Saturday, September 13, 2014

Daylily Proliferations

Hemerocallis 'Sarah Christine'
I have never really thought of myself as being a daylily fan (no pun intended!), but I've been rethinking this in the last few years.  Every time I see a beautiful one, I want it. In spite of the foliage of some of them getting rather ratty looking late in the season, I still want it. I've made a compromise with those by cutting the foliage back to about 8-10 inches and pulling off the brown and yellowed leaves.

As a result of my non-love of daylilies, I have no less than 44 different ones (possibly a couple more that I missed when I just went out to count) and I have a wish list of some that I'll buy if I ever run across them.

One of my favorites is a very large lemon yellow one, called 'Sarah Christine'. The American Hemerocallis Society's Online Daylily Database says this about it...

 'Sarah Christine' 
Introduced by Millikan-Soules in 1993

Scape height: 28 inches
Bloom size: 6 inches
Bloom season: Early-Midseason
Ploidy:  Diploid
Foliage type: Evergreen
Fragrance: Fragrant
Bloom habit: Diurnal
Color: Pale yellow and ivory to pink bicolor with cream throat
Parentage: (Siloam Mama × Groovy Green)

I would challenge the bloom size as stated in the database.  Mine have gotten larger than that on a regular basis. Regardless, it's one of the larger blooming daylilies out there. Its color doesn't really command attention because there are a gazillion yellow daylilies (at least), but its size certainly does, and that makes it worth having.

This week as I was walking through the garden doing a bit of late summer clean-up, I noticed 'Sarah Christine' was doing something her friends and cousins hadn't. She had proliferations! I've had a daylily do this before, but I didn't do anything with them and merely cut off the scape and composted it.

What are proliferations?

Sometimes a daylily will start to form little plantlets at nodes on the stem of a flower scape. These will often form roots while still attached to the plant. If the stem of the scape is cut on both sides of the plantlet - the proliferation - and put into potting soil, a new plant can be grown. It will be a clone of the mother plant - in other words, identical to it.

'Sarah Christine' has several proliferations on this flower scape. The middle
one is actually two, which I will pot up together.

The reason I don't get too many of these is because I'm pretty obsessive about cutting scapes off once they're finished blooming.  I missed this one.

There are four proliferations on this scape.

I cut it off at its base and then cut each proliferation and put them in water so they can form some roots before I pot them up. I'll keep the potted plants in the greenhouse this winter and then plant them out near the mother plant in the spring.

'Sarah Christine' had babies!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Self-Seeded Surprise

Since the majority of the garden where we have the most space to grow edibles has become mostly shady, we needed to find somewhere else to grow things like corn and squash. Our neighbor to the south has a large yard with no trees at all and a few years ago, he graciously allowed us to dig up a rectangular area at the back of his property for us to garden.

Last year, we grew corn over most of it, including beautiful 'Glass Gem', a flint/popcorn variety that took the internet by storm the year before. Though we saved plenty of seed from last year for growing it this year, we didn't plant any.

We did plant three different kinds of sweet corn and we got a decent crop for eating, but that season was over several weeks ago. Last weekend, Romie mentioned that there were several stalks in one corner of the plot that remained green while the rest were drying and straw-colored. He suggested that perhaps these were volunteers from last year's 'Glass Gem', since that matured later than our sweet corn varieties.

Curious, we walked over there and I peeled the husks back on one of the ears and how about that? 

Either these were seeds that we'd planted last year and they hadn't germinated until this spring (not too likely) or there was an ear that got left on the ground last year long enough that it dried sufficiently to have some kernels pop off the ear onto the ground. That doesn't seem too likely either, since we saved all available seed at the end of the season and I don't think we missed harvesting any ears.

However it happened, we're going to have eight or so ears of 'Glass Gem' this year! What a happy surprise. :-)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Yes, Virginia. There IS a Hardy Agapanthus!

Tropical Agapanthus on a balcony in Quito, Ecuador
Every time I visit a warmer climate than mine, I'm enamored with the Agapanthus. Most recently, I saw plenty of it in Ecuador.  These plants are staples in places like California and Florida, but here in Zone 5, they aren't commonly seen to be growing, because they aren't hardy.

Wait.  That's not true.

Back in 2008, I visited the Toledo Botanical Garden and they were having a late season sale on some plants. One of them was a hardy Agapanthus. Hardy?  To Zone 5? I questioned the manager, and he showed me in the book where the hardiness was listed.  Indeed, Zone 5. I decided to take a chance and bought two.

It's now 2014, six years later, and we experienced the worst winter we've had in many, many years last winter. How's the Agapanthus?

Agapanthus 'Blue Yonder' in August 2012, after surviving four winters at
Our Little Acre in Zone 5b

It has been giving us beautiful deep blue blooms for many years and though I had my doubts for this year because of The Winter From Hell, the plant is still very much alive. However, we only had one bloom stalk this year. Unless we have another tough winter this year, I expect it to be back in fine form next summer with its usual bunch of blooms.

Agapanthus 'Blue Yonder' - August 2012

There's also a hardy white available, but I don't know much about that one. Joseph Tychonievich, who lives in central Michigan grew it for years, but he reports that it did not survive last winter, unfortunately.

So what is this hardy Agapanthus and where can you get it?

Agapanthus 'Blue Yonder' blooms in August 2013
(foliage not shown)

Agapanthus 'Blue Yonder'

Common Name: Lily of the Nile
Zone: 5-10
Height: 24-30 inches (bloom stalks), foliage tops out at about 12-15 inches
 Full Sun

Possibly available here:

Easy to Grow Bulbs (currently out of stock)
Nature Hills Nursery (currently out of stock)
Greenfield Plant Farm

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