I Hate Daylilies

echinaceamaniac(7)October 9, 2011

They don't bloom long and the foliage is so ugly. They take up too much space and don't look good long. I am going to rip them all out and replace with something that looks better. Out of all the plants I grow these are the ones that annoy me the most. Why in the world are they so popular?

Maybe I could replace them with Agastache. I have been very impressed with how long they look good. They are blooming again now!

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Good, this can become part of a popular series, along with "I Hate Hostas", "I Hate Echinaceas" etc.

I am not hugely enamored with daylilies, certainly nowhere near the enthusiasm of some people (like the well-known Connecticut gardener whose daylily border has been featured in numerous gardening articles, and who acknowledged spending an hour a day during the blooming season deadheading her plants to remove the mush-puppies or whatever term she used to describe the faded blooms).

I have several daylilies, including a large clump of "Chicago Apache" which for several years has been hidden behind a rose planting and which really needs to be moved. There's also Stella D'Oro (which any real daylily fancier would turn her nose up at) but which rebloomed nicely this year for a change. I don't fuss over my plants much and should really shear them to ground level after flowering, which results in a fresh batch of foliage which looks good the remainder of the growing season.

When mixed with other perennials daylilies have a place. I can see not appreciating mass plantings, which exhibit the problems typically seen when gardeners are focused too much on flower color and form and ignore other aspects of what makes a good garden plant.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 12:41PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I don't *hate* them, but I don't particularly like them, either. IMO, mass plantings of daylilies demonstrate a lack of creativity on the part of the gardener but I'll acknowledge that a few intermixed into a border/bed can and often do look nice. I don't have any daylilies, though - they just don't do it for me...

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 1:15PM
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My friend is 94, and she has over a hundred daylilies in her backyard. She is still planting new varieties. I have a few but I cut them to the ground after they bloom, because I too hate the foliage.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 1:57PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I have a few :), I usually cut them to the ground after flowering and then have clumps of fresh green leaves for the rest of the season, this year I didn't and they look down right ugly. I'm thinking it's time to pick out a few favorites, keep those and give the rest away.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 2:00PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

It is certainly nice to know I am not alone in my [mounting] dislike of daylilies, especially since they seem like one of the general favorite plants of today. To start with, I am not completely taken with the general look, shape, and flowers of daylilies. Then add the fact that they take up so much room and look like a rat's nest soon after blooming makes me close to hating them too. This year I disliked them even more because most of mine are at their 'mature' stage and look even worse now. Just thinking of having to dig up and divide those big beasts makes me cringe all the more. Only thing that keeps me from chucking them out is that I think I would miss the bit of color they add during thier bloom time- plus I have tried to pair other perennials with the ones I have now to make nice combos. Not sure what I would replace the daylilies with if I got rid of them...

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 2:01PM
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Well, I am not a fan of Day Lilies either, but they're so reliable that they act as backup plants when I don't have time to tend to the yard.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 3:04PM
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I like bright red and orange ones, as there are not many other perennials blooming in these colours in July. The rest of the colours are not necessary, they can be replaced by other perennials. Especially the pink and dirty violet ones are superfluous.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 4:53PM
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I haven't given up on them yet--in fact, I added seven new ones this year, all either bright, cheery, cherry red or deep purple so they'd pop, mixed in the flowerbeds with other perennials. Most of the ones growing here are pastel/light-colored and just don't add much interest. The foliage on a few of them does look ratty after they bloom but I stuff my beds full with things that have interest at different times throughout the season. I'm hoping the crappy DL foliage will be obscured...eventually...by things I've added that take center stage at just the right time.

