Easy Asters and Durable Daylilies
In the plant world, mid-summer is when the going gets tough and
the tough get going. Most flowers have spent their colorful
energy and retreated into dull dormancy till next year. But
right about now is when certain heat-loving blooms go plum crazy.
The Asters and Daylilies are big bloomers during hot summer days.
The Asteraceae, or daisy family, is a big, boisterous clan with
21,000 species. Among others, it includes the giant sunflower, bright yellow
goldenrod, popular chrysanthemum, and the lowly ragweed, hated by
allergy sufferers. Most are native plants, ubiquitous in
temperate regions of North America. The African daisy is a
popular import with a huge following, often cultivated indoors
because of its tropical nature. Some of the easiest to grow and
appreciate are the annuals--the pot-grown marigolds (Caladium),
China asters and floss flower. Many nurseries are intensifying
propagation and experimentation, specializing in various species.
For example, 15 Florida growers deal in nothing but caladiums.
You can stick bulbs in the ground and leave them there in warmer
zones, or north of zone 7 cultivate them as annuals. Greenhouses
are experimenting with wild colors for marigolds, so it's not
just your basic yellow anymore.
The daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) are hardy perennials with 2,800
varieties. Their one-to-three foot stalks support blooms that
just keep on blooming. Although each individual flower lasts a
day or so, more blooms take its place to create a show that lasts
for weeks. Another advantage is their rapid growth and
reproduction. Two-fan clumps can multiply into 30 fans within
five years. Their long, blade-like leaves and curled petals are
a distinctive touch planted in groups or blended into a mixed
Daylilies prefer full sun and well-drained soil in zones 3
through 9. Don't plant too deeply, or the plants may rot. After
successful planting, your only job for years to come will be
watering, fertilizing once in the spring, and thinning and
dividing these long-lived, prolific performers. Your best bet is
to plant a mixture of early, mid-, and late season cultivars, in
groups of at least three for full visual impact, or long drifts.
Remember to deadhead the spent blooms to stimulate additional
Sources used to create this article include Country Living