Growing daylilies in pots

Nancy zone 6July 24, 2014

I know lots of you grow some daylilies in pots. I have 2 or 3 this year that I'm thinking maybe I should try it. They looked ok last year, not fantastic, only a couple of fans, but healthy. This year they just don't look as good, especially now that the heat has hit. I'm always hesitant at growing in a pot, afraid I will either forget to water it, or overwater & it will rot. Do you use regular potting soil? How much do you water, do you set it in full sun or partial shade? Usually this time of year is when I lose a few weaker plants, I would really like to stop that cycle.

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Maryl zone 7a

I'm sure there are all types of ways to grow them in pots but to me the growing medium is critical when it comes to survival. It has to be very well drained or rot will set in, particularly in the early spring and over winter. I start with a base potting mix that is a special blend from a private nursery. It is basically coarse builders sand (not the kind for the kids sand boxes) and compost with a small amount of bark fines mixed in. It is perfect for roses in pots all on it's own, but I've found with daylilies that I must mix even more ingredients in to ensure proper drainage. So I add bark fines, perlite and Aquarium gravel. I couldn't find the size bark fines I liked prepackaged so now I make my own. I have a compost screen that I put over my wheel barrow and then I sift Pine Bark much through it. The smaller pieces I add to my daylily potting mix, the larger pieces I toss onto my borders and beds. I didn't like the Aquarium Gravel at Walmart as much as I liked the more expensive colored brands from Petco. This was after years of experimenting around. The Petco brand has sharper edges and is not as large and round so it doesn't plug up the drainage holes. Anyway, that's the blend that has worked the best for me............Maryl

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 2:05AM
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opnjmprs

I'm also interested in what mix others use in their pots. I have a few late arrivals that I will have to pot up and leave sitting in a sun window over the winter. I had 2 new plants come in this spring and developed crown rot. I treated the plants with a Clorox solution and removed the rotted areas. I potted in a mix of 1 part miracle gro potting soil to 2 parts cedar fines, and added a 1 TBS of Osmocote slow release fertilizer and have managed to save 2 fans of those plants. I use a soil wetness meter to determine when to water, as the cedar fines do seem to hold moisture very well, and the last thing those plants need is to be overly moist.

Linda

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 10:04AM
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Nancy zone 6

Surprisingly, sounds like I've got all the ingredients here, even the aquarium gravel, although i think mine probably came from Walmart. I'll give it a try. I have 3 that I really think need special attention. Finally found Mee Ying after searching all year. It even has a bloom scape, although I sure don't remember it blooming. It has several fans, but really looks sad.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 10:21AM
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Maryl zone 7a

Linda: Not to sound like Ms. Know It All, but in my experimenting around I found that Miracle Gro potting mix just doesn't work out in the long haul even when cut with other ingredients. Miracle Gro has peat moss in it and the last thing a daylily needs is a medium that retains water. Plus in the eventuality that you should let it get too dry, you then have to flood it to get the peat moss to begin absorbing moisture again. Not good for daylily roots. Now Miracle Gro did have a blend that was called "organic" that was a little better, but by and large one needs to stay away from any sort of peat moss filler in their potting mix. Also as you found out, Cider mulch isn't really suited as an additive to a mix. There's the generic "bark mulch" but you never know what trees are being used and some trees can contain chemical hindrances to growth. Pine bark mulch really is the best I've found for the purpose of mixing in with the compost and other ingredients....My oldest daylily has been in a pot for over 8 years. Ironically it started out with crown rot and I saved it as you described with a Clorox solution. It was a somewhat bumpy ride for my long term daylilies over the years until I finally settled on this latest rendition of my potting mix formula. I'm still tinkering with it now and then, but it's usually proportions of this and that as opposed to any new ingredients. What's interesting to me is that as well drained as this mix is, it still isn't suitable for Succulents and Cactus and although I use this mix as a base I'm still having to fiddle around with it to get even better drainage. I sometimes feel like a Chef with all this mixing and "tasting" going on trying to come up with the perfect potting mix cake..........Maryl

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 2:16PM
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opnjmprs

