Daylilies are flowering plants belonging to the genus Hemerocallis. Different daylily species have been bred since long by both professional horticulturists and gardening enthusiasts. These plants are grown as well as bred for their exquisite blooms that appear in various colors and forms. Over the years, local as well as global Hemerocallis societies have registered several thousand cultivars. Currently, Hemerocallis is classified in the family Xanthorrhoeaceae and sub-family Hemerocallidoideae. However, previously Hemerocallis belonged to the Liliaceae family, which also comprises the true lilies.
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Daylilies are perennially growing plants, whose name implies flowers that usually last for only 24 hours. Most daylily species produce flowers that open very early in the morning and fade on the following night and may perhaps be reinstated by another bloom on the same flowering stalk called scape on the following day. Some daylily species bloom during the night. Although daylilies are usually not used for formal cut flower arrangements, they make excellent cut flowers, as new blooms keep opening on the cut scapes over many days.
Hemerocallis has its origin in Eurasia, counting countries like China, Japan and Korea. Plants belonging to this genus are well liked by people across the world owing to their ostentatious blooms as well as hardiness of various types. In all, there are more than 60,000 registered daylily cultivars. Several hundred daylily cultivars produce fragrant flowers and an increasing number of aromatic cultivars are emerging more often in hybridization programs undertaken in different regions of the northern hemisphere. A number of daylily cultivars bloom twice - once during the flowering season and again later in the season, especially if the capsules of these cultivars, wherein the seeds develop, are removed after the first flowering.
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Nearly all varieties of daylilies are found as clumps, each clump having a crown, leaves, flowers and roots. The straight, long and lance-shaped leaves of daylilies are clumped to form opposite fans having bending leaves. The crown is basically a small whitish part found between the plant's leaves and the roots. Along the scapes of some varieties of daylilies, you can see small luxuriant proliferations appear in the bracts or at the nodes. Usually, a proliferations develop roots when they come in contact with soil or are planted in a potting mix. By and large, these proliferations are precise clones of their parent plants. Several types of daylilies have a condensed root system, which stores food and water for the plant.
The daylily eyes have developed from species that had dark eyes in their blooms. Ever since, hybridizers have been able to make amazing as well as dramatic modifications in the eye zone features of the flowers. Over a period of time, breeders have successfully modified other features of the daylily flower to develop mesmerizing patterns in the bloom itself.
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The size of a daylily flower's eye can vary from an extremely slender band to covering almost the entire petal. Hybridizers have modified the shape of the flower's eyes, developing chevron-shaped, triangular or squarish eyes. They have also altered the color of the eye and currently several different eye zone colors can be found in daylily blooms. Precisely speaking, the blue color found in daylilies can now only be found in the eye zone. Moreover, hybridizers have intensified the color of the eyes to make them appear conspicuous, dark, saturated almost black, in addition to bright blood-reds. The efforts of hybridizers to illuminate the background color of the petals have balanced the deepened colors of the flowers' eyes, thereby augmenting the contrast in the blooms.
Any daylily bloom that displays differences in color, worth or dispersion of its base, midrib or the color of the throat region in a manner that it creates a design clear of a solid or bold eye, halo, band or watermark having or devoid of simple picotee edging is said to have a "patterning". Such "patterning" comprises, but is never restricted to, daylilies having concentric rings or color feathering inside the eye zone or anywhere else. However, it does not include simple bitones, selfs and simple bicolors.
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Apart from the solid or bold eyes, hybridizers have endeavoured to increase the complexity of the bloom by developing patterns inside the eye zone or anywhere else in the flower. There are a number of daylily hybrids that split the eye into separate bands, which may either be of the color of the flower or any other color. There are further complex eyes that include veining of different colors inside the eye. In some flowers, they appear to pour out into the body of the petal. Then again, there are several patterns that have a faded or washed look inside the eye. In fact, it appears that the assortment of complex patterns that are emerging in modern day daylilies is infinite.
In addition, the colors of the daylily bloom's eye zone have been painted alongside the edge of the petals to develop a pattern known as picotee. Such picotee edges first emerged in the form of small line of color that extended from the eye zone touching the edges of the petals. Gradually, the efforts of hybridizers helped to push the color of the eye zone were further around the edge of the petals till it formed a border of deep contrasting color that surrounded the flower petals completely.
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Today, most daylilies having picotee edges have eyes matching with the color of the picotee. However, still some hybrid daylily blooms come with a relatively darker edge, but with no eye. Daylily flowers with picotee edges but without an eye zone that we see today do not have dark, spectacular or contrasting edges as those that are accompanied with an eye. Currently, hybridizers are working hard to develop daylily blooms that will have more spectacular and contrasting picotee edges, but with no eye zone.
When we refer to picotee, we actually mean a flower variety whose edges have a color that is different from the base of the flower. This term has its origin in the French word picoté, which denotes marked with points.
Over the years, hybridizers have worked to increase the width of picotee edges. In fact, very recently, hybridizers have been successful in creating daylily flowers whose picotee edges are bordered by secondary edges in a variety of hues, including white, gold and silver. This type of intricacy has led to a spectacular and, occasionally, shocking effect in the modern daylily hybrids. In some daylily flowers, the eyes have turn out to be so big and the edges have become so wide that very little of the petal self is actually visible.
These days, we can also see plicata or stippled eyes appearing in many hybridizing programs. The petal color of these daylilies comprises splotches or dots, instead of having any solid color. Generally, plicata or stippling patterns are darker splotches or dots on the petal background having a paler hue. There are different types of stippling - one that can cover the whole petal or the second type wherein the stippling is restricted only to eye zone. In addition, hybridizers have put in plenty of efforts to modify the hue of the petal edges as well as the throat region of the flowers. In fact, daylily flowers with picottee or darker edges are extremely popular these days. However, flowers of some daylily cultivars come with paler petal edges, especially the reds that have pale pink or rose hued edges. Hybridizers have also been successful in developing a shining shade, occasionally called appliqué in the throat region of the flowers.