Just for the record, any Stella d'Oro types got ripped out soon after I started gardening here. I carelessly tossed the clumps down under the dogwood trees on the boundary; didn't even dig holes for them. If they survive, so be it.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 6:57PM
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Sorry, but I'm a pretty big fan. I'm not obsessed, I don't go out of my way to collect them, don't even know the names. What I did do about 6-8 years ago for my mother, more out of a lack of knowing what else to get an 80 year old woman with everything she needs in life, was to order the "I want it all collection" from the Oakes Daylily catalog -- it was about 200 total plants, so a tremendous assortment of colors and forms. They are extremely beautiful in July, and she gets a big kick out of seeing all of the different colors, sizes, shapes, and forms. And, we'll never run out of daylilies, with their tremendous potential for exponential increase.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 7:20PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Some people really go crazy over them. The Daylily forum is one of the busiest on Gardenweb. I like Daylilies ok, they look pretty in various combos of perennials, and they're rugged, drought-tolerant, and the voles don't like them (so far). The foliage does look crappy after blooming, but with all the rain we've had, and cooler weather, the foliage has made a comeback.

I agree that a large bed of just daylilies gets boring real quick when they're not blooming. Even when blooming, if there's too many different colors they start to look cacophonous.

I started Hemerocallis from seeds this year, that's fun. I can't wait to see what the blooms look like.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 8:37PM
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*gasps after arriving from daylily forum*
I'm not sure why I love them so much. I love the huge flowers, the ruffles, and the the patterns and such you can get on the flowers especially since I can't do tropicals. There's a huge variety of colors, and don't get mildew.
I really do try to be picky and choose ones that have longer blooming potential and a flurry of blooms when flowering so there are more blooms, BUT I can totally understand hatred of the foliage. I don't particularly love it either, but I grow most of mine in containers and try to mix annuals and perennials for when they're not in bloom.

And now I'll slink away before people start throwing tomatoes ;)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 9:00PM
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punman(Zone 3)

I have about 10% of my flower garden in daylilies. Half of those are in the alley where they survive with neglect and sometimes abuse. I know all the reasons people don't like them but the pros for me: hardy in zone 3 (I have hardly lost any), don't spread too rapidly, and believe it or not, I don't mind the foliage - kind of acts like a grass.
No mass plantings for me but nice interspersed amongst things.
Now - tulips I don't like - can't stand the foliage afterwards, but I find the daylily foliage stays nice until September where I live.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 9:23PM
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Maryl zone 7a

I have to go along with Crackingtheconcrete. I really like them. But this is coming from a person whose first love is roses. By comparison daylilies are marvelously easy care plants. This year's weather in our area was horrid. Triple digit temperature for months on end (that's right, not just a few days or weeks, but months), and no rain to speak of. Daylilies took it in stride. They are actually a very good drought tolerant plant. And if you haven't seen all the new "faces" of daylilies that have come out since Stella De Oro then you are in for a surprise. There are people posting on the daylily forum who are still getting occasional blooms even at this late date. As for the dividing part, no one likes that, but you can always pot them. That makes dividing easy peasy. As with all plants do your research and ask opinions on the ones that suite your area and your taste. Daylilies may not be for everyone but they sure beat out alot of other plants that I've tried out over many many years of gardening.....Maryl

Here is a link that might be useful: The faces of newer daylilies

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 1:29AM
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I hate them too...and they're invasive and have the most horrific root system that virtually takes over every inch of soil.
I do container gardening so daylily roots are really an issue and they spread like wildfire. Not to mention the daily care they need when they start to bloom just to look
decent. If you miss a few days you have hours of cleaning to do. They're a mess. I got rid of every single one this year. I am replacing them with sedum autumn joy. The total opposite in every way. Ah the joy of sedum.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 5:46AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Well, Deer love them!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 6:10AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

They are not my favorite plant(I don't think I could pick a favorite)but I like them. They need to be used where they are most appreciated, as a background not as a destination plant. Most of mine were given to me and I do not have the names. My favorite is blooming now, here and in my garden downtown. I will divide both, as it looks good all summer, as well as the spring and fall blooming cycles, and I want more of them. Al

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 9:25AM
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Nevermore44 - 6a

I have a handful. The generic standards that I have are slowly being removed. They throw out the flush green growth in the spring and then (even if I keep them watered and happy, they turn into the rats nest look (I like that term for them!). They then send up some blooms that look okay⦠I then get sick of them and hack them to the ground.. And they then send up a second round of flush growth that looks good till the frosts hit them. I think next year, as soon as I see them looking a bit bad.. I will hack them back. I don't think it's really possible to kill them anyway. When we first moved in I had thrown some down our back hill that sits in the backing sun and dry cruddy soil.. And low and behold⦠they lived and rooted.

