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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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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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