Extension News

Ask the ISU Extension Garden Experts: Evergreens, Daylilies and Martagon Lilies

Note to media editors: Got gardening questions? Call the Hortline at (515) 294-3108, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m., or e-mail us at hortline@iastate.edu. For more gardening information, visit us at Yard and Garden Online, http://www.yardandgarden.extension.iastate.edu.


The needles on several small evergreens have recently started to turn brown. What is the problem?

The browning of needles is probably due to winter injury. Damage can occur on pine, spruce, fir, arborvitae and yew. It is often most common on the south or west sides of trees and shrubs. The damage is believed to be caused by the desiccating effects of winter winds, winter sun, and other environmental factors. Winter injury symptoms usually develop in March and April in Iowa.

The extent of damage won’t be fully known until late spring/early summer. If the branches and leaf buds are still alive, the buds will break in spring and produce new growth. By late June or July, the affected trees and shrubs should have largely recovered and look much better. Trees and shrubs that produce little or no new growth in spring may be partially or completely dead.

When can I divide my daylilies?

Daylilies can be divided in early spring (as new growth begins to emerge) or in late summer. Dig up the entire clump with a spade. Shake or wash off the soil. Then carefully pull the clump apart. Oftentimes, a sharp knife is necessary to divide large, dense clumps. Each division should have two or three fans of leaves and a good root system. When dividing daylilies in late summer, cut the foliage back to a height of six to eight inches.

Replant the divisions as soon as possible. When planting, the daylily’s crown (the area where the shoots and roots meet) should be approximately one inch below the soil surface. Water thoroughly. Divided plants usually don’t bloom well for one or two years.

What are Martagon lilies?

The Martagon lily (Lilium martagon) is one of the most widely distributed lilies in the world. It grows naturally in most of Europe and parts of Asia. It is also referred to as Turk’s cap lily.

The Martagon lily has two distinguishing characteristics. Plants produce small, waxy, downward facing flowers with strongly recurved petals. The shape of the flower somewhat resembles a turban, hence the common name of Turk’s cap lily. The nodding flowers may be white or purplish red. Several hybrid varieties with yellow, orange, or pink flowers are also available.

The second distinguishing characteristic of the Martagon lily is the plant’s leaf arrangement. Martagon lilies produce leaves in whorls. Six to nine leaves are attached to the stem at a single point (node). A stem usually has three to four whorls of leaves. Plants grow four to five feet tall.

While most lilies require partial to full sun, the Martagon lily performs best in partial shade. It also likes neutral to slightly alkaline soils. Martagon lilies are long-lived if given a favorable growing environment.


Contacts :

Richard Jauron, Horticulture, (515) 294-1871, rjauron@iastate.edu

Del Marks, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-9807, delmarks@iastate.edu