Overwintering Daylilies in Containers

crackingtheconcrete(7a)March 10, 2009

Hi, everyone.

Was just recently struck with "daylily fever" and having thought I understood the whole "dormant, evergreen, sev" thing (at least what it meant).

Unfortunately, I just now comprehended that evergreens tend to not do so well in colder climates and have already sort of went along my merry way buying off the lily auction (eek, temptation!!) .

I found a posting from 2007 that mentioned someone who grew daylilies in containers (which I am doing as I live in the city and having dirt that doesn't come from a bag at Home Depot is a serious luxury), but she had mentioned that she overwintered them in a cool basement and I didn't see much beyond this info-wise.

Has anyone had success overwintering daylilies in a very low-light basement? Can you do this with evergreen daylilies (low light)or do they need to function all winter as a growing plant (water/light) ?

Thanks so much!

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blue23rose(6b IN)

I can't help you with your question, but I'm afraid I am in the same boat you are, CTC. I bought some that were labeled as evergreen and am now wondering if they can survive. However, I did buy my from the local dl farm, so am hoping that means they will be okay. Surely a pile of mulch will help the situation (there again, I'm hoping.)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 5:35PM
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I have over wintered successfully Ev, Sev and dormants in my unheated garage that is attached to my house. The only light that they get is what comes through the small windows in the garage door. I don't worry about what type of daylily it is, I only buy from sources that are in a similar region to mine based on what does well for them or other collectors in similar regions.
To prepare them for storage I make sure that they are well watered and then allow them to freeze. They are then stored in my garage for the winter. That's it, I don't do anything to them for the rest of the winter. Mike.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 5:36PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

I have overwintered many dayliles that have been purchased late in the season. I either store them in a cold room, or in my mudroom indoors. In fact right now I have 5 Pirate's Patch EV sitting on a window ledge facing a west window. Here way up north we don't get that much sun during the long winter months. They have been green all winter long, they don't get much water and no fertilizer.

I'm planning on planting them directly outdoors come spring, hoping they will be a hardy evergreen in my zone since I bought them from a cold zone grower.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 6:47PM
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Thanks for the info, guys! It's encouraging to see that it is working for other people.

Mike1 if you're there , just a question out of curiosity, if they're evergreens or sev, why do you freeze them first, and then overwinter them?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 7:34PM
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They are lots of Evergreens and SEV that will survive in colder climates. Don't just rule out all Ev and Sev, they are quite a few that do well eg. Born To Run, Coronal Light, Alexander Rag Time Band, Always Afternoon, Apple Of My Eye, Bella Lugosi, Last Snow Flake, Victorian Lace etc. and the list goes on. These are all grown in my garden, if you are concerned because of lack of snow cover then you mulch them. If you want a list of what I have drop me an email.
To answer your question, my garage is unheated and the temp. will drop to -5c to -7c. Not as cold as it gets outside but cold enough to keep the plants frozen. This is why I water them well, let them freeze and then transfer to the garage so that they will remain frozen for the winter and I can forget about them until spring. No watering, low maintenance. At least that is my thought process, maybe someone else has a better explanation. Mike.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 8:29PM
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I had a about a dozen plastic beer cups with seedlings in them that I didn't get planted last year. Many were seedlings from crosses I got as bonus seeds and not of primary interest to me. I put them all against the outside of the garage door and bunkered them in with a promix bale. Anytime we had a brief thaw I would give them a little water. We had a number of days where the temps went below 0. Right now a lot of them are beginning to show some new growth. Surprising how tough DL's can be.....I wouldn't have bet on any of them surviving.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 9:12PM
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Alright! Sounds good. Thanks Mike and everyone else for answering my questions/adding info. If I get bigger fans, I might try to split a bit off and leave a fan outside and take the rest inside and see what happens.

Usually I have no problems experimenting with cold hardiness on various plants and if I take a few casualties I can handle it, but I spent 90% of my entire "flower budget" this year on daylilies, some of which were the price of our entire family going out for dinner at a nicer restaurant, and although my husband is awesome and very supportive, it's kind of extra depressing when a plant dies and he says, "what's wrong?" and I say, "Oh, it wasn't just a daylily, it was like a $55 daylily" and I am afraid to see his face when he says, "How much???!"

Sorry, getting off topic. I am definitely going to try the unheated basement this year and will let everyone know how it goes!

Thanks so much!!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 9:32AM
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Just make sure to check them semiregularly. I had pots & pots in a basement one year (like, say, about 150 pots), and it didn't occur to me to check on them til late in the winter. Most of them had vastly elongated, pale yellow-white leaves, not to mention the entire aphid population of the Mid-Atlantic states.

Since you grow in containers (spring & summer, too, I presume), my word of advice is to make sure you have extremely well-drained potting medium in the pots. Extremely. I don't recall offhand what, after several years of experimentation I came up with - but certainly large proportions of fine bark chips & of one of those perlite kind of things. In fact, I may have had as much as 1/3 pine bark by volume.

I'm in agreement with Mike re: sevs and evs, too. You get many people in northern zones who insist they'll no longer grow those due to hardiness issues. Certainly it's a good thing to breed for hardiness, but to grow none at all is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

My LAST SNOWFLAKE is already growing like gangbusters. Granted, I have it in a raised, south-facing bed in front of a stucco wall of the house and next to a stone patio....but still. It and its Trimmer friends look pretty good so far.

