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Unusual Poor lily performance & revitalization help?

Posted by taupe79 z5 Illinois (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 5, 13 at 14:05

I was wondering if anyone had noticed this: in my zone 5 area, lilies performed poorly this year... Few blooms, no reblooming , and immediate foliage dieback. Even the easy care Stella d'oros bloomed once and then the foliage died back to the ground. Ive noticed it in my neighborhood and in my travels around Illinois & Missouri. Anyone have insight? And what should I do to help my lilies through the remainder if this season and into next year? I have "ditch lilies", Stella's, various day lilies as well as tiger & asiatic (not the same family, I know, but only slightly better performance). Help!!! :)

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RE: Unusual Poor lily performance & revitalization help?

Taupe, I looked at your member page to see if I could learn more about your garden. You said one red four letter word! CLAY! and then added another, UNAMMENDED!

I'm well acquainted with that situation, and glad to have left it behind.

Clay is hard to deal with. Mine was red alkaline clay. Not impossible, but challenging. Amending is really important, but you will also want consider having regular soil testing, particularly if you do anything non-organic or drastic.

I encourage natural compost for clay. You can save kitchen scraps, leaves, grass clippings, etc. A friend of mine building a new garden just turned in the grass clippings everywhere she could. Loosened the soil right up. I was afraid it would be too hot as the grass decomposed, but she was just putting a dab here and a dab there.

You grow a lot of things. Your garden must be huge! Did you have enough rain this year? A hot summer without rain can turn clay into brick. And daylilies bloom best when they have plenty of rain.

For revitalizing, I used alfalfa pellets or meal and Scott's winterizer lawn fertilizer in the fall. When the soil warms up in the Spring, I used Milorganite. A nursery in that clay country mixed a fertilizer which had all the trace minerals our soil lacked, and that was also wonderful to use.

Are you using mulch? What kind? Do you know your soil pH? Generally pine bark is better if your clay is alkaline. Cypress mulch has been known to inhibit plant growth somewhat, while alfalfa has a plant growth hormone in it.

I found that tall phlox revitalized the soil naturally. Also Four O-Clocks with their long tap root broke up clay that I couldn't. After a few years growing these two plants, the soil under them became mellow and I had a new garden spot.

Maybe something from my experience will help you. I hope so.

Now I have a fragile sandy loam over a clay base with a slightly acid pH. That's quite different, and ever so easy to manage with the leaf mulch that falls naturally. I'm a happy gardener.

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