Sunday, August 26, 2012

Daylilies: Dividing and Lining Out

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A nice looking morning here on the mountain. Just in from a walk with Karl the Wonder Dog who exhibited extreme displeasure by the sound of coyotes along the treeline just out back. It was not one or two but a pack and some of the older ones have voices that make you ask how big they are. I really need to set up the game cameras and get some pictures to show folks what neighbors we have here. The State wildlife folks don't say much about the impact on our deer heard but if you take a closer look at what is going on, the absence of deer is more clear.

I have been busy digging and dividing daylilies every day. The lack of rain has made this a bigger chore than it usually is as our clay based soils are like concrete in places and I have to use all my weight on the shovel point to penetrate the ground and break clumps free. Here is a picture of a very nice purple daylily named Houdini. I dug out two rows of eight plants each.

Once I get the clumps out of the ground I begin cutting them up and pulling off all the spent leaves and scapes. I cut the clump in half with a cheap Wally World buck-a-piece knife and then continue to break up the pieces until I get down to planting size.

When I am finished I have pieces that will fit in a 6 quart plant pot and a bunch of odds and ends to line out in the garden for sales next summer. We like to have a big piece going into every pot so that at sale time there are 3-4-5 scapes on the plants. We always reserve one big plant to put in a 20 gallon pot to serve as display so customers can see what they will have in a three years time. When everything is plantd, in pots or in the ground, I spray with horticultural oil to suffocate any insect eggs or diseases that may be left. It only takes a minute and is very time and cost effective.

Daylilies can be divided at any time of year but this time works for us as sales begin to diminish and we have more uninterrupted time. Yesterday Alex and I went to Burlington until 3:30 and came back to quiet at the nursery. I told Gail to head home and said I'd take care of the planting but before I knew it I had 11 customers wanting daylilies, astilbes, cimicifugas and rudbeckias. I'm heading out in a few minutes to get back to what I was thinking I could do yesterday.

If you want to see how this is done and need your confidence built a bit, stop by and ask me to show you how. It's not difficult, doesn't hurt the plants at all and it makes for better plants on into the future.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where today marks my son Alex's 20th birthday. I am very proud of Alex and the way he and Gail and I have learned about autism over these past years. Twenty years ago autism was hardly mentioned and the incidence was one in 5000 births. Today the incidence differs by country but with boys in America we are at about one in 85 births. Something to think about as every family will someone be touched by this sometime soon.

Heh, I have to get going! Have a nice day and stop by if you're out and about.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens (Like) and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm


Stephen Payne said...

Happy birthday to Alex!
My dear friends' son (Otis) has autism on the more severe end of the scale. I have learned much as I've watched them grow along with him...he's 18 now, so they'll need to make some decisions soon about what happens after his schooling ends.

Thanks for the daylily division tips! I'll get brave and divide a clump or two this week.

alexander solla said...

Seeing as how you're in VT, wondering how you overwinter these potted-up daylilies? Anything special you have to do to protect them? Are they in a cold frame/hoophouse? Can you leave them exposed? How much time do they need to get established in their pots before winter? Thanks!

George Africa said...

Hello Alexander. Those are good questions. Our pots are commercial plastic pots. We used to pot in #400 size which is a 4 quart pot but we are upgrading everything to #600 or 6 quart pots to accommodate a larger plant. In the old days we used to place all the pots on their sides and rake leaves over them in late fall. By the pots being on their sides, water couldn't accumulate in the top of the pot and freeze the meristems. Probably almost 10 years ago now we changed our overwintering procedure with the advent of 3/8" insulated blankets. This is a spun poly fiber that comes in 10 foot wide rolls. We line up the pots side by side in upright format just the way they grow and then roll the insulating fabric out on top and then cover with 6 mil poly weighted down with old tires. The upright pots do very well. The only other thing we add is 2 foot pieces of 2" diameter PVC pipe filled with a couple ounces of D-con or a similar granulated rodent product. The primary culprit is voles which do not hibernate and enjoy an easy feed during the winter. We place these pipes between the rows based upon the number of critters we see prior to the time we cover up for the winter. We do not use bait bars as the rodents grab off pieces and carry them away and that provides potential problems come spring with customers who brings dogs.

We leave all our perennials covered this way out in the elements. Placing them in cold frames or even unheated garages can create problems because temperatures change and plants break dormancy. When they are left outside, they react to the changes just as if they were in the ground.

We have always followed a personal rule of not planting or dividing after the ground temperature has fallen to 50° or lower. Although there might be days in the fall when temperatures warm into the high 70's, 50 is the temperature when the plants begin to slow down. This benchmark has always worked well for us.

Let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for your interest!


Mouzzam said...
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