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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Did Your Day Lily Bloom in Orange Instead of Pink?

A garden blogger recently reported how disappointed she was to discover that a day lily, from a mail order supplier, bloomed in a color that did not resemble its catalogue picture. She had ordered pink and it bloomed in light orange. I understand how she felt. It has happened to me several times.

It is a well documented fact that pink is one of the most popular garden colors. To encourage sales of a not-quite-pink plant, catalogue vendors sometimes tweak the natural color, which is closer to peach or orange, so that it appears pinker in print. While this trickery is not acceptable to gardeners, it has been standard practice among many mail order merchants, especially when they market Hemerocallis. To avoid being accused of false representation, some vendors now only sell daylilies in distinct colors that are difficult to misrepresent, intentionally or otherwise.

The question remains, how does one photograph a peach or orange plant so that it appears pinker in print? Is a blue filter used on the lens? Is the picture doctored in a software program? Whatever the explanation, it is frustrating and disappointing to discover that a perennial, delivered and planted last season, is blooming a year later in an undesired color.

Here is a solution that I have found to be helpful: - I no longer buy pink Hemerocallis from mail order firms or on line catalogue sellers. I give my business to growers with web sites, who post mostly accurate photos of their plants. After choosing a day lily, and before placing an order, I surf the net to see how other sellers have photographed it. If the color from several sources is close to the shade that my designated supplier has posted, then I am certain that the desired plant will flower as shown. If there are serious color discrepancies, from one site to another, I will refrain from buying that variety - unless I know that I will be happy with any of the shades. No grower has ever disappointed me. As a matter of fact, one supplier sometimes displays two images of the same plant, from two different photographers, whenever he feels that one image alone does not do justice to plant’s color.

Here are two images for Hemerocallis Pink Damask.




Notice the variation in colors from one image to the next. This is not a variety that a gardener can safely order unless it has already been observed in bloom.



Here are four images of  Hemerocallis, Over the Top.





Five sellers have described it as pink, neon pink, red, dark pink, and deep pink.




Can anyone be certain of its true color before ordering?





Unless the gardener has already seen it in bloom, which is unlikely because it is hard to find, one will have to plant it first to discover its actual color.




In an ideal world, it would be advantageous to spend some time in a grower’s field when each day lily is in bloom to examine its true color; but that is an unrealistic investment of time. On one hand, different varieties have different bloom periods so that several visits would be necessary. On the other hand, most of us do not live within driving distance of a grower. Even by visiting a retail nursery, there is no guarantee of finding exactly what one is searching for. No nursery can stock every day lily that has ever been bred - the numbers must be in the hundreds of thousands - and no vendor can predict which colors customers might want. That is why nurseries prefer to stock only those varieties that have done well for them in the past.

It is only collectors of day lilies and picky garden designers like me who want very specific colors in very exacting shades. We are the ones that hunt for varieties that match the ideas in our imagination. Fortunately, there are growers who understand our needs and give us exactly what we want.

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Reader Comments (3)

I complain about this all the time -- with photoshop it is way to easy to tweak flower colors. I try to find companies that I can rely on. Do you have any recommended sources for daylilies?
It is also worth mentioning that flower color can change a lot depending on soil type, temperature, and time of day. So it isn't always the catalog writer's fault if they don't look the same in your garden as they did in the photo.

December 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph Tychonievich

You are so right Allan! I can't tell you how many daylilies I have planted that either look just like another variety I have or totally different than the catalog picture.

We have a daylily show each year at our community house and this is a wonderful way to see many prized daylilies and their colors.


December 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

The color accuracy of a photograph is a complicated issue. So many factors are at play. Photoshop is not the most likely villain in this case.
A photograph's overall color can be effected by many things including the natural light available. A flower may, for example, appear more golden because of the sunlight hitting it.
Printing of many photos on a catalogue page with accurate color is very challenging for reasons that are hard to go into in a short comment.
I hate to disappoint you, but computer monitors are not more color accurate than printed pictures. An image will appear differently when looked at on different monitors. You can color calibrate your screen to be more accurate, but most people wouldn't know how to do this. Website are not more accurate therefore.
The best and only way to truly appreciate a flower's color is to see it in the flesh. That is why I have been trucking out to see flowers in the field before I purchase!

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

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