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Archive for Sunday, June 6, 2010

After 35 years, Stella d’ Oro still the best

June 6, 2010

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The Stella d’ Oro daylily was introduced in 1975 and has become the selection in which all others are compared. Now, 35 years later, it is still the best, rising in prominence in both the commercial and residential landscape.

It is the earliest blooming daylily and the latest, allowing it to be mass-planted in bold drifts and partnered with other perennials in an exquisite show of color. Despite this long history of use, there are still sizzling combinations to be made, causing many to wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Just down the street from my home I encountered one such planting and felt compelled to say those words. It is a planting so stunning I go out of my way every day just to marvel at its beauty.

The incredible backdrop of color for the Stella d’ Oro is an informal cluster of large blue hydrangeas. I suppose they might be Nikko Blue, but that is really irrelevant as there are dozens of good blue hydrangeas, when planted in acidic soil. (In alkaline soil they would be pink.)

But what makes the planting so showy is a simple matter of using the complementary, or opposites attract, color scheme. The almost iridescent blue is from the cool side of the color wheel and is made even more dynamic by the use of the yellow gold of the Stella d’ Oro daylily, which, of course, is a warm color.

Stella d’ Oro daylilies bloom best if they receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. They prefer raised beds rich in organic matter. Other than a few insect problems, almost every problem call I get on daylilies originates with soggy soils.

Be sure to add a good layer of mulch to hold moisture, keep the soil cool and prevent weeds. My favorite mulch is pine straw, but I have to admit that a layer of pine bark mulch around Stella d’ Oro daylilies is really striking.

Daylilies are best planted in the early spring or fall, although container-grown plants can be planted throughout the growing season with outstanding success. Since it is such a prolific flower producer, Stella d’ Oro likes to be fed with a complete and balanced fertilizer every four to six weeks.

As I mentioned, the Stella d’ Oro is well-suited to massing and can be grown in bold drifts with perennials, annuals or and colorful shrubs like the hydrangea. If the hydrangea idea doesn’t work in your situation, try growing Stella d’ Oro to the rear of a bed with Purple Wave petunias planted in front.

My favorite use is planted in drifts with perennial salvia like Victoria Blue or Indigo Spires. Stella d’ Oro looks at home when combined in beds with ornamental grasses like Fountain or Maiden Grass and planted in front of evergreen shrubs like hollies or junipers.

Stella d’ Oro use to be considered a little pricey, but now after so many years you’ll find it generally no more expensive than other perennials. Since it is a clump-forming perennial, you’ll soon be dividing, which means more of the glorious color around the home.

If you’ve tried Stella d Oro but only spot-planted or dabbled, to say the least, why not be a bold gardener and try planting a dozen? You’ll see a dramatic change in your bed.

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