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This Week's "Let's Grow" Column

Daylilies under fences and around obstacles can save you hours of work every year, forever. (GoodSeed Farm photo)
Daylilies and Ditch Lilies
Published June 17th, 2018

We all learned in high school science class that “Nature abhors a vacuum”. If there’s an empty space something will always fill it; in fact there can be no such thing as a truly empty space. Gardeners are well aware of this, having observed firsthand that weeds in gardens and lawns do best when there’s no competition.

All of nature, all living things, are in relentless competition with each other for food, water and ideal growing conditions. Smart gardeners understand what the ideal conditions are for any plant in the landscape, and attempt to match the plant with conditions it prefers. Nature itself will correct any errors.

“Ditch lilies” are a terrific example. Right now it’s easy to see them along the roadside, cheerfully blooming bright orange. These are the native Hemerocallis, commonly called “tiger lilies” or “ditch lilies”. All Hemerocallis are referred to as daylilies because each individual flower only blooms for one day. Their show lasts for weeks because new buds are constantly forming and opening to replace the ones that are fading.

If you look closely at colonies of tiger lilies along the roadsides you’ll see that they naturally “colonize”, forming dense clumps that spread underground. If you’ve ever tried to separate and thin a colony of daylilies you can understand why very few other plants manage to survive among a colony of established daylilies. The fingerlike roots of daylilies, called rhizomes, are so densely intertwined that they choke out all but the most determined invaders, winning the battle for food, water and sunlight by overwhelming other vegetation.

Daylilies are very easy to cross-breed, creating an endless variety of colorful hybrids. While their bloom shape, color and size may vary widely, all daylilies share the dense root system and colonizing habit of the native ditch lilies. The way tiger lilies thrive in the moist, sunny conditions and rich soil in roadside ditches tells us what growing conditions all daylilies prefer.

What part of this lesson can we apply in our home landscapes? First, that daylilies in the right conditions will thrive and dominate with almost zero maintenance. If you take the trouble to till and enrich the soil, daylilies will rapidly establish themselves and squeeze out weeds and lawn grasses. When they’re not in bloom they have the lush look of ornamental grasses.

So, where would you use this plant to reduce your maintenance chores? How about starting under all the fences you have to Roundup or “weed-eat” every summer weekend? Nobody enjoys this drudgery, and it’s hard on your fence posts year after year. If just once you cleaned out and loosened the soil in a two-foot wide strip under your fences, planted some daylily divisions, and put down some mulch around them, you could kiss this onerous chore goodbye forever.

Tired of trimming around light poles, fire hydrants, guy wires and other obstructions around your yard? Make planting beds around them and start some daylily plants. The same trick works along walls on the sunny side of garages and sheds. You have to mulch them for a year or two and keep them free of weeds, and then they’ll take over and do the job for you. Easy and pretty. Problem solved!

Steve Boehme is a landscape designer/installer specializing in landscape “makeovers”. “Let’s Grow” is published weekly; column archives are online at For more information call GoodSeed Farm Landscapes at (937) 587-7021.

There are 268 weekly columns

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Amur Maple Can Be a Problem Solver
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Are Bradford Pears an Environmental Disaster?
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Bed Preparation for New Gardens
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Bermudagrass Control Timing
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Bermudagrass Revisited
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Boxwood - The Ideal Foundation Shrub
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Bulbs for Early Spring Color
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Bulbs From the Biltmore Estate
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Clematis – Tricks for Success
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Cleveland Pear is Best for Driveways
Published March 28th, 2016

Color from your Winter Garden
Published January 28th, 2018

Colorful Pansies Are Cold-Hardy
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Comparing Fast-growing Shade Trees
Published September 18th, 2017

Composting for the Lazy
Published September 14th, 2014

Connecting Children with Nature
Published December 16th, 2012

Corn - Open Pollinated Varieties
Published June 4th, 2010

Corn Harvesting & Handling
Published July 9th, 2015

Crabgrass & Bermudagrass Must Be Stopped
Published June 28th, 2016

Crape Myrtle in Ohio Landscapes
Published June 8th, 2015

Creeping Phlox
Published April 18th, 2017

Daylilies and Ditch Lilies
Published June 17th, 2018

Daylilies are Pretty and Tough
Published June 20th, 2016

Daylily Mid-Season Refresh
Published July 13th, 2015

Deer & Rabbit Control for Ornamentals
Published April 7th, 2015

Deer Control Starts in September
Published August 25th, 2014

Deer Deterrent Breakthrough
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Deer Resistant Landscaping
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Design - Hate Your Landscaping?
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Design - Necklace vs. Den
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Design - Planning for Practicality
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Dogwood Alternatives
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Dogwood Trees
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Drought Tolerant Plants
Published July 12th, 2010

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Published November 14th, 2017

Fall Color - Paint Box for Gardeners
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Published November 8th, 2010

