If you’re looking for a flower that’s easy to grow and different from what your neighbors have in their gardens, try one of the 1,100 varieties of daylilies available at Lasting Dreams Daylilies, 6425 South Abbott Rd., Orchard Park.
If you need more variety, hang in there. Carol and Anthony Haj, owners of Lasting Dreams Daylilies, are working on hybridizing their own brand new varieties, too.
There are so many reasons to love daylilies. Topping the list is daylilies’ beauty and variety. Daylilies range in height from 12 inches to six feet. They get spectacular flowers with a vast range of sizes, shapes and colors. There are more than 70,000 registered varieties of registered daylilies.
Daylilies can provide color throughout the summer. Early daylilies come up in late June; middle daylilies, mid-July, and late daylilies, the end of July. Reblooming daylilies can get a second stem of blooms, which prolongs the length of time that the plant will flower.
If you don’t like watering, daylilies are a great choice because they’re drought tolerant. Drought is becoming more of a concern for Western New York gardeners because our climate patterns are changing. (See how climate change affects Western New York Gardens and how drought affects trees in our area.
When I visited Lasting Dreams Daylilies during the worst of last summer’s dry weather, I saw fields of healthy, beautiful, blooming daylilies– but the Hajes don’t water!
“We couldn’t water; we’re on a well,” Carol said. “This is the middle of a drought and this is how good they look. These are very drought-resistant plants.”
Another advantage is to daylilies is that Japanese beetles don’t like them.
Daylilies are actually edible, too.
“The lighter colors taste better,” Carol said. “The darker colors are spicier.”
Daylilies get their name because each flower lasts just one day. The scientific name, Hemerocallis, means “beauty for a day” in Greek. Each stem gets several blossoms, and as one blossom dies, a new one blooms.
Tip: You can pluck a daylily blossom and set it on a tabletop to display. It will look beautiful all day without water, said Carol.
There’s still plenty of time to plant daylilies. Carol tells people they can plant anytime from May through the end of September. She will plant into October, but she makes sure she waters the plants in very well and babies them so they will make it through the winter.
The plants the Hajes sell are field grown.
“All the plants live on my property for a year before I sell them,” she told me. “They go through the winter. I’ve got to be sure they’re going to bloom for you and grow for you.”
You can browse through the fields to see what appeals to you, and when you see a plant you like, Carol will dig it up for you. They also have plants already potted up, and you can look through a catalog to find a particular specimen. Lasting Dreams Daylilies is open for group tours and Carol can give an instructional talk there or at your venue.
She noted that if you let your hybrid daylily go to seed, the new plant won’t be the same as the parent. If you want a plant that looks like the parent, you have to transplant the baby plants.
Carol is working to expand the number of varieties by breeding her own and creating a variety that is worthy of being registered. The new plant can’t just be different from the parent plants; it must be brighter or bolder or bigger or in some way better, she explained. She aims to create new reblooming varieties with good branching so that the flowers are spread out. They should open well, the color should hold up in a light rain, and they shouldn’t “melt” or get mushy on a 90-degree day.
This year she planted about 3,000 new seeds that she will see bloom in a year or two. About 1,000 seedlings that she planted previously will bloom for the first time this year.
“I get up at 6 a.m. to see my babies,” said Carol Haj. “It’s the first time anyone has ever seen that flower bloom. It’s thrilling.”
Of those plants, perhaps plants will be selected to see how they bloom again next year. She hopes in the next three years to have a few new outstanding daylily varieties to sell.