I have ventured away from the standards and they seem to work much much better for for. They are slower growing, but they don't rat out in early summer. When they do begin to have some brown leaves, it much easier to thin and remove compared to the dense smaller varieties.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 9:29AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Missmini, you must be talking about the common orange daylily, Hemerocallis fulva. They are the only ones I know that spread by runners. They're very common around here, growing along stone walls and such, and they look nice and rustic when they're blooming.

All the others (that I'm aware of) are clump forming. And I think they're easy to dig and divide. You should try a huge Miscanthus or Joe Pye Weed. Daylilies are easy peasy.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 11:54AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

The double flowering 'Apricot Beauty' is also a runner. Terrene you are so right about Joe Pye Weed, we finally used a maddock to decrease the size of my clump.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 12:38PM
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wren_garden(zone 5b/6)

I have about 90 mixed in each of 12 perennial beds. They are in color themes and color combos with other perennials, roses and shrubs. None stand alone or are massed alone. they are all in 3 to 6 foot deep perennial beds.With early, mid and late season bloomers I have 2 months of bloom from start to finish. Most perennials have their ugly season. Have enough going on in rotation through the whole season within each bed and no one plant spoils the garden when it comes time for their retirement after bloom. It's a balancing act but with a lot of reward.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 3:51PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Well, I like them! I think they are easy, low-maintenance, and come in a wide range of colors that really complement other blooms in the garden, and a range of bloom times to boot. I have maybe a dozen different ones and really love all the ones I have.

I even love the plain old orange ones. Nothing says "country" like a run of orange daylilies along a stone wall, near an old oak tree, especially at sunset. Aaahhh....


    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 6:51PM
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You nailed it, Dee, with your "nothing says country" visual at the end of your
post. . .one of the joys of driving around the New England countryside in early
summer are these wild, abandoned clumps of "ditch-lilies" as you round every

In the garden, however, I can see people's reservations. . .over quite a number
of years in my various gardens, I have learned to be highly selective, somtimes deliberating grouping complimentary colors together for a kaleidoscopic effect, other times highlighting a single exceptional specimen (such as the double 'Madge Cayce', or the stunning 'Frans Hals'). Over time,
I have learned that it is important to group like-sized blooms together -
there just seems to be greater homgeneity that way - but that a mix of
differing flowering heights and/or times is equally important. To me,
daylilies are a challenge, and I'm still refining the way I use them. . .I'm
never afraid to try a new one and pass it on to someone else if it doesn't
please me. To date, my favorite collection of daylilies is a grouping of
late summer giants, all at, or close to, six feet tall. . .it's hard to hate a
stand of H. 'Autumn Minaret' gently swaying in the breeze!

In my experience, too many gardeners assume that because Hemerocallis
are very tough plants, they can basically neglect them; you still might get
some bloom, but nothing like the response if given superior soil, extra
fertilizer in Spring, and extra watering attention in Spring all the way up
until bloom time. As with most plants, giving them that specific extra
care can reap huge rewards; I've even experimented with two identical
plants in different locations, ignoring one and pampering the other - the
difference was astonishing ! Yes, the leaves can look pretty tatty by summers'
end - which is why I always cut them back soon after they have finished
blooming, resulting in handsome fresh growth until frost. In addition,
I tend to interplant my daylilies with liriope, so there's some other healthy
green (and purple bloom) after the daylilies are done.

Finally, if you ever get a chance, go visit the New York Botanical Gardens'
daylily walk - and honestly tell me you "hate" it ! For anyone interested,
here's a link to my favorite daylily supplier: their website is one of the
best designed I've ever seen. . .and might even make you fall back in love!

Here is a link that might be useful: Bloomingfield Farm

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 11:49PM
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Not a fan either. My husband hates plants that are too showy, and he's gotten me sensitized to the overly gaudy flowers like daylilies.

And I LOVE Agastache!!!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 11:03AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Ooh, Carl, you almost had me! I clicked on the link and then decided to go no further than the home page! You enabler, you!

pbl, your description of daylilies as overly gaudy intrigued me. I think of them as fairly simple blooms. Maybe because they are just so familiar, I think of them as simple, but I never thought of gaudy as an adjective for them. Funny how we all look at the same plant and have different opinions of it!


