Arachnidan Trap daylily (Photo/Zora Ronan)
I’ve been receiving calls and emails about Zora Ronan’s upcoming open gardens this weekend and hearing from people who plan to make the trip to see her daylilies. For those of you who cannot attend, Zora sent some tips on dividing daylilies and other general advice:
When or if to divide a daylily is a decision to be made based on the plant’s health. If it is not looking unhealthy, is still blooming freely and has not outgrown its space, there is no reason to disturb it. I only divide when one or more of those problems occurs. Daylilies vary greatly in how fast they become crowded. I have some that get divided every 4 years or so and some that have been fine for more than that time. The biggest problem in waiting to divide until the plant is very overgrown is that it can become very large and hard to handle. When I do divide, I replenish the soil with lots of compost and a bit of peat.
Daylilies are considered the perfect perennial because they survive and thrive with very little care. However, good nutrition and adequate water is always going to improve daylily performance. I do fertilize lightly every year with lawn fertilizer (no herbicide). Daylilies can use a bit more nitrogen than other perennials to keep the foliage a nice healthy green. I apply a 3-month time released fertilizer in the early spring–never any fertilizer after August 1. If you have a good supply of compost, top-dressing with that every year is also beneficial and can probably take the place of artificial fertilizer.
Any dividing is best done in spring or after bloom has ended. I would not divide any later than early to mid-September – daylilies need about 6 weeks to settle in before winter arrives. We never know when that is going to happen.
The following is by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:
Euoooooooo! I sure don’t like little four legged critters running unexpectedly across my feet! Now I ‘m not afraid of little four legged critters. I just don’t like them not giving me any warning.
A chipmunk apparently had plans to create a winter habitat in a pile of leaves under my peony bushes. The little fellow and I had to come to an agreement that he and I are not sharing that space at the same time. I’m raking the leaves out of the way to eliminate the unwanted habitat and potential damage to flowers and shrubs in the bed. Removing diseased leaves and branches at the same time will help reduce diseases next season.
My peonies are going to stay all together this year. They seem to be doing fine. I am going to move the Iris though. They’re located in a rather out of the way bed and will be much too beautiful in the spring to not be enjoyed. Iris can be dug and divided right now and do not need to be planted deeply in the soil but do need to be kept moist after transplanting.
But then the decision must come, where do I transplant them. Now is a perfect time to pour a cup of coffee, wander through the gardens and assess the beds. Examine each bed from several angles. Be critical. Keeping a seasonal pictorial journal using a digital camera is such a great idea. Pictures don’t lie: do you need more height, more color, more diversity? Several Master Gardeners routinely keep a garden log. Now, you may not want to be as involved in your gardens as a Master Gardener, but even placing some markers next to your plants and keeping your purchasing receipts provides a record of what you bought when and from whom in case the plant(s) is performing fantastically or not so much and you want to add or eliminate that species.
Trees and shrubs can be transplanted now, too. If a “honey do” on your list involves moving a large tree or shrub, a word of advice is to telephone One Call and determine where your underground utility lines are located. Safety first is always a great motto.
Did you know that weeds often set their seeds in the fall for the coming year? Continue weeding until Jack Frost arrives and plan next spring to plant a ground cover where weeds now reside.
Two workshops on dividing perennials are scheduled this week and in September…
Culver’s Garden Center & Greenhouse in Marion is planning a free seminar to help homeowners and gardeners learn to divide common perennials.
Share the Love: Dividing Perennials will be Tuesday, Aug. 26. from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in Culver’s Greenhouses, 1682 Dubuque Rd., Hwy 151 East. The free seminar will focus on how to divide perennial plants that have outgrown their space or for use in other locations.
People interested in attending the free seminar are asked to call (319) 377-4195.
Also, Brucemore has scheduled a workshop on fall perennial division in the Brucemore Formal Garden on Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 6 p.m. The Brucemore garden staff will demonstrate tips and techniques for successfully dividing a variety of plants, including peonies and lambs ear.
Dividing perennials each fall helps to maintain a healthy garden while providing an opportunity for distributing favorite plants to other parts of the garden or sharing them with friends. Participants should wear gloves, bring a spade and/or fork, and be prepared to dig and split plants from the garden. Each participant will have the opportunity to take a small piece of Brucemore home with them.
There will be ample opportunity to ask questions and seek advice from the experts at the end of the workshop. Admission is $10, or $7 for Brucemore members. Space is limited. Call (319) 362-7375 for reservations or register online at www.brucemore.org by September 9.
Brucemore is Iowa’s only National Trust Historic Site and is located at 2160 Linden Drive SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.