Blessed with eye-grabbing color and such heat tolerance they're almost impossible to kill, daylilies are a cinch for novice and expert gardeners. Just how tough are they? The orange daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) long ago become a fixture along Midwest roadsides.
"Our climate suits daylilies perfectly," says Missouri breeder Jack Roberson, who owns American Daylily & Perennials near Kansas City. "Grasses and other weeds can overpower daylilies in some regions, but not here." And daylily rust, a fungus causing alarm in other areas, is a non-issue in the Midwest, where cold kills it.
Growing from 18 inches to three feet tall, daylilies can work in any size garden. While they can survive in half-day sun, these perennials perform best in full sun. With 50,000 varieties to choose from, how does a gardener decide? "It's a maze out there," says Jack's wife and business partner, Jo. "A good daylily must deliver solid, dependable performance in the garden."
To help gardeners figure it out, the Robersons helped organize the All-American Daylily Selection Council nearly 20 years ago to evaluate which daylilies perform best. The winners must excel in test gardens across the country, and many will rebloom.
A yellow variety called 'Buttered Popcorn' snared the All-American landscape designation this year and made the Robersons' list of dependable rebloomers.
Other good repeaters include the well-known 'Stella d' Oro' and two yellow-flowered winners from Jack's breeding efforts, 'Black Eyed Stella' and 'Miss Mary Mary'. Although the best rebloomers tend to have yellow or gold flowers, Jo and Jack also recommend purple 'Little Wine Cup' and scarlet-red 'Lady Scarlet'.