    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 2:42PM
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perennialfan273(zone 5)

What time of year do they bloom for you?? If we have this information then we can suggest a suitable replacement.

I'm not a huge fan of daylilies either, but mostly because we have a lot of patrinia growing wild around here. Also, our summers are far from mild, so they are quite prone to leaf scorching. To top it all off, this beautiful plant holds a NASTY surprise. I can't stand those ugly stems they get after they bloom. It just creates more work to be done in autumn (speaking of which...).

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 8:01PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

I am one that like them. I guess you have to like them and research and experiment to find the ones that are right for the garden situation that you want.

They are so easy and reliable and so many varieties I can only think that maybe because there are so many that it is to hard for some to find the one that would work for them in there garden.

When I am looking for a plant that will bloom from June-Sept I look for a daylily that will bloom within that time I need color. LOL

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 10:46PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

They didn't used to be one of my favorites, but they're inching their way up the list. I'm tired of fussy plants, plants that wilt if they go 3 days without rain, plants that need hours of deadheading, plants that get blackspot, plants that die if it rains too much or not enough, plants that flop (ESPECIALLY plants that flop!), perennials that only last a few years, and plants that reseed to weedy proportions.

Daylilies are low maintenance, non-fussbudget plants for people like me who don't have the time and energy to spend hours every week out in the garden. When they're finished blooming, cut back the foliage and fresh foliage will grow back and look good for the rest of the season.

I have a wide variety of plants in my beds and daylilies are interspersed in every bed except the hosta beds. I love that they're low maintenance. And when clumps get mature and have a dozen or two blooms on any given day during their bloom period, they're a sight to behold!


    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 11:04PM
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Campanula UK Z8

mmm, i love the early fresh foliage - a real harbinger of spring. I also love the fragrant yellows such as the basic lilioasphodelus and cultivars such as Golden Chimes and Marion Vaughn. By and large, hemerocallis are nowhere near as popular in the UK as in the US but they are still a plant I would not be without.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 1:56PM
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I'm on the love daylilies side of the fence. I'm not a fan of hostas, lol.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 7:05PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I love daylilies and hostas. I also like old fashioned bleeding heart even though the foliage looks like carp when the weather heats up. A quick cut back and all is well again. Brunnera foliage also looks ugly after bloom, again a trim to the tattered leaves and new growth looks good the rest if the season. I guess if I wanted a garden with no maintenance I could put out silk flowers. lol Most daylilies stay in their place very well. Though I removed all of the fulva from my yard in the right place they are gorgeous. Who ever said Mother Nature was neat?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 8:59PM
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I cut my daylily foilage back after blooming for the first time this year, and that did help the "rat's nest effect" quite a bit. But mine were well on their way to rat's nest while they were blooming. No doubt because I wasn't providing a lot of extra care...but that was irritating! I have decided they are definitely not best used at the front of a border (which, now that I think about it, is where all of mine are placed - oops).

I weeded out one this fall, and next year I will probably make a short list and keep only the ones I absolutely love.

Blueberry Breakfast will be on the short list - it is reblooming right now! :) It can stay.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 10:11PM
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Daylilies really do work well under the right circumstances.

*You can plant them in the back of the garden where you want a long-lasting splash of color but the foliage is covered by other plants.

*Some older varieties don't bloom as much, as large or as long as some newer hybrids.

*They do well in dry, poor soils with low-maintenance, and thrive in intense heat, which is why you see a lot of local municipalities growing them in parks and on medians.

*In my experience they bloom MUCH better in hot dry conditions and the foliage-to-flower ratio is improved in those tough environments where other plants do not do well.

...So get them away from the lawn sprinklers and put them in a dry, sunny neglected corner; then you'll be impressed with how much better they perform there.

