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Learn about daylilies at annual show

DaylilyDalylilies are tough, adaptable perennials. There are varieties in a wide range of colors.

The Chicagoland Daylily Society will hold its annual flower show July 19 and 20, 2014, at The Morton Arboretum. Society members will bring their blooms to compete for prizes. Arboretum visitors are invited to vote for Best in Group and Best in Show awards. Admission to the show is free with Arboretum admission.

The show also is an excellent opportunity for gardeners to learn more about growing these tough, adaptable, long-lived perennials.

Daylilies are not true lilies but are members of the genus Hemerocallis, native to Asia. They are called daylilies because each bloom lasts for only a day, although a plant can produce numerous blooms on a stalk, or scape, over a period of weeks in early to midsummer. An established clump of daylilies can produce hundreds of flowers in a season.

Some daylily varieties, called repeat-blooming, can produce another stalk and bloom again later in the season.

There are more than 35,000 named cultivated varieties of daylilies, in every color from pale yellow to deep purple. Some varieties have elaborately ruffled petals, double petals, or slender spidery petals. Some varieties bloom at night or are fragrant. They vary in the size of the plant and the height of the stalk from 18 inches to 30 inches or more.

Daylilies flower best in full sun, with a minimum of six hours of sun a day. They are adaptable to most soils but prefer a soil that is well-drained with plenty of organic matter.

They should not be planted near trees and shrubs, because they will compete for nutrients and water.

Most daylilies form clumps and are well-behaved in the garden. However, the common orange daylily that is often seen growing along roadsides, the tawny daylily or ditch lily (Hemerocallis fulva), spreads by underground runners and is listed as an invasive plant in several states. It is not a native wildflower but is an Asian plant that escaped from gardens in the 18th century.