Saturday, February 19, 2011

Daylily Planting

These are some daylily seeds that a friend gave me last year that I never got around to planting.  Daylilies not only make pretty flowers, they also make really beautiful seeds.  I'm sure it's the pregnancy talking, but I really thought about eating these.

The same friend gave me some of these seeds the year before and I did plant them, and now they are happily situated in a small patch of perennials at the front end of my new garden bed.  The thing about planting daylily seeds is that it just takes a lot of faith.  Daylilies are not very self-fertile, so there is no guarantee that many of the seeds you collect are viable.  Many sources say that the seeds must be stratified before planting, and they are unlikely to bloom for at least a year after planting.  (Mine really weren't full size for about a year and a half and still haven't bloomed, though I have to admit they were pretty neglected - see below.)  Then, the seeds that do develop into mature plants and bloom may or may not look anything like the plant that you harvested them from.  Some will be gorgeous, and some will just be a disappointment.  Basically, planting daylilies from seed is a job for optimists.

Fortunately, once they are planted they are almost carefree.  I stratified my first batch for three weeks by wrapping them in a damp paper towel inside a baggie in my refrigerator.  After that I put them in 4" nursery pots, and set them outside (they were planted a little later in the year than these ones, but not much).  After several weeks three finally came up.  After several months I moved the ones that had sprouted to gallon-sized nursery pots and let them sit next to my back door until sometime late last summer.  I think I watered them three times in a year and a half, and all the ones that made it to transplant size lived.

This year I was a little less patient and decided not to stratify.  I soaked the seeds for a couple days to soften the coat, then put them in moist potting soil on my kitchen counter.  I have to say this is strictly an experiment, and a lousy one at that.  We'll see how they come out - I guess I'm feeling optimistic!

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