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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 Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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