Hemerocallis 'Little Missy'

April 18, 2003 - 12:52

One of the toughest, most adaptable perennials in the landscape, this daylily offers striking color, repeat blooming and easy production.

Hemerocallis 'Little Missy' is a new diploid daylily that was recently introduced by DeVroomen Holland Garden Products. This cultivar reaches 2 feet tall, bearing beautiful, purple-red flowers with fine, white edges and a contrasting yellow throat. Little Missy is considered a rebloomer, which means it produces a flush of flowers in late spring to early summer and bears flowers again later that same summer.

Like the common name daylily implies, the individual flowers usually only last for one day. Even the scientific name hemerocallis translates into 'beauty for a day' from the Greek words Hemera (day) and kallos (beauty). Daylilies have USDA hardiness in Zones 3-10 and are very versatile, commonly used as ground covers, border plantings, mass plantings and for naturalizing.

In the landscape, hemerocallis prefers full sun to partial shade, is very tolerant to a wide variety of growing conditions and can withstand heat and drought better than most commonly grown perennials. Although daylilies do not prefer water-logged soils, they have an excellent ability to survive floods. These attributes give hemerocallis the reputation for being one of the toughest, most adaptable perennials used in the landscape.

Propagation

Daylilies are most commonly propagated vegetatively by division. Division of daylilies is best done during the spring or fall, but they may be propagated any time of the year. When making divisions, the best results are achieved when the foliage is cut back to 4-6 inches. For quart production, a division consisting of 1-3 fans, or shoots, is commonly used. For larger containers, such as a 1-gal. size, divisions of 3-5 fans are commonly used.

Production

Little Missy is available to the marketplace as bare-root plants from The Netherlands and must be planted soon after arrival. Due to economics, it is mostly used in 1-gallon or larger-sized pots; although for some markets, it can be produced successfully in smaller containers such as quarts or 5-inch pots. Generally, hemerocallis is not that particular about how it is grown. However, providing the best growing conditions will lead to more successful, earlier and more uniform crops.

Plant Little Missy in a well-drained rooting medium. Many growers use mixes that contain various components including bark, peat moss, coir, sand or perlite. When planting, spread the roots over a central cone of root medium in the center of the pot. Fill the pot, covering the crown with about 1 inch of potting medium. Water plants in thoroughly after potting and place them in the production area.

During production, the pH or acidity of the media should be maintained between 6.2 and 6.7. Feeding is generally not necessary during the first few weeks of production. When actively growing, daylilies are moderate feeders that require a controlled release fertilizer incorporated at a rate equivalent to 1 pound of nitrogen per yard of growing medium or 50-100 parts per million (ppm) nitrate delivered under a constant liquid fertilizer program. Avoid over-fertilization as it may lead to soft, spindly growth. Until Little Missy is established, keep the rooting medium evenly moist. Once established, I recommend watering thoroughly, when it is required, and allowing the substrate to dry slightly between waterings.

Hemerocallis planted in the early spring, are usually grown at an average temperature of 60° F. At this temperature, Little Missy will reach a finished size in 6-8 weeks and will be flowering in about 10 weeks. Optimum growing temperatures are slightly higher, with a day temperature of 80° F and a night temperature of 65° F. These warmer temperatures are similar to conditions naturally occurring outdoors in late spring and will decrease the time needed to reach flowering. Many operations plant their daylilies in the late summer or early fall for next year's spring sales. These summer/fall plantings produce better plants with more flowers than daylilies potted the same year they are to be sold. Be sure to allow 6-8 weeks for rooting before the temperatures remain below freezing. I would also recommend withholding nutrients in the early fall to allow the plants to "shut down" as they prepare for their winter dormancy.

Over-wintering daylilies is relatively simple. In the late fall, trim the plants back to 2 inches above the top of the container. Trim as late in the fall as reasonably possible for your operation, as daylilies will produce a flush of new growth until several hard frosts occur. Once they are trimmed, group the pots together inside a cold frame, greenhouse or outdoor production bed. In colder zones, I would also recommend covering them with a protective frost fabric during the winter months. During this season, if there are periods where the temperatures remain above freezing, open the cold frame doors or provide ventilation during the day to keep the temperature inside as cool as possible. Provide adequate ventilation any time the outdoor temperatures are above 40° F.

Pests and Diseases

Little Missy is not susceptible to many pests. Aphids, spider mites and thrips are the insects most prevalent. Usually a preventative program for spider mites, which utilizes ovicides such as Hexygon or Ovation and adulticides such as Avid or Floramite, can nearly eliminate their presence. Thrips will most likely be observed at or near flowering and can be controlled using chemicals such as Conserve or Mesurol. Be sure to read the labels of each of these products for their recommended uses and rates.

There are only a couple of diseases associated with the production of daylilies. Crown rot sometimes occurs shortly after over-wintering; usually, this tends to be observed on evergreen cultivars. Although seldom a concern, inadequate aeration during cool, wet weather may lead to soil born fungal infections from Fusarium or Rhizoctonia. There are also a few leaf spot and leaf streak foliage diseases caused by the fungal pathogens Aureobasidium microstictum, Alternaria alternate and various Fusarium species.

The last couple years have brought a lot of concern and attention to a new daylily rust caused by the fungal pathogen Puccinia hemerocallidis, which is spreading throughout the country. Growers are at a greater risk of observing rust when purchasing plant material from outside of the United States or from Florida. The rust does not appear to over-winter in the northern United States, so growers carrying over hemerocallis in these regions may be less susceptible to this fungal disease. Infected foliage should be removed and destroyed. Certain chemicals have controlled the rust either after damaged foliage is removed or on a preventative basis. Some of the chemicals I suggest for controlling this rust include Bayleton, Strike, Banner Maxx, Systhane, Heritage, Contrast and Daconil. I recommend rotating between chemical classes to reduce the development of fungicide resistance. Although daylily rust has not been observed on Little Missy, growers should still be cautious and implement preventative programs where applicable. Further information regarding daylily rust can be obtained at www.aphis.usda.gov/npb/daylily.html.

Availability

Hemerocallis Little Missy is brought to the marketplace by DeVroomen Holland Garden Products. Bare-root plants are currently available through the DeVroomen catalog or by contacting a sales representative.

About The Author

Paul Pilon is head grower at Sawyer Nursery, Hudsonville, Mich. He can be reached by E-mail at pjpexpress@juno.com.

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