Fall Housekeeping for Perennials
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Fall is The Best Time to Landscape
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Fall Planting is Best For Plants
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Fall Vegetable Gardening
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Fertilizer – When, What & How
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Fertilizer Timing & Tips
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Fertilizing at the Right Time
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Frost Damage - Preventing It
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Fruit Tree Pests - Controlling Them
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Fruit Trees - Fall Orchard Tips
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Fruit Trees - Spraying for Insects & Diseases
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Garden Clubs for All Ages
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Garden Expo 2016
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Gardeners are Sick of Fast Food
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Gardening - Getting Satisfaction
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Gardening - Pass it On!
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Getting Rid of “Stupid Grass”
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Good Landscaping Starts With Good Design
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Groundcover Plants
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Groundcovers Reduce Weeding, Mulching and Erosion
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Growing Your Own Food
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Heirlooms, Hybrids & GMO’s
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HGTV Unveils Plant Collection
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Hollies - It Takes Two to Berry
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Home Orchards Step By Step
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Hostas Are Problem Solvers for Shade
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How to Treat Buck Rubs on Trees
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Hydrangeas Bloom All Season Long
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Instant Raised Beds Make Growing Food Easy
Published May 19th, 2014

Invasive Honeysuckle
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Invasive Woody Plants Revisited
Published November 19th, 2017

Is Your Pine Tree Dying?
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Japanese Beetles
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Jasna Polana Part I
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Jasna Polana Part II
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Knock-Out Roses for Easy Color
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Lack of Fall Color is Good News for Trees
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Lawn Care Tips for Spring
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Lawn Restoration
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Lilacs - Dwarf Varieties Are Best
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Lilacs - Fragrance & Powdery Mildew
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Low-Stress Landscaping
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Magnolias Are a Solution for Clay Soil
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Meet Pam Bennett, Author & Master Gardener
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Moles: Humane Control Works Best
Published March 20th, 2017

Mosquito Repellent Plants
Published July 30th, 2017

Mosquito Repellent Plants - Fact or Fiction?
Published June 3rd, 2013

Mulch - How to Pick the Right One
Published April 22nd, 2014

Mulch: How Much and Which One?
Published April 18th, 2016

Mums: Early Planting is Best
Published August 25th, 2015

Mums: Early Planting is Best
Published August 18th, 2014

Mushroom Compost: Kryptonite for Gardens
Published April 27th, 2014

Native Plant Landscaping at Brandywine
Published September 24th, 2012

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Published March 20th, 2011

Onion Plants Yield Huge Sweet Onions
Published March 4th, 2012

Onions - Start Early For Success
Published March 16th, 2010

Orchard Plant Labeling
Published April 26th, 2015

Orchards - Fall is the Time to Plant
Published September 5th, 2010

Ornamental Grasses Add Winter Interest
Published October 25th, 2016

OSU Arboretum has Four Seasons of Color
Published October 16th, 2011

Pansies & Kale for Fall Color
Published September 22nd, 2015

Paver Walks Set the Tone
Published December 20th, 2017

Peaches - Nature’s Candy
Published August 10th, 2015

Peonies – Planting and Care
Published May 24th, 2016

Peppers: How Hot is HOT?
Published June 10th, 2014

Perennial Garden Design & Installation
Published May 15th, 2017

Perennials -
Published January 8th, 2010

Perennials Put On a Midsummer Show
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Perennials vs. Annuals
Published June 10th, 2018

Pesticides - Six Favorites
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Pine Bark is the Ultimate Mulch
Published May 18th, 2015

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Plants On Steriods
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Poinsettias Make a Dazzling Show
Published December 20th, 2016

Ponds-Keeping Water Clear
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Potato Planting the Easy Way
Published April 12th, 2015

Potato Planting Timing & Tips
Published March 18th, 2014

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Pruning Evergreen Trees
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Pruning in Late Winter
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Pruning Young Trees Saves Future Cost
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Pumpkins from Amish Family Farms
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Purple Foliage Stands Out in the Landscape
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Raised Bed Soil Recommendations
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Raised Beds Make Gardening Easy
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Raised Beds without Carpentry
Published March 24th, 2014

Raising Annuals From Seed
Published March 3rd, 2013

Raspberries from Your Own Garden
Published June 18th, 2012

Raspberry Shortcake Made Easy
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Relish Recipe & Home Canning
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Retaining Walls Solve Many Landscape Problems
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Ripley Garden Walk
Published September 6th, 2016

River Birch is Beautiful and BIG
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Roses - How to Succeed
Published January 12th, 2013

Roses - Easy Constant Color
Published January 8th, 2010

Roses - What's in a Name?
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Roses – The Best Shrub Rose of All
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Roses Need Winter Protection
Published November 15th, 2017

Salem Academy Landscape Project
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Shrub Grooming & Shearing
Published March 24th, 2015

