Stellar New Daylily Sets Performance Record

“How do you better the best?” That was the daunting question facing hybridizer Jack Roberson as he sought to improve upon ‘Stella de Oro,’ the most highly publicized daylily in history. Three thousand hybrid crosses later, Roberson found his answer — a superb new daylily called ‘Black Eyed Stella,’ winner of All-America Daylily honors for 1994.

Introduced by American Daylily & Perennials, Inc., of Grain Valley, Missouri, ‘Black Eyed Stella’ (PP#7909) is truly a breakthrough cultivar. Building upon ‘Stella de Oro’s’ excellent genetics, ‘Black Eyed Stella’ now exceeds it in several important respects.

Extraordinary Length of Bloom

‘Black Eyed Stella’ blooms more like a bedding plant than a perennial. In fact, Goravani Growers in Naples, Florida, reported blooms on 275 days in one year, while Greenwood Daylily Gardens in Long Beach, California, enjoyed blooms for 300 days!

‘Black Eyed Stella’ performs just as remarkably in cooler areas with shorter summers. “I monitor a test site high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina,” says Angelo Cerchione, Executive Director of the All-America Daylily Selection Council (AADSC). “Here it blooms for 145 days-right through our Fall Leaf Festival in October. That’s 80% of our entire bloom season!” Farther north in Grain Valley, Missouri (Hardiness Zone 5), where spring begins in May, American Daylily & Perennials reports 130 days of bloom per year. “When you consider that the average daylily undergoing test only blooms for 21 days per year,” notes Cerchione, “it’s easy to see why ‘Black Eyed Stella’ is a gardener’s dream.”

Exceptional Adaptability

According to the AADSC, a non-profit organization dedicated to testing and promoting superior daylilies, ‘Black Eyed Stella’ thrives from Minnesota to the southern-most tip of Florida. Hardy throughout USDA Zones 5-10, this remarkable new daylily shrugs off sizzling heat, bitter cold, drought, bugs and diseases.

“‘Black Eyed Stella’ is one perennial that can survive without massive life-support equipment and intensive care treatment,” comments Cerchione. “Superior is hardly too strong a word for it. In the past six years, we’ve compared it to over 6,000 of the 13,000 daylily cultivars currently available. Our performance testing clearly puts it at the top.”

Bold Color

“I was striving for a color breakthrough in order to separate ‘Black Eyed Stella’ from the many yellow ‘Stella’ look-alikes out there,” explains Roberson. “When I saw that striking dark red eyezone pattern set against golden yellow petals, I knew I had reached my goal. Blooms with dramatic color contrasts have always been big hits with gardeners.”

Heat Tolerance

‘Black Eyed Stella’ holds special promise for southern gardeners envious of the northern performance of ‘Stella de Oro.’ Testing has shown that the severe summer heat of the deep south stresses ‘Stella de Oro,’ which deters its reblooming tendency, and shortens its bloom season.

“The farther south you grow ‘Black Eyed Stella,’ however, the better it does,” states Cerchione. Ara Das, of Daylily Discounters in Alachua, Florida, concurs, “While we sell ‘Stella de Oro,’ we don’t recommend it for gardens south of Atlanta,” he remarks. “But, ‘Black Eyed Stella’ really performs in our region. It’s phenomenal — always one flower coming on after another.”

“The ability to span 6 hardiness zones from severe heat to bitter cold,” states Cerchione, “and also give optimum performance, is uncommon in a daylily. This characteristic alone makes a strong case for ‘Black Eyed Stella’ being an “All-American” cultivar when you consider that the average daylily tested only gave top performance across two hardiness zones.”

Garden Performance

Compact and tidy, ‘Black Eyed Stella’ holds its blooms 14 to 22 inches high atop handsome, very dense, blue-green foliage. The blossoms open at night, remain open all the next day, then close. This nocturnal blooming habit is an important advantage in northern climates whose cool mornings can keep some daylilies from opening properly. Old blossoms drop quickly from the self-grooming plant, making way for new, fresh flowers.

‘Black Eyed Stella’ finds many uses in the home garden. It combines beautifully with annuals and perennials in a traditional mixed-flower border. “It’s also an excellent candidate for growing in containers,” says Stewart Oakes of Oakes Daylilies in Corryton, Tennessee, “thanks to its refined habit and relatively short stature. And because it fills in quickly, gardeners can grow it as a solid border or use it to cover a sunny bank, gaining erosion control as a bonus to the long term color display they’ve created.”

Look for ‘Black Eyed Stella’ at garden centers and nurseries this spring and in mail-order catalogs. For more information about ‘Black Eyed Stella’ (PP#7909), contact:

Jack or Jo Roberson
American Daylily & Perennials
P.O. Box 210
Grain Valley, Missouri 64029
816-224-2852 FAX: 816-443-2849