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Plant Profiles

Notify Ground Crew daylily

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Yeah, yeah, yeah: Another yellow daylily.  The flowers are pure yellow but, true, not all that large.  Why do I grow this one?  It isn't just that they look great with the pale foliage of variegated hardy clerodendron at the back, or fluffy papyrus at the left.

 

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I grow 'Notify Ground Crew' because its flowers are at my eye level—and I'm six feet three, even in bare feet.

 

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The lower two feet of the plant—all the foliage—is below frame.  The silly name, 'Notify Ground Crew', only makes sense when the clump is in flower:  The blooms are high flying, indeed.    

 

 

Here's how to grow this hilariously tall daylily:


Latin Name

Hemerocallis 'Notify Ground Crew'

Common Name

'Notify Ground Crew' daylily

Family

Xanthorrhoeaceae, the Grasstree family.  (Grasstrees are Australian oddities that look as if a trunked yucca and a fountain grass had been thrown into a blender.  Ah, the eccentricities of gardening Down Under.)

What kind of plant is it?

Deciduous perennial.

Hardiness

Zones 3 - 9.

Habit

Clumping and upright. 

Rate of Growth

Fast when happy.

Size in ten years

A clump two to three feet across and, in bloom, five to six feet tall.

Texture

Arching narrow grassy foliage typical of daylilies, but the exceptionally tall spikes of bright flowers provide airy and Giacometti-like height and alertness that draw your gaze far above the foliage.

Grown for

its flowers:  The height of the stalks—five feet or even a bit taller—ensures that this daylily's blooms look you in the eye.  Just as welcome is their nocturnal habit (flowers open in late afternoon, and stay open through the night) and solid-yellow coloring.  In coloring and wee-hours flowering both, 'Notify Ground Crew' shows its H. citrina parentage.

Flowering season

Mid-Summer: July, as I write.

Color combinations

With flowers in such a vivid yellow—as bright as that of forsythia—'Notify Ground Crew' is the perennial to grow in contexts where yellow is celebrated, not merely tolerated.  Any hue of green is happy nearby, as are foliage or flowers that are cream or white.  Blue, burgundy, and even terra cotta would be energetic, especially if they are deep and saturated.  Unless you're riffing on a psychedelic theme in your garden, where all bright colors are best friends, it would be hard on the eyes to grow plants nearby that are pushing pink or red.

Plant partners

'Notify Ground Crew' needs to partner both on the basis of the flowers' bright yellow color and their stratospheric position atop tall, leafless, and self-supporting stems.  Daylily foliage isn't distinctive enough in itself to warrant emphasis.  But it's the chlorophyll of the foliage that powers the entire operation, so take care that sun strikes the ground around the clump (and therefore the clump itself), not just the startling eye-level flowers four feet or so above the clump's foliage.

 

The temptation with 'Notify Ground Crew' is to hide the plant's foliage clump, to enhance the humor of the people-high flower stalks' seeming to arise out of nowhere.  Instead, be sure that the back of the growth of these fronting plants is a few feet away from the front of the foliage of 'Notify Ground Crew'.  There's little reward for making those "fronters" particularly showy, because the daylily flowers will always draw your focus high above them.  Partners with neutral mounding growth—and without flowers that are also held on self-supporting leafless stems—are best.  Any grass would be doubly repetitious, in foliage form and upright flowering stalks.  If you choose sun-tolerant hostas, be prepared to clip out their flower stalks.  Further, the large daylily flowers make fronting partners that also have large flowers seem like beginner's excess. 

 

Best would be neutral small-leaved mounders without competing flowers, such as dwarf cultivars of box or Japanese holly.  My 'Notify Ground Crew' is fronted, at a respectful distance, by Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa'. 

 

Dark green is the best choice to backing the bare-stemmed flowers.  I was fortunate to have planted a yew hedge a few feet away from where, years later, I thought to plant my daylily clump. 

 

An entirely different triumph would be to grow 'Notify Ground Crew' in its own island bed, ringed either by low evergreens or nothing at all.  Then the remarkable height of the flowers above the comparatively low foliage would be on full display.

Where to use it in your garden

Nocturnal flowers are unusual enough in temperate horticulture that they are worth siting specifically on that basis:  Where are evening and night-time viewers likely to be—or likely to be lured to?  That's where the nocturnal flowers need to be planted.  'Notify Ground Crew' is at the back of the south end of the high stone-topped table that functions as the sideboard for our dining terrace.  We almost never eat lunch there; even though the dining table itself is sheltered under a huge umbrella, the daytime heat is still a challenge.  But dinner on the terrace?  With the candles and the sunset and stars, and 'Notify Ground Crew' greeting you when you return to the buffet for second and third helpings?  Heaven. 

