact, it is bloom color variety which has sparked Kline’s second quest – development of a blue tone color bloom. Features that make daylilies a favorite for gardeners to grow are dependability as perennials, hardiness; and prolific blooms relatively free of pests. In general, these plants are tolerant of drought and flooding; immune to heat stress; tolerant of most soils, full sun, or light shade; and require little fertilizer. Plus, they can be grown in most areas of the country, make excellent cut flowers, and have edible flower heads.
Two favorites identified by Kline are ‘Heavenly United We Stand’ and Hemerocallis ‘Land Of Cotton’. He identified these plants of such popularity poll characteristics to enhance his propagation activities. HEAVENLY UNITED WE STAND has 9” sun fast blood red flowers with a nice green throat. From a developer and/or collector perspective, it has the total package: excellent color, bud count, branching, cold hardy genes, large flower size, height, blue green foliage, bud builder, dormancy, and super plant habit. Collectors agree not a single trait needs improvement except maybe a flower size of 14”.
Hemerocallis ‘Land Of Cotton’, a white tone bloom, is identified to work best in full Sun to partial shade, soil pH requirements of 6.1 to 7.8, propagation by dividing the rootball, blooms midseason , bloom size of large (more than 4.5″ diameter), flower type of double, slightly fragrant and is semi-evergreen. The foliage is quite an attractive offering of interesting textural contrast to other fine-foliaged perennials.
While in general, propagation of daylilies is done primarily by division following flowering, Kline experiments with seed pods. For less experienced gardeners, prior to division, foliage is cut back to one-half its length to ease handling and reduce water loss. For best results, regardless of propagation choice, he has found if replanting in the same location, to replenish the soil before planting with well-rotted compost and a fertilizer high in phosphorus for root development. On the other hand, typical of most who chose to garden in central Virginia soils, Kline has identified acidity to be an ongoing issue. As a result, he monitors soil acidity; and is presently experimenting with the use of charcoal in composted matter.
While charcoal can resist decay and will not decompose in most compost piles, the single most important quality of charcoal to a gardener is its ability to lower acidity, also termed liming capacity or effective neutralizing power. Raising soil pH has been identified as biochar’s most important contribution to influencing soil quality in the context of Terra Preta. The effect is measured in an agricultural laboratory as calcium carbonate equivalent (CCE). If you are growing acid-loving plants you will want a charcoal with negligible CCE, and purportedly this is true of Mulga (Acacia) wood, bamboo, and pine needle derived charcoal. If you are combating low soil pH and aluminum toxicity you will want a charcoal with substantial CCE. Oak and maple hardwood charcoal appear to have substantial CCE.
Although flowers are recognized to only last for a day, blooms are continuously being replaced the next day for as long as six weeks. So, by selecting early, mid-, and late-season varieties, it is possible to extend the flowering season from May until September. In other words, create a rainbow of color, sprawling rows of lilies which adorn lawns of urban, suburban or rural residential communities. To learn more about Kline’s activities, follow him on Facebook or search Craig’s List for periodic sale of inventory.