Maryl, Thanks a lot for the info. Except for seedlings, I don't usually grow daylilies in pots. I took one of the plants that had crown rot out of the pot it was in.....it did have a good number of new white roots coming out from the crown. I went and got some builder's sand from up by our barn, also had some aquarium gravel on hand, as well as well composted horse manure, and mixed that in with the bark mulch/ soil mix the plant had been growing in. Hopefully that will improve the drainage, and allow for even better root growth. I was relieved to see that there were no more indications of rot, and will continue to monitor the moisture level in those pots before I decide to water them. Of all the new plants I might add to the garden in any given year, it never fails that the ones I like the most are numbered among the few that develop crown rot. All the others seem to settle in just fine. Anyway.....thanks again for the advice I really appreciate it.

Linda

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 4:58PM
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twixanddud(z5/6 SE Mich)

Nancy, for the ones I grow or have grown in pots, I use a mix of half Miracle Grow potting soil (from Costco) and half pine fines (I can't remember exactly what it's called, but it's a Fafard product that I have to drive an hour to get) and I put in a little Osmocote. I have had some in pots this way for a few years - the pots are about 3 gallon pots I think. It might not be the ideal mix for pots, but it's worked for me in Michigan... ymmv

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 5:30PM
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jean_ar(z8 Ar)

Maybe,I have been just plain lucky as I have been using miracle grow moisture control potting mix for last 2 years for daylilies and have not lost any as yet, in the pots, but,I have lost some planted ones.WhenI started losing the planted ones,I am slowly digging them back up and putting in pots.I grew them in the plain miracle grow planting mix for awhile, only because the potting soil I was using from wal mart ran out.I always planted every thing in their potting soil which is called GARDNERS CHOICE and it was real good for all plants but, they didn't have any more when I went back for more,so I had to change to the miracle grow. and never liked any miracle grow products, but had no choice as it was the only thing I could get.Since then,I have had very good results with it, so stuck with it this past few years.Just got another big sack of it Monday for some more I am trying to get dug up and into pots,The soil here where I am is just no good I guess. Every thing I have planted through the years will live for 3 years, then it dies.even 30 years ago, the husband planted fruit trees and they lived 3 to 4 years and they died.All of my potted daylilies sits right out in the boiling hot sun all day. no shade for any of them before sundown and I water everything nearly every day during hot summer, unless we get a good hard rain.Some times they get watered twice in a day.
well, just my 2 cents in,of what I do with daylilies.oh, and most all of my daylilies are sitting on cement, on the sidewalk where I don't walk, or around a goldfish pool that is not used any more.

jean

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 5:43PM
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jean_ar(z8 Ar)

Forgot to mention I have over 100 daylilies in 2.5 gallon pots. Only 2 of them are in bigger pots.WONDER OF IT ALL and CHINA BRIDE are in pots 14 inch in diameter, not sure about gallons, but, must be 3.5 or maybe 4 gallon size.I love the blooms so much on them,I didn't want to divide them, so just moved them up to bigger pots.Some time before next spring,I will take them out of the pots and repot them in fresh potting mix, as they seem to be packed pretty good in these pots right now.They are still looking very healthy, but, its time to give them frsh soil I think.
goog luck with growing in pots.

jean

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 6:09PM
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Nancy zone 6

Wow Jean, I don't know how you take care of so many potted plants. But I guess no more work than others rather than the regular watering. I'm really bad about watering, but maybe if I keep them close to the door where I see them, I will remember. Thanks everyone for the advice.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 9:08PM
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Maryl zone 7a

Linda: it sounds like you have it about right. Jean: If it works for you I say that's great. MG Moisture control is one I particularly avoid, yet you seem to be having good luck with it in the short run. Having seen your daylilies I can attest to how nice they look. It is also to be noted that I've noticed the rootier and more established the daylily is the less prone to crown rot it seems to be during the summer/fall. I assume it's because the roots can handle a bit of overwatering if they are filling the pots. The trickiest time for me has always been over winter and spring when the roots are still semi-dormant. If too much moisture accumulates it often leads to rot no matter what the potting mix is. And of course there's just plain old winter cold that can get to the roots in a small pot in a really cold winter, which is what we had last year for instance. When you grow in pots it's like the old Saturday Night Live person said " It's always something"....Maryl

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 9:45PM
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nat4b(4)

I wish I could grow in pots. I could add so many more! But my last year experiment showed that it doesn't work here easily. I used Miracle gro moisture control btw. I also put the pots on the side. And one died during the winter another rotted in the spring (I had a part of one in the garden, it was just an experiment). This year I will try to overwinter several seedling in pots in the garage (it's not attached).