 

Happily, its location also ensures that the clump receives south and west sun.  Daylily flowers strive to face south and west, so site clumps to the east and north of where viewers need to be if their view isn't to be more of the backsides of the daylily flowers than the front. 

 

True, if you diagram-out the placement of my 'Notify Ground Crew', indicating the table, the clump, and the day-to-evening arc of the sun, you'll see that, while the clump's flowers mostly face you as you serve yourself while standing at the west side of the sideboard, they also face over your right shoulder, to the southwest, even if you're already at the sideboard's south end.  If the clump were at the north end of the sideboard, the flowers would face more ideally, outward as well as across the center, because the entire sideboard would be at the flowers' south and west.  But then the clump's foliage would be somewhat shaded by the sideboard, receiving so much less light that the flowers would be far fewer.  And no, it doesn't work to have the sideboard along the north side of the terrace, with 'Notify Ground Crew' at its southeast corner.  It's an asymptotic quest to find a site for 'Notify Ground Crew' that is ideal in every aspect.

Culture

Daylilies are so easy that "culture" is an overstatement.  Almost any soil that isn't truly wet or dry, in full sun to part shade. 

How to handle it

Daylilies are the definition of easy-care, but that doesn't mean no care.  

 

Really tidy gardeners groom their daylilies, well, daily, pulling off yesterday's spent flowers.  It does look better, but I'm lucky if I get to it once a week.  

 

You can pull away the dead foliage after hard frost—or just leave it until Spring.  Or you can ignore it entirely: the clumps will sprout right up through it next season. 

 

Daylily flowers are fully edible, with only a mild lettuce taste but with color and surprise-value no lettuce could dream of.  Daylily flowers normally close at dusk, and aren't very attractive after that either, so lunchtime is the usual period for daylily munching.  Nocturnal daylilies, though, keep their flowers perky and open far into the night, so can grace even midnight feasts.

 

Daylilies naturalize easily—a sign of just how self-reliant and easy-going they are.  If the Summer (or your climate) is really hot and dry, though, the foliage will scorch unless you provide occasional water.

How to handle it: Another option—or two!

Cut off spent flower stalks; if you're lazy and wait until they are thoroughly brown and dry, they just pull off.  Even easier: The foliage can get shabby by the time flowering is through, but you can cut the entire clump down to a couple of inches, flower stalks and all, which will quickly bring forth a fresh crop of leaves that will be attractive the rest of the season.

Downsides

Daylilies are an easy snack for deer, alas, who will also chew the foliage.  Slugs can torment the clumps, too.  

Variants

There aren't that many ultra-high daylilies.  Cultivars with Hemerocallis altissima (itself to six feet) somewhere in their parentage usually bear flowers that have its copper markings.  Those of 'Autumn Minaret' are orange-yellow with an apricot eye; the petals of 'Challenger' expand and deepen the copper markings to make petals that are solid brick-red with a yellow eye.

 

Flowers of 'Autumn Peaks' are pure pale yellow, as are those of 'Autumn King'.  Flowers of Hemerocallis thunbergii are paler still, and can be held as high as seven feet! 

 

I'm not aware of any ultra-high daylilies with pink flowers, but I'm sure they're in the pipeline.  Overall, there are tens of thousands of daylily cultivars available, with hundreds debuting yearly.  Flowers can be from near-white to pink and rose, or pale yellow to brick-red to burgundy, and in size from an inch or two to nearly a foot.  Flower spikes can be a foot tall to nearly six feet.  Bloom peak is mostly July into August, so cultivars that flower before and after are especially valuable.  Some cultivars are notably fragrant.  Noctural "daylilies", such as 'Notify Ground Crew', flower at night.  A very few have striped foliage, but their flowers are usually secondary.  

 

The evergreen cultivars thrive in Zone 7 and up.

Availability

On-line and at specialist retailers.

Propagation

By division almost any time, with early Spring and August (the latter so the divisions have time to establish before hard frost) preferred.

Native habitat

Hemerocallis are native to Asia; 'Notify Grounds Crew' is a complex hybrid that includes H. citrina, which is native to China.

 
 
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