Peter Loewer, author of The Evening Garden (among many other books), will be in Kansas City this weekend to give a couple of talks to Garden Center Association members and friends. I was asked to write a few comments about one of my favorite night-blooming plants for a handout for Peter's talk on Saturday morning at the Discovery Center. I wrote about night-blooming daylilies:
The evening is always kind to the summer garden: the hummingbirds make their last rounds, stopping to inspect the bee balm and the lonicera; the wrens bustle about the last of the day's business. As the sun sets and the fireflies start to flash, unfinished tasks no longer nag -- they'll have to wait. I'm out there, picking a few leaves of basil or a sprig of thyme or parsley, and admiring some daylilies that open late and bloom all night long. Hemerocallis citrina and H. lilioasphodelis are tall, night-blooming daylilies with lemony yellow flowers. The charming blooms are smaller than big hybrid daylilies, with something of the delicacy of wildflowers, and they tend not to open very wide. I believe they are mixed up in the trade, so it's hard to tell which of the two you are buying -- but they both have tall flower scapes (40 to 60 inches) and thrive in full sun or light shade. My pretty H. citrina 'Yao Ming' came from Tony Avent's Plant Delights (as did the picture at right), and after a couple of years in my garden, it has grown to a handsome clump that blooms for weeks.
Plant them by a porch or patio, where you are most likely to enjoy their flowers and their soft, sweet fragrance. The flowers stay open until mid morning, so if you miss them in the evening, you can catch them on your way to work.