On Gardening: Wild Irish daylily continues to mesmerize

By Norman Winter

 

Tribune News Service


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This is my fourth year to be watching our American Hemerocallis Display Garden, and each year the selection wild Irish catches my eye like few other daylilies.

Each year, I post it on our Facebook page, and the hits, views and likes come pouring in. It’s no wonder that an Internet search finds it readily available from numerous sources.

Wild Irish was released in 2004, and in daylily years, that is like ancient history. Think about when you get an email. You promise yourself you’ll respond, but in just days it is covered up by countless others. That is the way it is in the world of daylily hybridizing.

So for Wild Irish to have a shelf life of over a dozen years says something about its showy blooms and quality performance. The fact that I’ve been drooling over it for four seasons also says something.

According to the American Hemerocallis Society, Wild Irish is a tetraploid with scapes or stalks that reach 28 inches in height, producing a bud count of 18, which open into glorious 5 1/2 inch flowers. I’ll admit I added the editorial adjective glorious as the blooms show off deep burgundy, with gold edge above yellow-green throat. If that wasn’t enough, consider it is fragrant, evergreen and a re-bloomer.

Wild Irish was hybridized by Gaskin Daylilies in Nashville, Georgia. A couple of other dazzling selections in our garden that originated with their family are Christmas cotton and phantom of Gascone.

A visit to their website, gaskindaylilygarden.com, will most likely stun you with the incredible cultivars developed over the last decade. There are so many daylilies to know and enjoy. While the Gaskin family is in Georgia, know that there are most likely wonderful daylily hybridizers near you.

Daylilies require at least six hours of direct sunlight each day for best performance. Best results are obtained from raised beds rich in organic matter. Almost every problem phone call I used to get on daylilies, other than a few insects, originated with daylilies planted in soggy soils.

Be sure and add a good layer of mulch to hold moisture, keep the soil cool and prevent weeds. I am a pine straw nut for mulch, but I have to admit that a layer of pine bark mulch around a daylily loaded with blooms is a wonderful sight.

Daylilies are best planted in the early spring or fall, although container-grown plants can be planted throughout the growing season with outstanding success. So you can shop while they are blooming and pick the color and form that is most appealing.

To keep energy being put into flower production, keep seed pods picked off and feed with a complete and balanced fertilizer every four to six weeks. It is also very important to remove any diseased foliage if it develops during the long summer.

Perhaps you haven’t tried daylilies because the flowers only last a day. Remember, each scape or flower stalk has many buds and these open in a series, giving you beauty for not only days but weeks and even months if they repeat.

Even though our bed is dedicated as an American Hemerocallis Display Garden, we incorporate other perennial partner plants to add color and interest when the daylilies are out of season. Try using Blue Fortune agastache that sends up dozens of blue bottle-brush-like flowers, purple coneflowers, gloriosa daisies and spikey blue salvias.

I hope you take the opportunity to visit and shop for daylilies at your favorite garden center or perhaps a daylily farm and see what has transpired in this favorite of perennials.

 

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