The garden perennials are hitting their stride this week as the daylilies and coneflowers come into bloom. I thought I’d remind you of a few small details about these two plants that can make your gardening life quite a bit more interesting and get you some free plants in the bargain.
- The first is that while both are sun-loving plants, the daylilies will take quite a bit more shade than the coneflower. A daylily in part shade will still bloom if you give it a good 6-8 hours of sunshine. A coneflower will get tall and leggy as soon as you reduce the sunlight it needs and the floppy plants are your clue that you need to find a sunnier spot.
- They both survive nicely in the full sun garden where they get blasted by the heat. They’ll both shrug off the heat particularly if you give them a bit of water to keep themselves hydrated. Both plants will severely restrict flowering if you give them full sun and drought conditions so do plan on running a hose out to them if you want blooms. Both want great drainage and not too much winter wet although daylilies will take more clay in the soil and more moisture than will coneflowers. So if you have a bit of clay soil or a damp spot, try daylilies but stay away from the coneflowers for this area.
- Both plants make great cut flowers although each flower on a daylily will only last one day. You have to keep removing the spent blossoms as the next one opens up. Coneflower, on the other hand, will last several weeks in a vase if you can stand to cut them and remove them from the garden show. You simply need to make sure you get a lot more plants to grow.
And this is so easy for both of these plants that I’m about to launch a full growing programme myself in the new garden. On our home scale of things, the easiest thing to do is collect the seeds from each plant before the birds get them.
- In the case of daylilies, the seed pods will start to brown and wither and the seeds will be black. This means they’re ripe.
- With the coneflower, as soon as the seeds will rub off in your hand easily when you rub the seedhead, they are ripe. The other sign with coneflower is when you see birds on the seed pods or you notice half of the seed heads are empty of seed. If the birds are eating them, you can collect them as well.
How To Store Them Over The Winter
Store them cool and dry over the winter and then sow them in the spring.
I’ve written about sowing perennial seeds before so I won’t repeat myself here.
Do The Baby Plants Look Like The Original Plant?
What is going to happen though is that because the plants you’re starting with are hybrids, you’re going to get a full range of the parent plants in the seedlings.
- From a white coneflower, you’re going to get a ton of different shades of purple.
- From the newer yellow and orange plants, the color range will be even larger.
- And the heights will all be different as well. This is what you want. Because you’re going to grow them all in a row somewhere where you can see them flower and decide if you like the color, the height and the length of time the plant blooms.
- The ones you like are transplanted to other parts of your garden and the ones you don’t… well, they get composted or given to other gardeners to play with.
A Really Easy Way To Get New Coneflower Plants
This is so easy, you don’t even have to collect and store the seed but rather let it fall around the mother plant.
The ants and mice will get quite a few but some will survive to germinate the following spring.
Dig up the seedlings in the spring and move them to a growing area where you can evaluate them.
Do not let them stay around the mother plant as they will not be the same (remember they’re hybrids) as the mother variety and they’ll take away from the beauty of that original hybrid.
Trust me on that, some of these plants will be really ugly colors and you won’t want them in your garden.
If you want an easy coneflower from seed, let me suggest the Cheyenne Spirit mix. Fantastic colors and you can easily grow these yourself.
Do The Same Thing With Daylilies
You can do exactly the same thing with daylilies. I haven’t bothered to do this in the past but my daylilies produce amazing amounts of seed.
I figure there’s a good plant or two in those seeds so I’m setting up an area in the new garden to evaluate a few every year. I’m calling it my mini-nursery area and the good plants will go into the garden.
The rejects – the majority of plants – will go out into the fields surrounding our house to lend a little mid-summer color to the landscape. This field planting will be the same for both the coneflowers and the daylilies. There’s little sense wasting plants even if I don’t want them in the garden; this is even truer when there are a few acres of hayfield to fill up.
How Long Does It Take For These Plants To Bloom?
You should see a bloom from the coneflowers in their second year of growth and the daylilies will produce blooms in their third year.
This assumes of course that you’re taking care of them with adequate water and fertility.
This is the easy way of getting new plants for your own garden and ensuring that they are uniquely yours. The tough part in all of this is throwing away those plants that are the low end of the scale, either in looks or disease resistance or flowering time or whatever characteristic makes a great garden plant for you.
Finally, let me assure you that you can do exactly the same thing for all perennials. The baby plants won’t come true from seed and resemble the fancy hybrid but you can get some interesting plants by saving your own seed.