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Propagating and growing daylilies from seed
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Daylilies are among some of the more popular perennials for any garden. They are very versatile, easy to grow, and they produce flowers that, as the name suggests, bloom for just one day. However, they are significantly floriferous so you don’t have to worry about only enjoying a single flower once. Healthy plants will give you a multitude of flowers throughout the growing season.
For UK gardeners the day lily is particularly enticing because of its versatility and its ability to handle just about any fluctuation in temperature or growing conditions.
That said if you already have a successfully growing daylily, you are no doubt aware that you can divide and transplant older plants so that you have a collection of daylilies throughout your garden without overcrowding any single plant. However, you can also propagate and grow your daylilies from seed if you don’t want to disturb a successfully growing plant but it don’t take longer before you will see flowers but if you sow them early enough you can see flowers within the first year, however it can take up to 3 years so be patient.
Why use seed propagation?
The main reason you want to consider propagating from seed is for hybridization. You will be surprised how easily daylilies cross-pollinate and if you have more than one variety in your garden this is a great way to create interesting hybrids all on your own. If you grow hybrids from seed you will absolutely produce some unique daylilies as each seed usually produces a different flower, these can then be divided a few years later to get the same flowers.
How to cross polinate plants
In order to successfully cross-pollinate you simply pick the two parent plants with the traits that you want combined, and then using a painter’s brush or a cotton swab, brush the pollen of the stamen from one plant’s flowers and deposit it directly onto the pistil of the other plant.
Make sure you mark the flowers that have the deposited pollen so you don’t pick them on accident and put them in your vase if you usually use them for cut flowers. Also, be sure to avoid deadheading because you want that flower to fade naturally.
There is a 50% chance that when it fades it will develop into a seed pod. You might have to try this process multiple times with the two-parent plants in question before you successfully get the seed pod.
How and when to collect seed
But once you have it, let it dry naturally on the stem. The flower and subsequent seed pod should turn brown and start to split open. Once that happens, pick it and leave it stored in a warm, dry place until such time as you are ready to plant, some gardeners also choose to store them in a cool refrigerator until they plant them. You can, of course, plant the seeds immediately if you are ready. The earlier you plant the seeds the sooner they usually flower, if you can get the seeds to germinate by the end of July/early August, you may get flowers the following summer if you’re lucky.
How to plant the seed
Planting directly in the garden
When you are ready, you can sow the seeds directly in the ground in most climates. Using moist soil with a lot of organic matter mixed in you can place them approximately 1.5 to 2cm deep. Keep the soil moist until you see the seedlings which should take place in about 14 days.
Conversely, you can start the seeds indoors if you don’t want to try outside when the weather might turn. We recommend using small pots and planting 3-4 seeds from the same flower in each pot. Plant them around 2 inches deep and leave them on a warm windowsill keeping the soil moist but not wet as they can rot. You can keep them indoors until any chance of frost it’s over in the spring and then transplants them outside.
Bear in mind you can take between two and three years for the daylilies to produce new flowers but once they do you’ll have something unique and completely yours.