And as for sevs, look at Curt Hanson's catalog. (She says, flipping through it right now) Yup, 8 out of 32 are listed as sevs. He lives in Ohio. Many of his intros have Salters in the background. So, what generalization should one make from that? It seems to me that if you want to grow evs & sevs, you can (1) buy from northern growers & hybridizers, (2) buy plants with hardy genes, (3) take a chance!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 4:02PM
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Let me correct that (hard to post with cat sitting in front of the monitor) - I may have had as much as 2/3 pine bark by volume in every pot. Or certainly somewhere between 1/3 and 2/3. Also whole bunches of compost. Not to mention the actual potting soil of course.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 4:07PM
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Over-wintering in a low light basement is asking for trouble.. pests and some continuing to grow expending all their food stores (roots).

Plant habit type does NOT always mean NOT hardy. Depends on your actual SOIL temps.. not the USDA zonal map... which are mostly meaningless.

IF.. your tied to potting them.. the advice to use well drained mixtures is of course right on. Suggest.. waiting until a good killing frost.. dig an area out to bury the pots. Set the pots in that hole and cover them with the soil that came out of the hole. One can/should wait until actual soil temps stay down.. a shaded area for this is best.. northside of a building etc... covering when temsp are known to stay cool. A moisture barrier is sometimes used.. making sure any water drains off the pots top and doesn't direct more water to the pots.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 5:56PM
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Thanks lynxe (and cat) for the heads up. I'm actually trying Al's container mix (over in the container section of the forum) for the first time this year as I heard that has excellent drainage- and it is largely pine bark based.

NORTHERNDAYLILY, I understand what you mean about possibly burying the containers, but I only have an 8 by 8 foot in-ground garden. Since ( other than my tiny garden which is busting at the seams) I don't actually have dirt with any great depth, I can't really sink the pots in a hole in the ground.
I am making a raised bed on concrete with well-draining mix. Are you able to speculate at all on whether or not you think the daylilies would survive the winter in this raised bed in 18 inches of dirt, or did I just completely make a fool out of myself as far as buying this summer without any appropriate planning for this winter.??

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 7:54PM
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Last year someone on this forum posted about how they move all their pots on to a cement slab for the winter. They had railroad ties or straw bales around the perimeter of the slab (don't remember which). They would then scatter moth balls here and there around the bases of the pots to discourage rodents from wintering over in that area. They covered the pots with 8 to 10 inches of autumn leaves, Then they would cover the pots and leaves with burlap or fine landscape cloth to keep the leaves from being blown out and off the daylily pots. The burlap was held down with bricks along the edges so that it wouldnÂt get blown off either. They said that they had almost no plant losses using this method every winter. Burlap and leaves were removed in the early spring.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 9:05PM
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I'm in the middle of an experiment with rooted prolifs from last fall. In the past, I had planted my late season rooted prolifs in the veggie garden, mulched with shredded leaves. Few were still alive the next spring. Since I now have an unheated sun porch attached to our home, I potted up the rooted prolifs in very tall foam beverage cups - recycled Sweet Tea cups from MickeyD's - put holes in the bottom for drainage and filled the cups with Miracle Grow potting mix. There are two to three prolifs per cup. I watered them in very well and kept them watered until the dirt started to freeze. As soon as we had a few warm days and the dirt was no longer frozen, I'd water sparingly. We recently had some nice warm days and I thoroughly watered them. There is new growth on over 90% of them. I am reserving judgement until I see heavy new growth, but there was absolutely no heaving, as there was in the garden planted prolifs, which was what killed them.

I also planted up some small seedlings of a Lavender Blue Baby cross, Heavenly Angel Ice seedlings, and some Japanese Iris seedlings. ALL of these are showing green growth too.

The year before last, I kept 2 pots of Stella'Oro fans alive, as well as a pot of Standard Dwarf irises that didn't get planted in time. They all lived and thrived, with the irises blooming a week or two before the exact same ones that had been planted in the ground.

I won't hesitate to over winter potted perennials of any kind in my porch now.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 1:50PM
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"Are you able to speculate at all on whether or not you think the daylilies would survive the winter in this raised bed in 18 inches of dirt, or did I just completely make a fool out of myself as far as buying this summer without any appropriate planning for this winter.??"

It's impossible to speculate.. the different plants and unseen weather.

Another route.. set the pots against your house foundation.. and place bagged leaves over them. Southside of the house would be best.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 2:43PM
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Why don't you provide a list of what you bought and maybe someone will be able to comment on their hardiness. I think the bed on your concrete pad needs to be raised more than 18 inches so that you have a deeper base and this way if you wish you can grow them in the ground. Then if you are still worried, mulch them really well for the winter and they should be fine.
I have used three different methods of over wintering plants in pots with success (daylilies and other perennials). An unheated garage attached to my house - water plants well before they freeze up, once frozen place in garage.Depending on space and number of pots you can stack plants on top of each other against the wall that is attached to the house.
I have placed plants on their sides against wall of house after they had frozen up, mulched and then covered with a tarp which I then secured.
On your concrete slab you can build an enclosure out of small bales of hay, place pots inside, mulch and then across top of the bales, place 2x4's spaced say 16 inches apart. You then cover with tarp or heavy plastic and make sure that you secure the tarp to the ground with something heavy.
Regardless of method, I always ensured that they were well watered before freeze up, once frozen I would then put them away for winter. I have never had to water them during the winter.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 10:25AM
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Hi guys,thanks for more ideas-Mike I appreciate your extra thoughts. My wireless is giving me trouble, so I haven't been able to check in as much.

A list of some of the ev/sev daylilies I had gotten are:

Bluegrass Music
Malyasian Marketplace
Mississippi Man
Celestial Empire
Sunshine All Day and
Santa's Little Helper
Texas Carnival Dance

We tend to not get below zero but b/c I'm close to Long Island we get really cold weather, then a thaw, and this "trend" repeats all winter long.

Thanks (:

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 8:06AM
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