Dead-head daylilies

Alien pods land in yellow lawn

Was a time when the word Dead Head meant only one thing to this former 80s punk rock chick: a group of cultish but congenial, long-haired, tie-dye loving — and generally not-so-hygienic — folk who followed the Grateful Dead around the country in VW buses.

Now… well, it’s on my garden to-do list for tomorrow.

I am getting a little (little?) nerdy here. And like all nerdy pursuits, it’s so much fun!

So… above is one of the daylilies I bought at Home Depot to fill in my Happy Bed a few weeks ago. A Vigoro brand “Big Time Happy” daylily — a Hemerocallis hybrid, it turns out. Well, per my usual pattern, it looked pretty good for about a week and then started looking like this. Ever-hopeful, I assumed the shriveled green alien-looking pods on the ends of its stems were buds. And I got all disappointed when they did not open, despite my careful watering, feeding and monitoring. (I have recently run across the gardener adage “a watched bud never blooms…” or something like that.)

Anyway, I posted a query on GardenWeb, which I am really starting to love, and a savvy gardener replied that my “buds” might be “seed pods that formed after the blooms you saw were self or wind or insect pollinated. Certain cultivars – especially Stella de Oro and her clan – are very prone to natural pollination and thus develop seed pods on several scapes.”

This very interesting suggestion sent me on googling frenzy, in which I quickly determined that Mr. Big Time Happy is indeed in Stella’s clan and the green things in question are indeed seed pods. (Did several image searches and found these very excellent — and more importantly, funny — pictures and directions for how to handle said seed pods. The picture labeled “Here are what most daylillies look like when not cared for properly (from a neighbor’s yard)” is particularly apropos. If Mr. Life and Lawns blogger was not in Chicago, I would fear he’d been out snapping “Don’t” pictures in my garden.)

Life and Lawns’ instructive, illustrated guide recommended cutting the seed pod stems way back, or “dead-heading” them. And then, he promised, there will be MORE BLOOMS! For months to come! (Unless the stalks have dried up on their own, he warns, then the plant sees no point in “replacing” what is already dead.)

I hope I’m not too late!

I heart the Inter-tubes.


About plantkiller

Paysha Rhone is a wife, mother, former-journalist-turned-PR-maven and bad mamajama killing plants in the Victorian splendor of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
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