Saving my daylily

dpc5555June 30, 2012

Hi all,

I have a South Seas daylily that is normally the star of my garden. This year it is struggling badly and I'm worried that it is dying.

We have been having a bit of a drought here - only a brief shower once in the last six weeks. I've been watering after work at night, but the abnormal heat had got many of my plants screaming for water. The hose and occasional sprinkler hasn't been enough.

I attached a picture of my daylily - is there anything that I can do to save it? The leaves have been browning, and now the buds are dying without opening.

I had read about leaf streak, and this looks like it could be that, though the weather has been bone dry, not wet (though we had an unusually mild winter and some wetness in early spring).

Thanks for your help!

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roxanna(z5b MA)

parodying Audrey in the "Little Shop of Horrors", your daylily is screaming "WATER ME! WATER ME!!" -- with the heat so bad now in many areas that's the single most reason daylilies are suffering, IMO. are you watering deeply enough, letting the water really soak in and then applying more? i stick a finger in the soil after i water to see how deep it is dry or moist...

i have been watering a lot the past couple of weeks in anticipation of the horrible heat (which is not as bad here as it is for some folk elsewhere, thankfully) and as i once read that the best "fertilizer" for daylilies IS water, i really soak them daily. they are just now beginning their bloom and so far are doing very well.

go soak that poor South Seas! (one of my favorite daylilies, gorgeous color)

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 6:25PM
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dementieva(Zone 9 - Houston)

Is it getting super hot during the day? Watering in the evening might actually be doing the plant a disservice if the ground surface is hot, because that heat will transfer into the water and warm the roots. Fungi (i.e. rotting diseases) grow better in warm, damp places.

My suggestion would be to water early, water deep (as Roxanna said), and don't water every day.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 8:05PM
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Leaf Streak? What is that? Most of my daylilies look like your picture. We had a mild winter and lots and lots of rain this spring. The yellowing seems to be done now. It has to be weather/water or a pest that is ALL OVER TOWN. I see this yellowing everywhere not just in my yard. I am waiting to see what I lost. Bloom is just beginning and I am not sure who will bloom and who is GONE. I am surprised to see buds appearing out of yellow but I am. I am hoping if they don't bloom this year they will return. What little I know about Daylilies is their roots are tough and they love to regenerate. What ever this is also got to my iris, btw.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 8:43PM
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Thanks for the suggestions all!

It has been very unseasonably hot lately. Blazing sun and upper 80s/90s for most of the last 3 weeks or so. No clouds, just hot sun. And no rain for weeks (the forecast keeps teasing it, but it always breaks north or south)

I may have to start watering in the morning.

The ground right now is hard as iron. It seems like I water and its gone an hour later. (It's actually so dry that I hardly can stick my finger in the soil! Even after watering)

I have a larger daylily bed and those are doing better than my South Seas - some browning but most are flowering as normal. The plants getting the direct sun are the ones that look most like my pic here. The shaded ones look perfect.

I'll shift my watering to the morning and try to give them a good soak. I'm nervous about not watering every day because of the extreme dryness. Like I said, the soil is bone dry now, and watering doesn't last long. I had the sprinkler running this morning and the yard is back to being dry again.

Arcy - yeah, my irises are also looking pretty ragged right now

Thanks again - I started to panic when I saw the flower pods turning brown as well... this South Seas is normally so robust.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 9:45PM
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I am not quite sure it's just drought. It started in my garden way before. I just think that's environmental too. Such an unusual winter.
I was afraid of crown rot, but I read it should be really bad smell. I pulled the yellow leaves and they don't smell bad, just you know, organically sort of. Well, I suppose if it was really bad smell I would smell it ;)

Anyway, here's a picture of some of mine (and I have many looking like this), and of course buds dropping and browning scapes
I am also curious how 'image upload' works

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 11:34PM
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I know mine are not a water issue. What could it be and like nat4b said there is no rotting smell.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 7:37AM
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roxanna(z5b MA)

okay, sit back and get comfortable -- this is going to be a long post!

hmmmm, if your soil is that dry, you need to attack the problem much more aggressively! here's what i would do (and have done in the past, especially with certain beds that dry to baby powder consistency -- yes, i know i need to add compost there, lol).

for the initial watering, make a slow pass with your nozzle set on sprinkler mode, holding it near the soil, not up high. go back to the beginning and make a second similar pass. take your time. this makes the soil surface able to accept the deeper watering to come, instead of just letting the water run off (which does no good whatsoever). depending on the size of the area you are dealing with this could take a good 20 minutes/half an hour. relax, go zen with your mind and enjoy the process, knowing you will be making a huge difference to your plants!