Shrub Management for Best Bloom
Published July 3rd, 2017

Shrubs - Are You Afraid of Large Shrubs?
Published August 20th, 2017

Side-Dressing Refreshes Your Vegetables and Flowers
Published July 8th, 2014

Soil - Making Soggy Dirt Fluffy
Published January 8th, 2010

Soil – Drying Out Wet Soils
Published May 2nd, 2016

Soils - How to Improve Them
Published April 4th, 2016

Spring - Time to Play in the Dirt!
Published February 17th, 2014

Spring Feeding For Plants
Published March 10th, 2010

Spring Grove Arboretum
Published January 8th, 2010

Spring Housecleaning For Your Landscape
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Spring Housekeeping & Grooming Checklist
Published March 3rd, 2012

Spring Pest Prevention
Published March 19th, 2012

Spruce Decline
Published May 8th, 2017

St. Patrick’s Is Onion Day
Published March 9th, 2015

Stepping Stone Tips
Published May 20th, 2018

Stone Mulch Pros & Cons
Published August 17th, 2016

Stone Mulch vs Wood Mulch
Published October 4th, 2015

Strawberry Success Tips
Published May 28th, 2012

Strawberry Success Tips
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Strawberry Success Tips
Published March 27th, 2017

Sugar Pie Pumpkins Make the Best Pumpkin Pie
Published September 29th, 2015

Sweet Potatoes - Timing & Tips
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The Real Legacy of Johnny Appleseed
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Published May 15th, 2013

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Published May 23rd, 2011

Tomato Blight - How to Avoid It
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Tomatoes and Viviparity
Published August 29th, 2016

Top Dressing with Compost
Published August 31st, 2015

Touring Fantastic Columbus Gardens
Published August 26th, 2013

Transplanting Woody Plants Successfully
Published February 10th, 2013

Tree Planting Questions & Answers
Published October 31st, 2010

Trees - Avoid “Row Run” Trees
Published August 11th, 2016

Trees - Choosing Driveway Trees
Published January 8th, 2010

Trees - Choosing the Right One
Published October 11th, 2010

Trees - Fast-growing Shade
Published August 15th, 2010

Trees - Fixing Defects I
Published November 28th, 2010

Trees - In Search Of The Dwarf
Published January 8th, 2010

Trees - Managing Volunteers
Published October 13th, 2015

Trees - Mulch Circles
Published August 4th, 2015

Trees - Shade Saves Dollars
Published June 14th, 2016

Trees - Shopping For Quality
Published October 18th, 2010

Trees - Watering in Drought
Published September 19th, 2010

Trees - What is a Red Maple Tree?
Published July 21st, 2014

Trees - Windbreak Save Energy
Published January 8th, 2010

Trees Are Nature’s Air Conditioning
Published June 23rd, 2015

Trees as Living Memorials
Published August 1st, 2017

Trees – Adopt One Today
Published June 5th, 2017

Trees – ANLA Standards
Published October 12th, 2014

Trees – Fall is the Best Time to Plant Trees
Published October 26th, 2013

Trees – Growing Them Takes Many Steps
Published December 4th, 2017

Trees – Planting Too Deep
Published October 22nd, 2013

Trees – Professional Planting Tips
Published September 26th, 2016

Trees – Topping is Harmful
Published April 9th, 2017

Trees: Ten Favorites
Published November 18th, 2013

Using Windbreaks to Reduce Energy Cost
Published October 29th, 2017

Vegetable Gardening Classes at Southern State Community College in Mt. Orab
Published January 26th, 2015

Vegetable Relish & Home Canning
Published September 5th, 2017

Walnut Trees: Blessing or Curse?
Published January 7th, 2018

Watering - Avoid Drowning Your Plants
Published January 8th, 2010

Watering by Drip Irrigation
Published August 7th, 2017

Watering Plants Properly
Published January 8th, 2010

Watering Plants Properly
Published June 3rd, 2018

Weed Control in Landscapes
Published April 29th, 2018

Weeds - Prevention & Control
Published January 8th, 2010

Weeping Cherry Trees
Published May 6th, 0218

Weeping Cherry Trees
Published May 6th, 2018

What You Should Know About Tree Grafting
Published October 4th, 2016

When, Where, How and Why to Water
Published July 15th, 2014

Windbreak Plantings - How and Why
Published December 13th, 2010

Windbreak Plantings – How and Why
Published October 14th, 2012

Winter Can Be Hard on Trees
Published January 8th, 2018

Winter Hardiness - What Does It Mean?
Published February 3rd, 2014

Winter Housekeeping for Trees
Published February 4th, 2018

Winter Protection For Roses
Published January 8th, 2010

Winter Reading For Gardeners
Published January 8th, 2010

Winter’s Coming – Time To Water Your Plants
Published December 5th, 2016

Winterthur Enchanted Woods
Published April 16th, 2011

Winterthur Museum and Garden Tour This September
Published July 2nd, 2013

Witch Hazel Blooms in Late Winter
Published February 18th, 2018

Woodland Management
Published January 2nd, 2018