January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December - Odds and Ends


Start fertilizing the new seedlings.

About 4 weeks after the seeds are planted, the new plants should be looking good and it's time to begin fertilizing them. I don't believe the Pro-Mix has any added nutrients so I fertilize in order to help develop a good root system prior to transplanting. The plan is to fertilize weekly but that doesn't always happen.

The key is not to over fertilize as that could burn the newly forming roots. I have had success with a half strength solution made from a root stimulator. I like to water the trays (water only) a couple of days before I water again with the fertilize. Once we start getting cold fronts, the seedling growth slows down. At this time I hold off feeding until the weather begins to warm again.

Select seedlings for registration.

I typically make my registration selections about this time every year. By this time I have been able to see how each seedling performs and how it handles our hot, humid summers. While there are no official 'rules' for deciding what a person can register, I have a few personal guidelines that I follow.

In the early days of hybridizing one of the most important characteristics for consideration was 'uniqueness'. In other words, is this seedling different from other registered cultivars in some way. Even today 'distinction' counts for 25% of the points awarded to seedlings when entered in a show. I agree that distinction is important but the problem is that to truely know if a daylily is distinctive a person would have to have personally seen (and remembered) tens of thousands of daylilies. So in selecting for registration I do consider distinction, but it can only be based on the few thousand daylilies I have seen over the years. One of the main reasons for not registering a good performing seedling is that it's too similar to something I have already seen registered.

Here are a few of the other things I look for when selecting for registration.

  • Seedling must rebloom. Plants that send up two or more successive scapes extend the bloom season. Most daylilies today rebloom and I consider the failure to rebloom to be a flaw.
  • Bud count must be at least 20 per scape for me to consider registeration. I could overlook the 20 bud rule if a seedling consistently rebloomed multiple times as the overall number of blooms per plant would be acceptable.
  • Foliage must look nice most of the year and should at least look acceptable during the hot summer months after blooming. One exception might be a seedling that goes into summer dormancy after heavy blooming. The dormancy is usually quite temporary and when the new foliage comes out it should look nice and clean.
  • Scape must be pleasingly branched. Having a bud count of 20 doesn't mean a lot if all 20 are clumped together at the top of the scape.
  • The bloom must be attractive, the color should be good, and it should open properly the majority of the time. I consider blooms that don't open properly to be a major flaw.
  • Lastly, I ask myself "is the daylily good enough to allocate space in my garden for it for the next 10 years". To put it another way; "if this was somebody else's daylily, would I specifically purchase it for my garden". I have limited space in my garden and this test has probably eliminated a few that I might have otherwise registered.

Theoretically there could be exceptions. Should I have a seedling that meets most of the criteria but only has a bud count in the high teens, I might still consider registering it anyway if the bloom was really special. I haven't produced one of those yet (smile).

October is the time to start the fall gardening projects

Here in Houston it typically remains hot until some time in October. The first fall fronts bring with them pleasant cooler temperatures which are perfect for working in the yard. It's also the best time for transplanting daylilies as our mild winters allow the plants to continue growing and establishing their root systems for the coming season.

Every year I take vacation from my day job to accomplish all my fall daylily projects. As in everything I do, I'm probably overly organized but I find it helps me get more done in a shorter amount of time. Prior to the start of my time off I prepare a project list of the individual tasks in the order I plan to do them.

I start by listing the main recurring tasks such as retiring seedlings from the evaluation beds, transplanting the new keeper seedlings into the evaluation beds, removing older breeding daylilies and replacing them with new daylilies, and potting up the removals for my yard sale. These are things I do every year.

Then I add any special projects. These could include tilling an established bed to add ammendments, adding a bed, or reorganizing an existing bed.

The final part of the project list preparation is to add in any needed prerequisites such as getting materials needed for each project. I add these to the list to remind me to get them prior to starting each individual task.

Of course I seldom perform all the tasks in the listed order but it still helps me stay on track. With limited time off available I need to maximize my efforts.