THEN start back where you began and set the nozzle on soak/flood -- whatever it is that gives a full intense amount of water (but don't make it flow too hard). hold it near the soil level and water slowly around the base of each plant -- you should see the water now is able to to really soak in. this will take some time -- i water 11 of my 26 gardens with exactly this method (daily in this present heat) and it can take me an hour or two.

once you have done this, the soil (usually) is in a moist-enough condition that the first two steps may not be necessary, just the deep watering which now should be able to soak down well.

voila! problem solved, i hope. i know many folk hate watering by hand, but i love to do it. it gives me a chance to admire the blooms or see where something needs to be taken care of...

good luck and i hope this helps!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 8:50AM
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This malady began in my yard late last year. Looked like both pics on this thread. Out of the ones affected, there were maybe 2 scrawny fans this spring.
Early on, I was amazed by how good the daylilies looked. A tremendous amount of foliage, and very robust. I'm thinking, this is going to one great year. Scapes began to appear, lots more than normal.
Then disaster struck-I asked what can this be? Crown rot, leaf streak?? It has progressed to the place that I can't find even one plant that isn't affected. Some go down in a hurry, some take longer. Leaves turn yellow, some have a faint pink cast first, some look like leaf streak, but in the end, they all turn yellow, then dry up. Some in the beginning had normal bloom. Then buds began to dry up, then scapes.
I don't have a bed just for daylilies, they are in with my other flowers. Daylilies not the only thing affected, 3 daisys, balloon flowers, snapdragons, and of all things coneflowers. Early bloom on the lilies was good, and color was good. On the ones that are still trying to bloom, color is faded badly.
Last year was the great American desert here, no rain to speak of, and 54 days of over 100 degrees. My flowers never lacked for water, in fact I had the highest water bills ever, since moving here 45 years ago.We are having the same weather as last year, very little rain, and weeks of over 100. We have set new records here, one was 111.Yesterday we had a cool day, it only got to 101.
The experts call it all weather related-I agree. It was suggested that I dig and put in pots the ones that were without rot. I would try a few, but I'm 79, and have too many lilies. Very discouraging, I've been gardening for too many years to count, but going out to move water is about all I can stand to do.I will say this, the older the plant, the less affected. Is it possible they are being bred up so much, they have less stamina?
Watering in the cool(??) of evening makes a lot of sense. I have a lot of soaker hose, and it is in use constantly. Mostly at night.
For the record, I have never had more beautiful roses. the things that do bloom, don't last long. Peonies, one day at most. And of course we are way ahead in season. I have all my fall flowers blooming now. Mums, asters, gloriosa daisys.
I'm grateful to all who post their pictures here, that way I have a little taste of bloom season.
By the way, I have drenched most affected ones with rot. I used Subdue, some old benomyl, and terraclor. None of it made any difference.
I wish you all the best gardening that is possible this year, and every year.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 9:54AM
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Roxanna, thanks for your post! Yes, I admit I don't like watering. Also I have to water some literally by hand, with a watering can (can't find a good one so far). The soil was very very dry, cracking last year, and dls were ok, no cracks yet this year.
I can't even begin to imagine watering 26 gardens :O

Flowergirl, exactly! They looked so good in the beginning, I was even wondering if all their strength went to foliage, big tall leaves etc. Then that yellowing started. I don't have many other perennials except daylilies, and my only mums were way ahead too. The true lilies though are sick.
About the older plants not affected as much. I don't know. I have several that look pretty good, and they are newer, and I have old ones completely sick.
So what kind of rot is it then?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 2:48PM
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roxanna(z5b MA)

nat -- i found what i consider a wonderful big watering can -- liked it so much i now have three of them. they are holding up beautifully after 4 years. go to and look for the French watering can -- i love its bright blue color, too! i am just 5 ft tall and have small hands, and this can is easy for me to lug around and use even when full.

oh, i don't water all 26 gardens, btw, only half of them. i am blessed (??) with a large area of clay-like soil with the water table not too far from the surface -- have never watered there in all the years we've been here, even when there is a drought...

