Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Wee Willie Winkie daylily

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An essential flower: any daylily in bloom after Summer's started to slide into Fall.  Even one with as hurt-your-teeth-it's-so-sugary a name as 'Wee Willie Winkie'.

 

'Willie' is wee only in his flowers themselves.  The plants are the normal size and the flower-stalks can get to three or four feet, making the teensy-weensy flowers all the more striking.  

 

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'Willie' is in a part of the garden I find that I don't enter for a month or two at a time—as you can tell by the sorry foliage and generally sketchy grooming.  In fact, it was only because 'Willie' blooms sooo late in the daylily season—September into October—did this garden finally catch my eye.

 

And there 'Willie' was, waving at me with full force and forgiveness.  

 

 

Here's how to grow this tough and dramatically-late-blooming perennial:

 

Latin Name

Hemerocallis 'Wee Willie Winkie'

Common Name

'Wee Willie Winkie' daylily

Family

Xanthorrhoeaceae, the Grasstree family.  (Grasstrees are Australian oddities that look as if a trunked yucca and a fountain grass had been thrown into a blender.  Ah, the eccentricities of gardening Down Under.)

What kind of plant is it?

Deciduous perennial.

Hardiness

Zones 3 - 10.

Habit

Clumping and upright. 

Rate of Growth

Fast when happy.

Size in ten years

A clump two to three feet across and, in bloom, three to four feet tall.

Texture

Arching narrow grassy foliage typical of daylilies, but the tall spikes of unusually small flowers are an airy late-season surprise.

Grown for

its flowers:  With so many hybrid daylilies being bred for larger and larger flowers—I have one cultivar with spidery blooms nearly a foot wide—a small-flowered rebellion was inevitable.  Barely two inches wide and long, those of 'Wee Willie Winkie' are some of the smallest.  In a clear yellow long after all the "normal" daylilies are done for the season, they should be part of every garden.

 

its late-season flowering:  What garden doesn't already have at least some daylilies in bloom in July into August?  (I've probably got twenty cultivars, with more to come.)  How cool to have daylilies that don't even start tap-dancing until September, and are still at it in October.

Flowering season

Late Summer: September into October.

Culture

Daylilies are so easy that "culture" is an overstatement.  Almost any soil that isn't truly wet or dry, in full sun to part shade. 

How to handle it

Daylilies are the definition of easy-care, but that doesn't mean no care.  Cut off spent flower stalks; if you're lazy and wait until they are thoroughly brown and dry, they just pull off.  Even easier: The foliage can get shabby by the time flowering is through, but you can cut the entire clump down to a couple of inches, flower stalks and all, which will quickly bring forth a fresh crop of leaves that will be attractive the rest of the season.

 

Really tidy gardeners groom their daylilies, well, daily, pulling off yesterday's spent flowers.  It does look better, but I'm lucky if I get to it once a week.  

 

You can pull away the dead foliage after hard frost—or just leave it until Spring.  Or you can ignore it entirely: the clumps will sprout right up through it next season. 

 

Daylily flowers are fully edible, with only a mild lettuce taste but with color and surprise-value no lettuce could dream of.  Daylily flowers normally close at dusk, and aren't very attractive after that either, so lunchtime is the usual period for daylily munching.  Nocturnal daylilies, though, keep their flowers perky and open far into the night, so can grace even midnight feasts.

 

Daylilies naturalize easily—a sign of just how self-reliant and easy-going they are.  If the Summer (or your climate) is really hot and dry, though, the foliage will scorch unless you provide occasional water.

Downsides

Daylilies are an easy snack for deer, alas, who will also chew the foliage.  Slugs can torment the foliage, too.  

Variants

There are tens of thousands of cultivars available, with more hundreds debuting yearly.  Flowers can be from near-white to pink and rose, or pale yellow to brick-red, and in size from an inch or two to nearly a foot.  Flower spikes can be a foot tall to nearly six feet.  Bloom peak is mostly in July into August, so cultivars that flower before and after are especially valuable.  Some cultivars are notably fragrant.  Noctural "daylilies" flower at night.  A very few have striped foliage, but their flowers are usually secondary.  

 

The evergreen cultivars thrive in Zone 7 and up.

 

Availability

On-line and at specialist retailers.

Propagation

By division almost any time, with early Spring and August (the latter so the divisions have time to establish before hard frost) preferred.

Native habitat

Hemerocallis are native to Asia.  'Wee Willie Winkie' was hybridized in Indiana in 1963.

 
 
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