Lilies – By Mark Govan, Host “Florida Gardening”

Heat can be a killer for many of our garden plants and as our daily temperatures continue to climb into the ninety degree range you may have seen your tomato plants withering, your impatiens drooping, and your begonias looking pale. How would you like to try a few garden plants that can take the heat and still give you a wonderful bouquet of flowers? Well this week I want to share with you a few plants that I have found that are relatively care free and will continue to grow year after year with minimum maintenance. This week we are going to talk about Daylilies and Agapanthus.
 

            Daylilies are a great plant for home gardens (Photo above by Michael Patrick) because of their colorful blossoms and wide usage in the garden. Some daylilies grow in the full sun while others grow in filtered sunlight. Lighter colored varieties like the full sun to give the best show while the darker colors prefer to have some filtered afternoon shade. Daylilies planted in heavy shade will become weak and spindly so make sure you plant yours in the appropriate area.

            Selecting your daylilies is a personal choice. Color, growth habits, early or late blooming, dormant, or evergreen varieties are all choices you will need to make when designing your garden. I like to have both early and late blooming varieties mixed together to extend the blooming season in each area I plant. Flower size and shape can also be a decision you will have to make. Most flowers are five to six inches across but there are some that are ten inches across. If your nursery does not carry the variety you like do not hesitate to go online to purchase your plants. Plants.com and daylily societies all sell plants over the internet and daylilies are very easy to start from small plants.

            You can plant daylilies anytime of year and most nurseries carry several cultivars you can choose from. If you add some compost or peat and perlite to the planting area you can be assured your plants will respond well for you. If I am preparing a new bed for these plants I will add about four inches of a good potting soil mixed into the existing soil with a shovel for best results. I also like to add a little fertilizer at this time just to have the nutrients available once I install the new plants. Even though daylilies multiply quickly in the soil, I like to plant mine about twenty inches apart. I use one gallon starter plants from the local nursery and I usually like to clump at least seven to ten plants in one area to get the full effect. A layer of mulch over the top will help keep your plant moist in the summer heat. After planting make sure you water well to remove any air gaps in the soil.

            Once your daylilies go into bloom or your plants grow large enough you can start propagating your plants. Look for “proliferations”, these are small plants that grow on the flower stalk itself. These small plants can be separated from the mother plant and used to grow a new plant. You can also separate your plants by division once a good sized clump has developed. All you have to do is to pull apart the plant and separate the small plantlets growing from the base. You can either put these into small containers to transplant later or put them into another part of the garden. If you would like to start your plants from seed all you need to do is to plant your freshly harvested seed into a small pot with peat and perlite, then water them. Put the pots in the shade and wait for the new plants to start growing. Do not forget to water your new plants regularly. Once the plants are about eight inches in height you can put them in the ground.

            Agapanthus or the Lily of the Nile is another great plant I highly recommend for the garden. Not only will you love their blue, violet, or white blossoms but their dense root systems will help stabilize or hold the soil on banks or slopes in the garden. I use agapanthus as a border in my garden because when not in bloom it makes an attractive border plant and is relatively low growing. Once the blooms start to grow, they become a focal point of the garden. (Even without blooms they make beautiful filler plants)

            Just like the daylily, agapanthus does best if the soil is enriched with a peat and perlite mixture worked well into the soil. Additions of compost will also help make the soil better and give you better performing plants for the garden. Agapanthus can be purchased at most local garden centers and when spaced about two feet apart, they will grow large clumps within a year or two. Agapanthus will do best when planted in the full morning sun but they like to have their roots shaded in the afternoon. Be sure to irrigate the plants so they do not dry out.

            Agapanthus flowers come in light blue, dark blue or white colors and will normally bloom from early spring to late summer. Some varieties of agapanthus will lose their leaves in the winter while others will keep their leaves all year long. I like to trim the older leaves off in early spring to allow new leaves to be produced and give the garden that crisp look.  

            For those of you that would like to use this plant as a potted plant I will let you know they do very well in a pot. In fact over time as the plant grows you will be able to divide the plant into many small plants to utilize in other places in the garden. Once the plants are large enough and blooming has finished all you have to do is to remove the plant from the pot. Separate the individual plants from the mother plant and then you can start these in small one gallon containers until they are big enough to transplant into the garden. Make sure you use a good potting soil to start these transplants as this will help the plants grow very quickly.

            Neither daylilies nor agapanthus are prone to many pest problems so as long as your plants are watered properly you should have little problems with these plants in the garden. Not only will you enjoy growing these plants you will appreciate the color show in the spring and summer. Each week I try to give you information I have found from growing the plants I talk about. If you have problems that I do not talk about or if you have questions which I did not answer, feel free to tune in to my live radio broadcast every Sunday on 970WFLA or email me at mark@abc-pestcontrol.com. Good Luck and Thank You for your support and until next time, remember without plants we wouldn’t be here!

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