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Tall, big-blooming daylilies just may be the perfect perennial

Tall, big-blooming daylilies just may be the perfect perennial

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Many of my gardening friends have begun downsizing.

Some gardeners want to get out from under weeding, transplanting, deadheading, harvesting, dragging hoses around and countless other chores that get harder as we get older. Believe me, I understand. After several hours, the garden looks great, but I’m a wreck. Sore knees, an aching back and the slow, inexorable stiffening of muscles and joints make it hard to move around after a couple of hours. Letting a border revert to grass is soooo appealing at those moments.

Lately, I’ve opted for low-maintenance plants when something needs replaced. But I also love tall plants and giant blooms. Daylilies, described as the “perfect perennial,” offer the best of all worlds – low maintenance, large blooms and towering stems.

There are some giants, too. “Autumn Minaret” offers a four-inch buttery yellow spider-type fragrant bloom with a soft orange cast on each stem that scrapes the sky at 5 or more feet tall – roughly 66 inches. It’s a late-season daylily that blooms after most other varieties are done.

For huge blooms, you can’t go wrong with “Mico,” a mid-season variety whose fragrant, bright gold spider blooms measure 10 inches across on scapes that can reach 4 feet tall. “Springfield Clan” is a early-to-mid-season reblooming spider with bright red blooms that are 10 inches wide on 40-inch tall scapes.

The award-winning “Wild Horses” is simply gorgeous – 7-inch eyezone-patterned blooms in pastel yellow with a deep purplish halo on 37-inch tall scapes.

Daylilies will grow in most soils, but thrive in soil enriched with compost. Once established, they don’t require extra watering if summer rains periodically give the ground a good soaking. Spring fertilizing is recommended.

Divide clumps that become overgrown, and it will revitalize the plant. Wait until blooms are finished, but you’ll need time for divisions to establish roots before the snow flies. You’ll need a sharp spading fork and serrated-blade knife.

Dig, divide and transplant on the same day, if possible. Dig holes in advance, so you can lift, divide and replant quickly and efficiently.

Cut back outer foliage, keeping new leaves in the center of fan. Loosen soil around the clump with the spading fork, far enough out to avoid skewering tubers. Work around the perimeter until the plant is freed, and you can lift it with as many roots attached as possible.

Wash off soil. If the clump is large, divide it in half. Then base divisions on placement of fans. Discard damaged growth. Keep one to four healthy fans and roots in each division.

Plant immediately, or cover divisions with moist soil or damp cloth. Mound soil in the center of each hole and set the division on top, spreading the roots around it. Backfill with soil, covering the crown with about an inch of soil, tamping lightly.

Water well and mulch lightly, leaving the crown uncovered. Mulching prevents heaving during winter’s freezing and thawing cycles.

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