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 6:30PM
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nat4b our state extension people say crown rot

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 7:34PM
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Looks like crown rot to me.

We just dug up three today. Belle Cook I can probably save. Enticing Elegance is somewhat "iffy." Clown Parade just breaks my heart. It is new, and I had high hopes for it. I would be very surprised if we can save it. Crowns are very mushy. Navajo Princess is dying, too, but I'm not even going to try and save it. I don't know about odor - since I have very little sense of smell. I can just look at the plant and tell whether or not it is crown rot.

We washed all the soil off, dug out any crown rot, and then soaked everything affected in a 5% Clorox solution for 20 minutes today. Plants are drying and I'll have to run to store tomorrow for more sulfur. We'll dust the crowns and roots well in sulfur and replant them in a couple of days and hope for the best.

The key to saving plants from crown rot is to dig them up as soon as you notice there is a problem. Some really go down fast. I had not realized there was a problem with Clown Parade. I'm afraid we were too late for that one.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 11:16PM
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Roxanna, thanks for the tip regarding watering can. I checked it out, and it's a bit too pricey for me. Acc. to some negative reviews it could leak, and that's my problem with the other ones.

Well, if extension said than it is crown rot. It's too many to dig out and transplant as it is too hot and I have no room, but I'll check at least a couple and try to save.
Nancy thanks for telling what you do. Maybe I'll just do bleach solution.
And sorry about your plants esp Clown Parade :(

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 3:08PM
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Hi all

Just an update. I'm fearing my South Seas may be crown rot as well, or some sort of root rot.

I did a deep watering the other morning and the soil actually maintained some of its moisture. Unfortunately the daylily is going downhill faster now. All of the flower scapes are yellowing and about 20% more of the leaves have yellowed since I took that picture above. None of it looks mushy from above (or that whitish wilted look I associate with rot), but something is taking this plant down fast.

I may have to yank it out and see what's going on under the ground. I'm fearing the mild winter, wet conditions of early spring and extreme dryness of this summer have weakened the plant too much.

I was going to try and see if I could save a couple of the fans that are off to the side and still green (or is it worth trying if rot is going on?)

Also, if it is crown rot, can I dig up the soil, put new soil in and replant a daylily there? Or should I put a different plant in its place?

So sad, my favorite daylily... Luckily its the only one of my 20+ daylilies that has been affected.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 10:34AM
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najoba what are you using for sulfur to dust roots & crown. What would I look for in the store. thanks.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 11:23AM
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Patty W. zone 5a Illinois

The plant tarnish bug will do this to daylilies. The worst of the damage is when they get a newly forming scape. It can't dry up while still so low it sits inside rotting.
When you pull the dry leaves away I usually don't smell any thing unless I keep going until I get to the dead scape. I caught my TPB early this spring with sticky tape their very fast and tiny. They will feed on foliage causing it to brown in that manner. They deposit their eggs in the little leaves that cover were a lateral would form killing those as well and sucks on the buds. My whole yard looks like that and it started long before drought or heat was an issue. They're getting my roses also. At least I know the enemy. Hope this helps someone.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 1:44PM
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Thanks for the info, Patty. I will google the bugs. Can you see them now?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 3:14PM
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Patty W. zone 5a Illinois

Usually towards evening they settle down a bit like a JB thats when it's easiest for me but they take flight when you approach them, They look like mini mini flies take off. I've only captured one by hand when it played peek-a-boo with me. If I looked on top it zipped to the bottom of the leaf eventually I put a hand over and under the leaf and got it. Mine was the brown with yellow markings. The AHS has them listed as a pest of the daylily. I live in Illinois and I'm fairly sure Iowa is having problems as well. The damage they do to a daylily is beyond belief. Just like many of the pictures above. Also if they get a scape before it emerges it does cause crown rot unless you get it out. Easy to tell, there will be a dead leaf in the middle of a fan. I've got a Paul Owen, one of Judy Davissons and two Emmeriches half killed because I didn't know. I now walk the daylilies looking. Found three this morning pulled leaves off till I found the little rotten scape no crown damage.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 4:09PM
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You know, my South Seas looks like *ell for the first time in the 6 years I've had it. Most of the scapes have dried up and only 1 is blooming in the foliage with like 4 buds on it. It's never looked this way. Midnight Magic is the same way. It's a good thing that they are cheapies if they do croak. This weather is too much for it.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 4:48PM
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Patty W. zone 5a Illinois

