WASHINGTON -- If the last of your day lilies' petals have crumpled and dropped, do not give up on this most floriferous of plants.
There are other cultivars that you can still obtain and plant in this season, and some of them can go on blooming until frost.
Approximately 37,000 varieties have been registered, hundreds are commercially available and each is at least slightly different in characteristics, such as the hue of its throat, the height of its sturdy flower stalk or the length of its arching leaves. We also may go for fragrance and evening bloom. But if we are interested in a nonstop show, we need to inquire about the blooming season.
One day lily that blooms until the end of September is Hello Dolly, one of the best known and most widely available cultivars. The blooms are extra large, and the color is a vivid, rosy pink that changes in hue from soft pink to scarlet. The throat is flushed with gold-green. Another characteristic -- important to busy people who come home late -- is that the bloom stays open in the evenings.
The cultivar with a bloom staying open for 24 hours is Happy Returns. It can bloom as early as June but will go on with the show as late as October, qualifying as the day lily with the longest blooming season. The ruffled petals have that cheery lemon-yellow color so sought after in daffodils. Its parents are Stella d'Oro, one of the most famous of all day-lily hybrids, and Suzie Wong, another celebrity -- two cultivars that many day-lily enthusiasts will not be without. Happy Returns is compact, with stems only 18 inches tall. Its blooms are small but numerous.
While Stella d'Oro, a splendid golden yellow, is one of the champion bloomers of the day-lily world, its spent petals need to be removed for continuous flowering. Deadheading may extend the blooming season of other cultivars as well, especially those that develop seed heads, a habit that varies from cultivar to cultivar, even from plant to plant.
Another Stella d'Oro descendant is Black-Eyed Stella. It offers drama, with a dark eye and golden blooms, a compact habit and a double blooming season in June and July and again in September and October.
Moving over to the color red, once rare among day lilies, Ruby Throat is a brilliant choice. It keeps on blooming from early July to late August, even into September. But it shuts down after dark.
Reliably hardy and drought-tolerant, day lilies grow out of bulbs that keep increasing. The plants are sold in large plastic containers or dug up in nurseries that grow them. If planted right away in reasonably good soil and watered generously, they can bloom the following day.
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