Gardeners in the Red Deer area interested in daylilies should know that they don’t have to go any further than Red Deer County to find about 450 varieties.
And 100 per cent are suitable for Zone 2, the local plant hardiness zone.
In 2010 Gablehouse Farm and Gardens started with about 65 varieties of the perennial flower and within about five years the farm became the largest daylily producer on the Canadian prairies.
Carolyn and Jeff Bondy test hybrids from the United States and other parts of Canada to find daylilies that grow in Zone 2 temperatures.
“We don’t hybridize here. There are so many cultivars to choose from. There are thousands and thousands, but not all are hardy here,” said Carolyn, who was trained in horticultural and landscape gardening at Olds College.
The couple started growing daylilies after looking for a suitable farm crop for about four years. One day while selling their raspberries at Sylvan Lake Farmers’ Market they met another couple who wanted to sell a trailer as well as their small collection of daylilies.
The Bondys were looking for a trailer and decided to buy the daylilies as well.
“We didn’t necessarily go out seeking them. They came to us,” Carolyn said.
“They took really well and the next spring we realized how well they had wintered. In 2011, that was the year we decided this is the crop.”
Gablehouse Farm and Gardens, located south and west of Sylvan Lake, now have about two acres of cultivated daylilies in 30 raised daylily beds and five large in-ground beds. None of the flowers are grown in greenhouses.
“Everything is garden grown. That’s another factor that contributes to prairie hardiness.”
She said more gardeners are turning to daylilies to replace regular lilies that are being destroyed by the red lily beetle that has been spreading in the prairies in recent years.
“It attacks Lilium and that is a different plant than daylilies. Daylilies are Hemerocallis. Lilies are Lilium.”
Daylilies at Gablehouse will start blooming in July.
The farm sells to greenhouses in Alberta and buyers across the country. Daylily roots will be dug up in May for shipping.
“We will dig them and label them and wash them and trim them, if necessary, and then pack them and send them by Canada Post to wherever they need to go.”
Carolyn said daylilies from Gablehouse multiple from the crown instead of the roots so they aren’t invasive plants like the old tawny orange ditch lilies that some people call “outhouse lilies.”
She said the new hybrids are easy to grow. They require at least six hours of full or dappled sun which makes them suitable for east, west and south sides of a house.
“Although the flowers themselves only last for a day, when you have 30 buds, or 20 buds on a flower stock, when one goes there’s another one coming.
“There’s just a multitude of colour and form and height that make them so wonderful. There’s every colour of the rainbow that you could possibly imagine except for true blue and pure white.”
For more information visit www.gablehousefarmandgardens.ca.