In what might be a good portent for the future of gardening in our area, a plant-specific nursery has opened in Economy (although it has a Baden ZIP code). Stacey Chalupiak is the owner of Daylily Valley Farm. Just 2 years old, this little nursery already has more than 400 cultivars of daylilies for sale.
What started out as a birthday trip to Daylilies & More nursery in Lodi, Ohio, several years ago morphed into a business that allows Mrs. Chalupiak to earn extra income for her family while remaining at home with her three young boys.
That first trip to the Ohio nursery was purely for fun. The next year, when she and husband Jerry returned for more plants, Rita Zedonis, owner of Daylilies & More, mentioned that she was thinking of retiring. The idea of a starting a home business sprouted in Mrs. Chalupiak's mind. Her husband encouraged her and the Zedonises were very helpful and remain so.
"This kind of unfolded and it's been a blessing," she says. "It's been a great opportunity. The daylily community has been so nice."
To get started, the couple purchased 4,500 fans from the Ohio nursery in August. With help from the entire family, over several hot weeks, all the fans were planted and marked. And even though many of the bare-root plants were not put in immediately, and sat on a trailer in the hot sun, Mrs. Chalupiak says she lost only one plant. That is another reason daylilies are so popular. Relatives of the ubiquitous orange "ditch" lily, they may look fussy, but they have the hard-scrabble toughness of those old plants that were introduced here by pioneers, making them a great entry plant for beginning gardeners.
Because the Chalupiaks live on acreage adjacent to her husband's family farm, they have the space to expand, and that's what she is already planning on doing. Although she's done no real advertising other than sending out postcards, creating a Facebook page and placing information on Craigslist, word is starting to spread. She's had customers from as far away as Altoona.
The plants she sells are freshly dug bare-root double fans that are generous in size (larger than the potted varieties that you see in many nurseries). Prices for most range from $10 to $15, with new introductions priced at $35.
It's fun to choose plants while they are in bloom, and daylilies peak this month. Mrs. Chalupiak gives customers flags to push into the ground by the selected varieties. It is difficult to narrow the choices down when faced with such a large collection. No worries if you can't make it to the nursery before blooming season is over. Mrs. Chalupiak is currently trying to take photographs of her flowers for her Facebook page, making selection easier for those buying during non-bloom time. Daylilies can be put in any time during the planting season, including fall, she says.
Gardeners can expect the fans to double in size the first year and then keep on going. Those who provide additional water will be rewarded with extra blooms.
"I don't baby them. I don't fertilize. Water seems to be the best fertilizer," she says.
They are also mainly pest-free, except for deer, who like to munch on them.
There are three types of daylilies: early, which bloom in June; mid-season, which bloom in July, and late, which will bloom in August. She suggests mixing all three types in the garden, extending the season of bloom throughout most of the summer.
When the plants are in bloom, daily deadheading (picking spent blossoms) will keep them neat. Once they are finished flowering, cut the foliage back to about 5 or 6 inches above the ground. Most plants will flush out new growth and look much tidier than if you leave the old foliage in place, which tends to collapse. If you don't mind the old foliage in the garden, you can skip that step. The plants won't mind.
Mrs. Chalupiak has a growing sheet to give to novices and is happy to answer any cultural questions, although they are a very trouble-free plant. So far, the response from customers has been positive.
"I've got a lot of great comments on my Facebook page," she says. "It's fun. I really enjoy meeting so many great new people."
Daylily Valley Farm is at 300 Tyro Road, Baden, Pa. 15005. Phone: 724-876-0120. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. until Aug. 11. After that, by appointment only. She can also accommodate some Sunday visits by appointment only. The Daylily Valley Farm Facebook page has more information and pictures of available plants.
Post-Gazette garden editor Susan Banks: email@example.com or 412-263-1516. First Published July 20, 2013 4:00 AM