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 11:23PM
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jean_ar(z8 Ar)

well, maybe its just luck.I have had daylilies growing in pots for over 5 years and have not lost any yet, in the pots. ones I lost was planted ones.And so far,I have not repotted any in fresh soil either,I did add some to the pots after some got washed out the bottom.Miracle grow potting mix dries out fast, being peat moss,so I have to water daily just about during the summer.Dont water them in the winter, unless we go along time with no rain, then I go out and check them to see if they need water.They still stay out in the same place during the winter, too,and I meant to put pine straw around them this past winter, but,, had some issues to deal with and forgot all about it.but, they all made it just fine.

jean

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 7:07PM
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shive(6b TN)

After my horrible experience last winter, my recommendation is DON'T, unless you absolutely have to. Mine were very well drained with plenth of perlite and they still perished.

Debra

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 7:20PM
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Nancy zone 6

I know Debra, I'm just hoping to give them a good start. Maybe if I nurture them in pots just for a couple of months & put them in the ground in late September or so. I'm definitely going to have to move them from where they are, at least a couple of them. A big problem is the plants are so much smaller than the ones next to them, they are overshadowed.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 9:17PM
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organic_kitten(8)

I put mine in pots if they are in trouble to let them "catch up". I also put new ones in pots til they get over the shock of being dug, cut, and sent in the mail. Then they don't realize they've been planted, but they go in the ground as soon as the site is ready and they are. Last winter, the ones in pots went in the heated greenhouse and did fine...even when the heater died, the window blew out and killed my coffee plants and my huge stephoenitis vine (spelling, I know). But I will not reliably water properly in winter and I know it, so unless it is an emergency, they will all be in the ground before then. (I use Miracle Gro)

kay

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 11:08AM
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opnjmprs

This has been an interesting thread.....thanks everyone for your input. I won't be leaving my pots outside over the winter. I will move them to a room that has a big window facing the south. I keep my tender pond tropical plants in a tub in that window during the winter, and they always do well there until I can move them back to the pond in the spring. I figure if the tropical plants get enough light to survive through the winter, the daylilies should do ok too.

Linda

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 2:06PM
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Maryl zone 7a

Oh yes, last winter was a real bummer. It wiped out about 40% of my daylilies in pots. I don't use large pots on my daylilies as I need to be able to lift them myself and move them to winter quarters. Most are in 8 to 10 inch pots. The larger the pot the better the chance of survival on any plant. In my zone (7A) we seldom get into the single digits. Usually there are some teens for a few days at a time, but nothing like last year with weeks at a time with temperatures hovering at zero to 10 degrees. I just hadn't sheltered many of my daylilies well enough to tolerate that length of a cold spell............Linda: I overwintered some of my 4-6 inch pots in my attached unheated garage and they survived just fine. However overwintering inside can have it's hazards. I don't know how it happens, but for some reason Aphids always seem to find my daylilies in the garage. In a sheltered environment BOY, do they explode. Too, the warmth stimulates early growth that if allowed to grow on is too weak to do well once placed outdoors all day. These are not tropicals, not houseplants, but plants that were meant for growing outside. So as soon as the new growth starts I begin hardening them off. That's in and out of the garage usually every day until they can manage to stay outside permanently........But again this is my personal experience. Every garden has its own microclimates and every gardener has their own color thumb. A horticulturlist friend of mine told me he once tried to discourage a neighbor from planting a Japanese Maple in full sun (in our climate PM shade is best). The guy did it anyway, and contrary to all the rules of science and common sense, the tree lived (as the neighbor repeatedly stopped by to tell my friend)......Maryl

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 3:23PM
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