Forgot to mention a couple things The Plant Tarnish Bug isn't picky it feasts on more than 450 species of plants. Your daylily probably does have crown rot now TPB or not. Pull leaves off until you get to healthy ones more than likely you'll fined rotten ones as to come to the center and they will stink. I had to cut my Davisson to the ground. as crown rot was will on it's way. Treated with 10% bleach and water solution. It's growing back but more than half crown was infected. I have my doubts that it will make it. Crown rot does get worse with water. cutting back and treating it is maybe it's only chance. Don't forget to sterilize your cutter before using again. Good luck. Pat

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 4:50PM
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Thanks Pat. Couple questions. Did you cut the foliage and left the plant in its place?? And just watered with 10% bleach solution? It would be so much easier for me if I don't have to dig them out. I would like to try to save at least one which I like. Well, maybe Lime Frost too.
I pulled all the bad leaves on the sick Chicago Apache until nothing was left of one of the fans and they did not stink.
I am also curious what Emmerichs you have that are half killed :( Mine are Enduring Freedom and Eyes on the Prize.
I wipe my cutters with a clorox wipe is that enough?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 1:35PM
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I purchased a 4-lb. bag of sulfur (Hi-Yield) at a local feed store. Feed stores are probably the best place to find it. I poured some into the bottom of a bucket and heavily dusted the roots and crowns with it.

We also dug up SAILING AT DAWN a couple of days ago. I think we got to it in time. The crown rot had attacked what appeared to be a separate crown for the two new young fans, but the "mother" plant seems O.K. I really like this daylily, and I sure don't want to lose it.

Last year we had a very prolonged drought with 100 degree plus weather for months - no significant rain from March until October. I felt compelled to water our daylilies to keep them alive. I think my concern and compassion contributed heavily to crown rot, causing the demise of around 65 daylilies.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 8:14PM
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Patty W. zone 5a Illinois

This is what I've done thou I'm not sure what's best. I pulled off dead leaves until I either reach healthy leaves or smelly mush. You can till if it's bad bottom of fan feels soft. In that case I'll cut the fan off if crown is yellowish or brown it's got crown rot. Disinfect cutters ( I use lysol mixed with water in a spray bottle) and move on to the next fan. This way you can see how much is bad. I believe digging it up is best with crown rot. That way you can separate any good fans dip them in bleach solution rinse and replant. Some of mine had only a couple of bad fans I cut bad fans off as far down as possible and treat without digging and this usually works fine. One last week needed every fan cut off but I didn't dig it up because everything in garden is so stressed and I didn't what to cut roots of plants close by. So treated it while still in place. I'm seeing little bits of green and have my fingers crossed. I really like my south seas and even thou it can be replaced it takes a good three years to get a good nice clump. Good luck, hope you can save it. Pat

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 10:05PM
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njmomma(z6 NJ)

yikes. well, I've learned a bit reading this post and responses. So far mine are ok but a bunch are not performing very well this year - smaller blooms and less buds. I'm just assuming it's the heat and/or lack of deep watering.

I put the hose on a little just so the water flows out, not on high, and put it near the base of the plant. I have mulch around my plants so I can't see the soil, but I leave it on for 5 minutes and then move it to the next under-achiever in my garden.

I attached a link here about crown rot.

Here is a link that might be useful: What causes crown rot

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 10:18PM
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Hi dpc5555. I am sorry about your South Seas Daylily. I hope it survives. If it does not, I am glad to give you a couple fans of South Seas to replace your loss next year. Let me know. I live in PA.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 2:19PM
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It's a good thing daylilies are the carefree perennial ! At least that is how they are advertised . Doesnt sound like this is really the case with all this stuff going on .


    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 6:26PM
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