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Dividing daylilies really adds up

Daylilies are beautiful and easy-care plants, but they do requires dividing every three to five years. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

Create new plants and more impact with this cheap trick

For some plants, division adds up to amazing multiplication. Daylilies are a case in point. This popular perennial benefits from periodically dividing the tangled tubers and separating them into new plants.

Fall is the best time to divide daylilies. Done every three to five years, this process can create long rows or masses of these easy-care, drought-tolerant colorful flowers.

It's also the cheapest way to expand daylily impact in your spring and summer garden. One clump can produce three or more new clumps that will bloom the next spring. Over time, division really adds up.

No one knows that more than the folks at the Amador Flower Farm, home to 14 acres of daylilies in about 1,200 varieties. (Of those, nearly 1,000 are offered for sale.)

Making a memorable impact, more than 200,000 Stella De Oro daylilies -- the well-known "golden star" -- line the property's fence. Millions more plants fill the fields in long, labeled rows under massive oaks.

Located in Shenandoah Valley in the heart of Amador County's wine country, the popular Plymouth landmark is hosting its fall pumpkin patch and other October fun while the daylily fields wrap up their bloom season.

According to owner Jeanne Deaver, daylilies come in three different foliage categories: Evergreen, semi-evergreen and dormant or deciduous.

The evergreen varieties keep their leaves green and growing year round as long as temperatures stay above freezing.  Semi-evergreen plants tend to shrink back, losing some leaves but staying above ground and visible in winter. Dormant or deciduous daylilies die back to the ground each fall. They can survive temperatures below zero, but also need winter chill to perform well.

To divide daylilies, dig up the whole clump. Remove any browned or dead foliage. With gloved hands, work apart the tubers and fat roots; they will naturally separate, breaking apart with their foliage attached. Use a sharp knife or garden shears to cut the clump if necessary, but keep any foliage attached; those leaves will be the new plants.

Daylily leaves form fans that sit atop the soil surface with the roots and tubers just below the soil. That's how they should be transplanted, too. In creating new plants, keep at least two new fans per clump.

After transplanting, water well. Then, monitor the new plants through the fall and winter to make sure the clumps don't completely dry out, irrigating once a week if no rain. The rewards of this effort come next spring -- and many years to come.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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