Ever heard of a daylily? Each stem bears many flowers — anywhere from four to fifty — and in a good year and the right spot — you'll have months of continuous flowering.
Daylilies grow in any garden in Australia, be it hot, arid, humid, drought or frosty.
You can plant them and ignore them — the main (though rare) daylily problem is rot from too much fertiliser. But to get the full glory of daylilies, they do need two things.
The first is sunlight. We live in a valley and, while our daylilies are glorious in midsummer, I envy those with more sunlight and a lot more daylily flowers.
As a general rule, the cooler the climate the more sun they need — at least five hours a day of direct sunlight and preferably more.
In tropical areas they bloom well in dappled light. Try your daylilies in one spot for a couple of years and if they aren't blooming for at least three months, move them to a spot with more sun, or a little more shelter.
Their other need is water. Daylilies have survived the worst droughts here, the leaves still green, but they give very few flowers when water-stressed, saving their moisture for survival.
Water deeply once weekly during spring and summer, unless the rain does the job for you. Mulch will also help keep moisture in, but isn't as necessary as it is with many other perennials.
Daylilies may bloom for decades with no feeding at all, but if you want your daylily patch to grow bigger — as well as providing the best display of flowers — feed with an organic fertiliser in early spring and water it in well.
You can also feed them in autumn, after flowering has stopped, but while the plant is still growing strongly before winter sets in.
Daylily clumps get bigger and bigger as the years go by. You can usually 'divide' them after about three years of good growth, using a sharp spade to slice the clumps down the middle and moving half to a new home to brighten up another corner of the garden, or to make a row of daylilies.
Vigorous varieties sometimes really need to be divided, but others are slow growers and can be ignored forever.
A few decades ago daylilies were largely yellow, yellow, or yellow. But eager — and sometimes fanatic — hybridising in the USA and UK as well as Australia has resulted in a great torrent of the most wonderfully varied flowers, each as free flowering and hardy as the old-fashioned ones, if not more so.
There are singles and doubles, full-sized or miniature, reds, whites, pinks, almost black, rusts, pinks, golds, oranges, spotted and ruffled and fringed varieties, ones with small elegant flowers and ones with blooms that are almost too heavy for their stems.
Daylilies are superb for sunny banks, where you don't want the hassle of planting out each year or weeding. I planted ours next to rocks, for added heat, and every nook in the garden that probably won't get any attention but needs brightening.
I suspect if we had more sunlight here in the valley I'd become one of the daylily tragics, planting out every variety and colour, for the extraordinary glory of a flower that gives beauty for a day, and then another, and another.