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Use All-American daylily winners in your garden
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
There are thousands of spectacular daylilies for sale, some even approaching the cost of my first car, but two reasonably priced selections you should search for are this year's All-American Daylily Selections, Buttered Popcorn and Persian Market.
Few things are prettier in the South than daylilies starting their annual show. Some daylilies bloom early, some mid-season and some late. According to the All-American Daylily Selection Council, these two are best described as blooming often and long. They bloom for more than 90 days, and perform well mass planted.
Buttered Popcorn is a golden beauty that resembles Stella d Oro in its nearly continuous blooming, but it has large, buttery golden blooms from mid-season through frost. These blooms sit atop scapes that reach 28 to 33 inches tall.
The foliage is lush and quickly reaches 24 inches tall with a spread of 30 inches, shading out competing weeds. This sturdy, spectacular perennial blooms an average of 97 days per year and is heat tolerant, cold hardy and disease resistant.
In the perennial garden, consider combining them with violet or blue flowers. Choice partners would be Homestead Purple verbena, Biloxi Blue verbena or New Wonder scaevola.
The second winner, Persian Market, is a large, showy salmon-pink variety with a rose halo. This robust performer produces loads of buds for an exceptionally long blooming season.
The blooms are 6 _ to 7 inches across and sit atop scapes that reach 25 to 30 inches tall. They float about 6 inches above the foliage for a dramatic presentation. Persian Market is a hardy variety, blooming an average of 90 days per year. It is easy to grow and does beautifully as a border, ground cover or container-grown specimen.
It, too, will look exceptional with blue flowers. In addition to the round blooms mentioned, consider spiky ones like salvias or angelonias. Also try with pastel yellow flowers like Moonbeam coreopsis.
Daylilies require at least six hours of direct sunlight each day for best performance. They prefer raised beds rich in organic matter. Other than a few insect problems, almost every problem call I get on daylilies originates with them planted in soggy soils.
Be sure to add a good layer of mulch to hold moisture, keep the soil cool and prevent weeds. My favorite mulch is pine straw, but I have to admit that a layer of pine bark mulch around daylilies like Buttered Popcorn and Persian Market is really striking.
Daylilies are best planted in the early spring or fall, although container-grown plants can be planted throughout the growing season with outstanding success. Keep seed pods picked off to keep energy focused on flower production. Since these are such prolific flower producers, feed with a complete and balanced fertilizer every four to six weeks.
There are more than 48,000 daylilies registered, and they are bred in at least 25 states by hundreds of individual hybridizers. The All-American Daylily Selection Council tests varieties for at least two years, and finalists are grown another three to five years.
There are now 14 hardy and beautiful daylilies that have won the coveted All-American designation. Look for Buttered Popcorn and Persian Market at local garden centers this spring.