Daylilies Versus Lilies

An ocean of orange brightens the side of the road during summer months. How could anything so bright and cheerful be termed a weed? The stalwart, hale and hardy flower that blooms in profusion is the common tiger lily. Not a true lily at all, but a hemerocallis, which means "day beauty" in Latin - hence the name. The bloom of the daylily lasts for just one day.

On the other side of the garden fence stands the proud and regal lily. The true lily is of the genus lilium. Although both the daylily and the true lily are similar in flower appearance, they are as different as a pauper and a princess.

The Daylily

Hemerocallis or daylilies are such hardy souls that planting them any time of the year isn't a problem. The best time, though, is spring or after they've finished blooming. Spade up a large enough area that the roots will not be cramped or broken but can fan out in all directions inside the deep hole. Add well-rotted manure, water, and cover lightly, tamping the soil down.

The daylily grows from sturdy roots that divide and conquer with exuberance. Plant a clump and within 3-4 years, a tight compact network of roots will be ready to be divided and transplanted. The daylily has so many flowers reaching out from the base that only living one day isn't a problem. There's always a nearby neighboring flower ready to take its place.

Plant daylilies in an area that receives at least six hours of sun each day, and if they're shaded some in the late afternoon, they won't mind a bit. When deciding the best location for your daylilies, make sure they’re not too close to large trees that will wick most of the moisture from the ground, leaving little for the darling delights. Daylilies don’t mind being neglected some, but they like an acidic soil with some organic matter spaded in for good measure. Keep them moist, but make sure their feet are not standing in water. Like most plants, daylilies do well in well drained beds.

When the daylily bursts forth in color, what a glorious sight they are, with loads of blooms nodding in summer breezes. An array of colors gives planters plenty of choices with apricot, peach, orange, red, yellows, lavender, purple and pink blooms. The trumpet blooms may have fringed or ruffled edges or clearly defined outlines of the flowers. Curved back petals, spider like, or flat all describe the various shapes of daylilies.

The Liliy

True lilies grace gardens with their elegant trumpets that splash the world with glorious fragrance. Less hardy than hemerocallis, lilies prefer to be doted upon and treated like the fine ladies they are. Lilies always sport six petals and wouldn't be seen without their accompanying six anthers. With blooms that last and last, lilies are a favorite among gardeners everywhere.

The most important rule when planting lilies is drainage. Lilies will quickly languish and die if their elegant feet are left standing in water. If raised beds grace your garden, there's no need to worry about drainage. Lilies prefer a rich soil and plenty of rotted manure or fertilizer to bring them to optimum health, but of you're gardening challenge is hard or clay soil, try mixing in perlite or sand to lighten the heavy earth.

Plant the bulbs in deep holes that are large enough to accommodate the bulb or bulbs with breathing room around each. Cover each bulb carefully leaving no air pockets. Water immediately - the water dampens the soil so it snuggles up to and around each bulb. Mark them with a stake and await their blessed arrival next year. Many believe that fall is the best time to plant lilies, and it's in the fall when lily societies will have their shows and sales. Buying bulbs from adoring fans at these shows ensures good quality bulbs from folks who know their lilies.

The pedigrees of lilies astound the world. The Asiatic hybrids bloom early and love the company of other flowers. Less fussy when it comes to cultivation, they don't mind bright sun or sharing the limelight. Everyone should be able to find a color that strikes them at the very core of their green thumb. Asiatic hybrids come in more colors than any other lily: pink, red, deep plum, orange and yellows. The petals can be turned back in a saucy curve, smiling at the sun with an upturned face, or peering out with a coquettish countenance.

The trumpet or Aurelian lily stands erect with a stately trumpet that announces to the world its regal presence in the garden. A well-known variety, the Aurelian lily blooms mid to late season in a range of colors and hues from white to yellows to pinks to apricots. Like all beauties of the world, some maintenance is required. They may become top heavy with large trumpets and need staking. When fall arrives in cold weather regions, mulch will blanket these lilies until spring awakens them.

If fussing and futzing around exquisite gems delights you, then growing the challenging Oriental Hybrids will delight you. Most people know this lily variety as the fragrant "Stargazer." Gorgeous and choosey, Oriental Hybrids don't fare well in hot summer areas, but when a gardener is so captivated, resisting is impossible. Choose a semi-shaded area, plant in slightly acidic humus rich soil, and water frequently. You may be surprised that you, too, can grow this magnificent lily.

Other varieties include the lusty Martagans, adorable little darlings that always glance downward and bloom on tall stems with whorls of leaves. American hybrids look like colorful spotted balloons on a stem with six anthers poking out provocatively. These lilies are indigenous flora to North America. Growing them outside the North American area may prove difficult. Species of lilies grow native to a specific place such as North America, Europe, and Asia. Small and delicate best describes them.

Both the daylily and the true lily will grace any garden with beauty, but it's up to the gardener to decide which plant best suits his garden and his temperament. The true lily takes a little more TLC, but the rewards are plentiful. The hemerocallis or daylily defies nature and toughs it out in some difficult growing conditions but can be tamed and grow lovely in gardens. Such a difficult decision to make... why bother? Grow both!

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