Happy Returns DaylilyHemerocallis hybrid ‘Happy Returns’
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Hemerocallis hybrid ‘Happy Returns’
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Happy Returns Daylily is one of the very best repeat-blooming daylilies, starting as early as May and continuing in three big waves of blooming all the way into the fall. It stands about 18 inches tall, spreading about 2 feet, with many flower stems carrying an abundance of blooms. The butter-yellow blooms are a full 3 inches across and stay open from dawn right into the night. The perfect choice for filling all those difficult spots in your garden, like dry areas, slopes, beneath walnut trees and where there is salt runoff.
Full sun suits the Happy Returns Daylily best, but it will take a little afternoon shade, especially in hot zones. It grows all the way from icy zone 3 to balmy zone 9 without trouble, in heat and humidity as well as cold and rain. It grows in just about any well-drained soil, including heavy clay, urban soils and poor soil. Once established it’s very drought resistant, and untouched by pests, diseases or rabbits. Removing spent flower stalks and cutting back in fall is all the care it needs.
The flowers of daylilies really do last only one day, but they are so prolific, and produced in such abundance, that flowering goes on for weeks. Still, it would be nice to have even more, and with the Happy Returns Daylily, that’s exactly what you get – more. More blooms on each branch, and more branches produced over a longer period than just about any other variety of these wonderful plants. Among the easiest of flowers to grow, modern daylilies are vigorous, making a dense covering of foliage that fills out your beds perfectly. The highly-bred varieties may have super-large trumpets, but for garden display you can’t beat the spectacular showing of butter-yellow flowers produced by this one, even if they are a little smaller. From May right to frost, expect to be greeted by them every morning – the party never ends.
The Happy Returns Daylily is a perennial plant whose leaves die down to the ground each year in fall, re-sprouting the next spring with more vigor and more stems. The leaves rise to a height of about 15 inches, and they are strap-like, an inch or two wide, bright green, smooth and arching over at their tips. In spring the plant quickly forms a dense clump of foliage up to 2 feet across, and a bed of these plants creates a solid, weed-proof covering that is attractive and very effective at filling spaces in your garden.
This variety is early-blooming – one of the very first – and by May in warmer zones the first flower stems will have risen to the top of the leaves. These strong green stems branch out into many side-shoots, each carrying multiple buds. Fresh buds open early in the morning, and last for 16 hours before wilting. Again, this is longer than with many other daylilies, which can be over by the afternoon. Next day more new buds open, in an endless succession of wonderful blooms. New stems keep coming too, in three main bursts of growth over the season, keeping this plant continuously in bloom right into the fall. The medium-sized flowers are a full 3 inches across, and a uniform, beautiful, canary or butter yellow, not gold. The petals are thick, broad and ruffled along their edges, making a flamboyant trumpet. A plant decorated with its many blooms is a lovely sight. The stems rise to the top of the foliage, so the blossoms peak in a charming way from among the tips of the leaves. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds often visit the blooms, which have a gentle fragrance.
This daylily is incredibly robust, and able to stand conditions that other plants can’t. So besides using it with abandon in your flower and shrub beds, consider using it in these difficult situations: polluted urban environments; slopes, especially in poor soil, the roots and stems giving good erosion control; very dry, exposed locations; beneath black walnut trees, where many plants fail; alongside paths and driveways that are salted in winter. In all these situations it thrives and blooms like nothing else will. For low-maintenance continuous blooming it is impossible to beat. For grouping, and mass planting, space plants 18 to 24 inches apart for a continuous covering.
The Happy Returns Daylily is incredibly hardy, surviving winter in zone 3 and reveling in summer in zone 9. During the very hottest parts of the summer in hot zones there may be a brief interruption in flowering, but this is made up for by how early in spring it starts to bloom, and how long into fall it will bloom.
Full sun is the best exposure for the Happy Returns Daylily, especially in cooler areas, and it will give the most continuous blooming. Some afternoon shade is fine in hot zones. It grows in any well-drained soil, including sands and clays, and thrives in just about all conditions. Of course, it grows even more lushly and prolifically in better soils, but the difference is, to be honest, not that great.
Pests or diseases are rare, and rabbits don’t bother with this plant, although daylilies are sadly not resistant to deer. For the best look, remove spent flower stems, cutting them low-down inside the foliage. In fall cut everything back to a couple of inches tall, and add some compost or manure as mulch if you have some – it isn’t essential. That’s it for another year of beauty and endless blooms.
Darrel Apps was a professor of horticulture at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington, for many years. There he noticed how the ‘wild’ daylilies did well in the heat of summer, and in 1969 he began breeding them, at a time when significant breeding was just beginning. He continued for 40 years, selling plants through his Woodside Nursery until 2007, when he retired, and passed his plants to Centerton Nursery in Bridgeton, New Jersey. He created ‘Happy Returns’ in 1986, by breeding with the variety ‘Stella de Oro’, and with other rebloomers it was first released as one of the Happy Ever Appster® Daylilies.
This great plant is incredibly popular and it has received multiple awards. It is one of the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Plants of Merit, as well as the 1992 winner of the Honorable Mention award of the American Hemerocallis Society. In 2001 it was the Grower’s Choice Award of the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association. All this means it’s a top plant, and one you can choose with confidence. But order your plants right away, as our supply is very limited, and these plants sell in large numbers for mass planting.