The Daylily Place: Proliferations

The following information has been contributed by members of the Daylily E-Mail Round Robin for your enjoyment.


I have mentioned several times in my writings about proliferations and several of you have asked how I handle them and since there are as many ways to handle prolifs as there are AHS members . . . thus, the title, "Proliferations . . . My Way".

This is a good time in most areas of the US to check your cultivars for proliferations, which are minature plants that you will occassionally find growing from a bract area of a daylily scape. These proliferations will be exact replicas of the mother plant.

At this point you have several options:

  1. If the scape is still green, leave the prolif on the scape to encourage some root growth prior to removing. The scape will eventually start turning brown, but if you will look closely, you will still have a "live" green area coming up from the crown of the plant to the prolif. When this area turns brown, you need to remove the prolif.
  2. If the prolif is already well rooted, it can be removed. (Planting alternatives will be discussed next). If you remove the prolif, leave some scape below the the bottom of the baby plant to stabilize when planted. If the scape still has seed pods, it is best to wait until they have been harvested to remove the proliferation.
  3. If you get nervous and for some reason want to remove the prolif prior to the roots starting, cut the scape 2-3 inches below the prolif, and insert into a container of water, with the water covering the bottom of the prolif. I use Dixie plastic cups (appropriate for a Southerner). Also, I use a very weak solution of a water soluable fertilizer, like 20-20-20. Check the water often and maintain the original level. It is also recommended to change the water every couple of days. Another method of encouraging roots is to have a box filled with sand, insert the proliferations in the sand and keep it moist.
Remember to label the prolif . . . our memories are not as good as we sometimes think, and when you are working with several proliferations, you can easily become confused! Thus, CRS is a good excuse!!!

After the root system has developed, you have some planting options:

  1. Place the prolif directly in the ground beside the mother plant. You do need to remember to keep the area moist.
  2. My personal preference is to place the prolif in a 4" pot filled with potting soil for at least a month and then plant directly in the garden.
  3. When planting in any location, I would recommend trimming the foliage back to 1 1/2" to 2" (I believe that has been referred to as scalping), and dust the base and roots with Rootone (or some other rooting agent) which has a growth stimulator plus a fungicide. Do not let the planting medium dry in the initial growth.

If you are selling or trading plants, it is best to allow the plant to bloom before selling or trading, that way, you will know that you have not gotten them mixed up. If you do rid yourself of the plant before blooming, ethics would dictate to inform the other person that this is a proliferation.

After it has bloomed, and you have determined that it is the right plant, then it is like any other division of that cultivar. Hope this helps!

Lee Pickles, Chattanooga Daylily Gardens, 1736 Eagle Drive, Hixson, TN 37343. Phone 615-842-4630. Chairman, Region Ten Mid-Winter Symposium. Editor, Region Ten newsletter, "The Daylily Appeal"

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Last revised: August 27, 1996.

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