Calling All Daylily Lovers
I wrote a column about daylilies a few weeks ago and judging from the letters and emails I received there's a horde of Hemerocallis lovers out there. So I have good news for everyone who wanted to know where's the best place to buy daylilies. It's at Farmingdale State University on Route 110 in Farmingdale this Saturday, Aug. 19, at the Long Island Daylily Society's annual sale from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
I tell you this with confidence after spending the afternoon at Melanie Vassallo's house, where society members were busy cleaning, dividing, labelling and packaging hundreds of freshly unearthed daylilies. People started dropping off plants Tuesday and the volunteer assembly line will be cranking right up to sale time.
Melanie organized the American Hemerocallis Society's national convention on Long Island last month and says it was super. She tells me there should be at least 1,000 plants for sale. Everything from large-flowered varieties and miniatures to doubles and spiders. Red daylilies and pink daylilies and purple and melon and orange daylilies. Ruffled daylilies and double-flowered daylilies. Some of the varieties I saw being labelled were tangerine South Seas and red-tipped Spindazzle and violet-eyed Frandeen and pink Denali. And Holiday Song, which blends pink, coral and red and was hybridized by Long Island's own George Rasmussen, who won the President's Cup at the convention for one of his creations.
All the plants come straight from members' gardens so you know they're just right for our area and healthy as well. And they'll be bargain-priced -- no plant will cost more than $20.
A word of warning if you've never been to a daylily society sale. Expect a crowd. But don't expect to see flowering plants in nursery pots. Bloom-time is over. That's why the plants have been dug up and divided. What you'll see are clumps of roots with a couple of inches of trimmed foliage in plastic bags.
And don't be fooled -- foliage isn't the focus. Melanie gets to the root of the matter: "Given the choice of more top or more roots, go for the roots. The foliage will regrow." She suggests looking for divisions with two fans of growth coming from one root system. "On Long Island, daylilies grow two-to-one," she says, "so your plant with two fans will grow to have four."
And don't dilly dally over your new daylilies. If you can't plant right away, they'll be okay in a bucket of water for a few days. If you have daylilies of your own to divide, make sure you get digging before the end of September. You want to give your new plants plenty of time to get comfortable before winter's chill blows in.
Oh yes, expect to have fun at the sale. Society members will conduct a clinic with lots of hints about growing Hemerocallis. And if you see me there looking for bargains, please say hi. It's always nice to meet another daylily lover.