Rust is (was) here. | Daylily Blog about the yukky stuff...

Do you know what this is?  Yes, indeed - it is daylily rust - the fungus feared and loathed by daylily growers everywhere.  For the first time in almost a decade of its known existence in the US, it came to my garden in Michigan in the fall of 2010.

The AHS Daylily Dictionary defines it as a fungal pathogen that attacks daylilies.  The dictionary goes on to say that daylily rust is caused by the fungus Puccinia hemerocallidis and affects the leaves and scapes. It is not a new disease of daylilies, having been reported previously in China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and Russia. Unfortunately, the disease has now arrived in North America, and was first identified in the southeastern United States in August 2000. Because of widespread shipping of infected plants, by late 2001 daylily rust had been identified in approximately 30 US States, Canada and Australia. In nature, however, the main method of rust spread is by wind borne spores.

Rust decimates daylily foliage.  As I think back over the last decade, I remember one year seeing photos from Florida where the daylily growers had cut back ALL the foliage on the daylilies and left the tall scapes stand.  It was quite a sight.  In the North, layman's research proves that rust does not overwinter.  That is good news for me, because my friends in the South are spending small fortunes spraying rust treatments/chemicals in their gardens almost year round.

This outbreak of rust exploded in my garden in late September.  I bought several late season plants from the South and due to the proximity of the rust outbreak, it was obvious the spores started from those Southern purchases.  I saw the concentration of plants exhibiting these active spores around the new plants.  Luckily, we had early frosts and the spread was stopped.  Only about 8 plants were covered with these tufty spores by the time our first hard frost hit.

It creeped me out having it in my yard.  I have heard hundreds of stories of this fungus, but can say I never saw it with my own eyes in person until it showed up in my own garden.  I was wide-eyed and aghast at its appearance.  How dare it show up here?!  But, knowing our long, faithfully freezing Michigan winters would do its job killing it off, I was not afraid to take these pictures and show you what it looks like.

Don't get it on your hands or clothes and traipse through the rest of your garden.  Don't send infected plants to others.  Don't blame the grower for your infestation.  Get educated and don't believe everything you hear.  Do your own research. 

Daylilies might be called the "perfect perennial," but we do have our battles to fight.  I just hope we stop starting the battles with one another and throw our energies at something worth eradicating, like daylily rust.

Since the rest of this post was slathered with pictures of yukky stuff, I thought I would add a few nice ones to close it out.  I hope you enjoy - and hang in there, although it snowed here yesterday, I know SPRING IS COMING!!

Three beauties from the 2010 Southern Michigan Daylily Society Exhibition Show
From left: H. 'Dragon Fang', H. 'Planet Claire' and H. 'Tommie Lee Joiner'



5 Most Visited Posts. Ever.

The Entire Vault

My New Podcast - Click Below!