Q. My daylilies are about bloomed out. Should I cut back the stems or let them dry on the plant?
A. Perennials of all sorts can use some grooming over the summer. The often-proffered idea that perennials are carefree plants is definitely an exaggeration. Almost all perennials will look better and stay healthier if their gardening partner will plan on some tasks over the season.
What is happening to daylilies? They have produced their blooms,and you may have noticed that there are early bloomers, mid-season bloomers and late bloomers. The folks who love daylilies know that they can plan a very long season of bloom by carefully planting some of each of the timed bloomers.
If all of your daylilies are done blooming, you can check the stems for seed casings. Some hybridized daylilies are so highly bred that they can not produce seed. However, many others can and will produce seed, and it may even produce a bloom that is different from the plant that produced the seed. Look for fat seed cases and, if you wish to experiment with trying to grow daylilies from seed, do not remove these few stems. Allow the cases to dry, collect them, remove the seeds, then plant them next year.
If you wish to neaten up your planting of daylilies, you can go through and snip off all the partly dried stems. This reduces the chance of disease or insect infestations. It also means that the arching foliage looks attractive for a much longer time. The foliage of some early daylilies will start to dry and look weather beaten and it can be removed.
You can provide extra energy for the plants by a gentle fertilization now, keep the foliage well watered, and mulch lightly to keep the roots cool. Your fancy daylilies will appreciate the attention.
If you are a lazy gardener, just let it all take its course and, like the so-called "ditch lilies," your plants will be a little bedraggled but will survive.
Contact Pat Lea at firstname.lastname@example.org.