*They multiply rapidly so can be used to fill a large space for cheap over the years - another reason I think municipalities like them for public areas.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 12:20AM
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perennialfan273(zone 5)

If you like the look of daylilies, you should consider using oriental lilies instead. Many of them have a fragrance (I HIGHLY recommend casablanca), they don't multiply rapidly, and they don't look ugly after they're finished blooming.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 1:55AM
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dandy_line(3B (Brainerd, Mn))

Thanks for starting this topic. Daylilies rate right up there along with Hostas as being the dumbest plants on the planet.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 7:14PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Perennialfan, I agree that oriental lilies are gorgeous, but those of us who live in the region infested by the Lily Leaf beetle find it difficult to grow Lilies without pesticides or constant hand-picking. And they look like real crap if you don't do something about the beetle.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 7:55PM
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Campanula UK Z8

they are REAL crap if you do nothing about the lily beetle. Rubber gloves ahoy.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 11:50AM
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remy and dandy_line you took the thought right out of my brain ie there are very few hostas that ring my bell. I have one here and one there but a mass planting ie more than two ;) I never understand.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 5:46PM
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tepelus(6a SW MI)

Whereas, daylilies and hostas are my favorite plants. We all have different tastes. And breeding daylilies is fun; you never know what you'll get from a cross.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 7:15PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I have to disagree about the oriental lilies. I mean, I really do LOVE lilies, but to me, they look even worse after blooming. At least dayliles have foliage that is somewhat grass-like and looks like a plant. A lily has that one stem with no flower, and it's so obvious that it's over and done with and now we're just waiting for it to go away, lol. (By the way, the fragrance is not so great to everyone. Casablanca is one of the most gorgeous lilies I've ever seen, but I plant it far away from the house because the smell is just overpowering to me... Hmm, perhaps a separate thread to debate lilies, lol?)

God, I love hostas!


    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 8:45PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Dee I totally agree about casablanca. Far, Far away in the garden it is great. It makes my head hurt so bad if I smell it up close.

Growing any plant takes research and the proper placement in the garden. I grow Asiatic and Oriental lilies, Late Spring bulbs with the daylilies. It works like this......
-May-June.....Daylily leaves grow beautiful in the Spring. Daffodils and Asiatic -Lilies begin the bloom show.
-June - July Daylilies Bloom, Globe Allium Bulbs
-July - August - Oriental/LA Orinental lilies bloom. re-blooming daylilies blooming

All and all the daylilies are the backbones because of the pretty grass like foliage to hide the lily stems and they support the lilies so they do not fall over when they bloom and the daylily foliage hides the stems of the lilies after they bloom.

While all this blooming is going on I have the daylily leaves to hide the stem of the lilies and it looks like the daylily is in constant bloom but with different colors. LOL

But to do this you have to find the right daylily. There are many daylily leaves in my garden that still look good even now after a couple of cool nights.

Since the original poster did not say what daylily they are growing I have to say.....this plan is not going to work if they are growing ditchlily and think all daylilies are ditchlilies.

I use to say I hated hostas because I thought they were all green, green and white, and white and green. I had no idea how many different shades of blues, yellows even some red stem hostas were out there. Then you find there are different sizes and frilly leaves and, and..... Now I cannot get enough Hostas. LOL

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 6:37PM
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I doubt I'll ever have a deep love affair with daylilies, especially washed-out pinkish and buff ones, but I do find them really useful and hard-working during their prime. Plus, they're really reliable, and they're hardly the only perennials that start looking less than great after their bloom time. I even think daylily beds look great out in rural, open spaces. But for me, with my small lot, they're a nice midsummer blast in a mixed bed rather than a main attraction.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 2:13PM
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"I use to say I hated hostas because I thought they were all green, green and white, and white and green."

I have both kinds of hostas - the green one and the variegated one.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 9:13AM
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Connie K

I'm not a big fan of daylilies either, but I'm in the process of moving mine to the back of our property. I am using their growth habit as a substitute for mulch. Their leaves keep the weeds down, and DH and I don't kill ourselves trying to cart the mulch all the way to the back of the yard.

I'm using red hot pokers the same way.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 7:47PM
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I love them when they're blooming, but agree about the ugliness afterwards; when you say you cut them back after blooming, do they bloom the following year? Mine look pretty bad in the heat, but perk up when Fall arrives.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 9:44PM
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