Friday, July 20, 2018

A Visit to Artemesia Daylilies

Last weekend we went on a little road trip that took us north of Toronto to Thornbury and Collingwood. In the winter, the Blue Mountains make this area perfect for skiing. In the summer, views of Georgian Bay and quaint restaurants and shops make it a popular tourist destination. While my husband was interested in poking around antique shops, I was wanted to do a little plant shopping. My mission– the perfect pink daylily.

Why drive miles and miles in search of dayliles? In large part, it was just an excuse to escape the heat of Toronto and take a little drive in the country, but honestly, there is nothing like seeing a flower in front of you before you make your choice.

You get a much better idea a flower's true size and color than you ever could from a photograph. I have bought a number of pink dayliles from pictures, only to be disappointed with the shade of pink when it eventually blooms (I like cool pinks rather than peachy-pinks).

'Wild and Wonderful', which the catalogue describes as "one of the most popular in the garden". Evergreen foliage. Vigorous grower and prolific bloomer.

'Red Suspenders' Dormant and slightly fragrant.

In pictures, I never liked these spidery-type dayliles, but in the field, I was surprised how much I admired them. They're often quite big and showy.

'Spacecoast Citrus Kick' Very vigorous and fast grower. Semi-evergreen foliage.

'White Base'. Very fragrant and evergreen foliage.

Some dayliles have ruffled petals and many have interesting markings. Often there is a contrasting throat color and/or flashes of color on the petals.

 'Only Believe' has 7-inch fragrant flowers. Semi-evergreen foliage.

Most nurseries carry a limited selection of daylilies, so if you're looking for something unique, you may have to hunt down a nursery that specializes in growing them. Artemesia Daylilies, just south of Georgian Bay on the outskirts of a tiny town called Kimberly, is a pleasant drive from Toronto.

The barn set into the hillside.

The renovated farmhouse is home to the nursery's owners. 

 Alain watering the garden. This summer has been a hot, dry one here in Ontario.

For partners Alain Johnson and Jocelyn Bertrand, growing daylilies was a hobby that grew into a business. They have an online catalogue and also welcome customers to shop in the fields that surround their renovated house and barn.

A closeup of the Trumpet vine on the arbour.

 Daylilies are not the only type of lilies in the garden.

'Lies and Lipstick' Semi-evergreen.

As their name suggests, daylilies open for a single day, but one scape can carry as many as thirty or so buds that will each open for a day. The higher the bud count per scape, the longer the period of bloom.

Of course the bloom of a daylily is key to your decision making, but in reality, your buying the complete package. When the daylily is right in front of you, the size and shape of the plant might alter your impression. For instance, one of the daylilies I admired in the field had broad green foliage and big flowers on short stems, while another had finer leaves and small, trumpet-like flowers on tall, reed-like scapes.

'Lucky Dragon', which is a great name. I'd love to have a lucky dragon in my own garden!

Growing Dayliles–The Basics:

Daylilies couldn't be easier to grow! They need full sun (except in the southern parts of the States where a break from the hot afternoon sun would be appreciated).

Daylilies are happy in average garden soil but will grow more vigorously when the soil is amended with compost, leaf mould or well-aged manure.

Soil moisture is key to having spectacular blooms and will even encourage re-blooming.

Ideally, plant them in the spring or the fall. The spring will give the plant time to recover and bloom. In the fall, you can add spring bulbs into your planting hole.

Divide them in the spring. Water them well to encourage new growth.


There are three categories of daylily foliage:

Evergreen – are the least cold tolerant. Hardy evergreens behave like Dormant daylilies in Canada (where there is insufficient snow cover, its a good idea to mulch them).

Semi-evergreen – Retain their foliage in warmer climates. Where winter freeze occurs, the foliage dies back.

Dormant – Regardless of the horticultural zone the plant is grown in, the foliage dies back to the ground in winter. Cultivars with dormant foliage tend to be the most cold-hardy.

After flowering daylily foliage can look messy and unattractive. If you cut the plant back by half, new foliage will start to appear.

Plant type: Perennial

Flower: Flowers last a single day. They come in a wide range of colors including orange, cream, red, yellow, peach, pink and maroon.

Bloom period: 
Early – June into July
Midseason – July
Late – July into August


Light: Full sun

Divide: Early spring or fall

Problems: fairly pest and disease resistant. Deer may be an issue.

USDA Zones: 3-10

'Leebea Orange Crush' and 'Art Imperial'

'Good Old Boy' Semi-evergreen.


So what did I end up buying? My original mission to find the perfect pink flower went out the window when I saw this dark beauty! Alain Johnson couldn't have been nicer and gave me a really big plant to take home (without any idea of who I was).

For those of you who might like to do a little daylily shopping of your own, do a quick Google search to find a specialist nursery in your area. Update: An American reader has let me know that the American Hemerocallis Society website has a list of display gardens in the U.S. & Canada as well as a list of daylily sources by region.

For readers in Ontario, you can visit these daylily nurseries (they also ship within Canada):

Artemesia Daylilies is located at 235731 Grey Rd. 13, just 4kms north of Kimberley. They have hostas as well as an extensive array of dayliles. Visit their website for open times, directions and to see the online catalogue.

Dynamic Daylilies is located at 4500 South Service Rd., Beamsville, Ontario. Visit their website for open times, directions and to see the online catalogue.

Gardens Plus is a nursery and display garden featuring daylilies and hostas, but they also sell Coneflowers, Hellebores, Coral Bells and other perennials. 136 Country Rd 4, Donwood, Ontario (just east of Peterborough). Check their website for details, hours and to see the online catalogue. Here's a link to an older post I did on Gardens Plus.

Nottawasaga Dayliles is located in Creemore, Ontario. Visit their website for details and online catalogue.

We're in the Hayfield Now are holding their annual daylily festival on July 20, 21 & 22nd. I haven't been to their festival for a few years, but really enjoyed it when we went. They have been breeding daylilies for over 25 years and are located on 4704 Pollard Rd., Orono (east of Toronto). Check their website for details, hours and catalogue. Here's a link to a post I did on the Hayfield (it has since changed ownership, but I'm sure it's just as great as ever).


  1. Really? You only went home with one?

    1. Actually I bought a couple. The other is quite similar in color and the post was already long, so I only mentioned one of my purchases. Even so, there was lots of restraint involved...

  2. At one time I grew roses but then I found daylilies.....Thanks for the post! They are so enjoyable!

  3. I accidentally deleted my comment... Sorry new to blogger... AWESOME pictures! My dad mainly grows vegetables in his garden, but he has a couple lilies, ferns, and bleeding hearts and other flowers growing on his property.

    1. I learned a great deal from my mother's garden and that's where I discovered my love of flowers. I hope you find similar inspiration in your Dad's garden.


I love to hear from you. Thanks for leaving a comment.