Stella d'oro courtesy of Shutterstock
Stella d’oro courtesy of Shutterstock

Sometimes even ProfessorRoush tires of his opinions, his interminable rants about disease or weeds or flower color or poor performance that keep him from enjoying the garden.  Is it really necessary to constantly pontificate about whether this rose is better than that one, or how one grass is a thug, sprawling over everything in its vicinity, while another grass adds a really nice structure to the garden?

Take, for instance, his opinion about ‘Stella de Oro.’ If you’ve read his blog, you know he detests the orange-yellow color of ‘SDO’.  You’ve seen him rant about how tired he is of seeing it everywhere, often displayed in combination with a purple barberry or a group of banal junipers. One of the reasons that ProfessorRoush believes in a single deity is that creating ‘SDO’ as the most reliable, easy to propagate and longest-blooming daylily on earth is surely a little cosmic joke made while God was in a good mood and resting on the seventh day.

There are certainly better alternatives.  ‘Happy Returns’ blooms a little less frequently, but the two fewer shades of orange in ‘Happy Returns’ makes it a much prettier addition to the landscape.  It is just as healthy and, these days, just as easy to find.  But, I guess it just doesn’t contrast with purple barberries as well so it doesn’t satisfy the peasant sensibilities of modern landscape designers.  And there are similarly named Stella’s, such as ‘Purple de Oro’, which should be better, but they’re less healthy and don’t bloom nearly as often, at least for me.  The latter also isn’t that purple, but that’s another rant entirely.

Don’t get me wrong, I grow ‘Stella de Oro’ in spades.  ProfessorRoush wouldn’t, with his unlimited mental budget for plants, but I do.  In fact, a few weeks ago, it was the primary blooming plant in the landscaping in front of my garage. ‘SDO’s are almost all of the yellow that I have here, with the exception of a single ‘Happy Returns.’ In my defense, I’d like to tell you that I was a beginning gardener at the time and didn’t know any better, but, truthfully, I grew ‘SDO’ in a garden before this one and I also hated it there. Unfortunately, if you want to buy a lot of daylilies on the cheap at big box stores, you get ‘Stella de Oro’, sometimes even when it is labeled as something else. And I was working on my budget, not that of ProfessorRoush’s. Thankfully, as I’ll blog about in a few days, the ‘SDO’ are resting now and other, more attractive, daylilies and lilies are center stage.

Some would suggest that ProfessorRoush should strive to develop a more open mind and keep his opinions to himself.  But then what would he write about?  Endless essays about the beauty of every living creature would either cause his arteries to explode from the suppressed inner tensions or, alternatively, he would quickly run out of complimentary English language adjectives and his writing would be as boring as a landscape composed entirely of purple barberries and ‘Stella de Oro’s.  Writing, and gardening, is so much more satisfying if you can make use of all the options available.


  1. Also: the name has always bugged me. It isn’t Italian, because then it would be ‘Stella d’Oro’ (like the cookies). And it isn’t Spanish–that would be ‘Estrella de Oro’. So not only is it ugly, it’s mangling one or two European languages.

  2. Totally agree. Hate the color. I was given a lot of ‘Happy Returns’ a few years ago which I planted around a front walk. A ‘Stella’ got in there somehow, and I can’t bring myself to get rid of it because of how tough it is and how well it flowers. I respect it, but I do not like it at all.

  3. I used to hate them, because they reminded me of the parking lot at Target (or the gas station, or Kroger…you know what I mean). But when I moved into my new house, the former owners had plopped a whole bunch of them into the garden, and I kept them because I had a lot of space to fill. I moved them to the front yard which is vulnerable to deer (I figured I didn’t care if they got eaten) and they filled in really nicely with some other perennials and now I have to say they’re growing on me. They are a nice height so they don’t overtake my other, showier flowers, and they bloom enough that the deer can’t eat ALL the flowers. I think they definitely have their place…but I would like to see them become less ubiquitous in the landscape.

  4. this post compelled me to rush outside and say reassuring things to my Stellas. I have a sweep planted at the foot of an ancient Weigelia and with Liatris species and black adder Agastache as neighbors. It’s blooming happily behind a sweep of Japanese indigo plants that I grow for fiber dyeing. I admit I’m a fan of yellows and oranges so the color doesn’t bother me. And when you come in for a closer look, the flower itself has a slight, pretty iridescence and and a lovely, soft fragrance. More diversity in the parking lots of America would be nice but I’m not going to complain about the Stellas!

  5. Wow, I WISH the parking lots in South Jersey had landscaping, including daylillies. Garden State, my foot.

  6. I remember how everyone was so excited about the new Stella d’oro daylilies – so dependable. But then all the non-gardeners who thought they ought to have a few flowers around their house latched on to them. I guess they are better than no flowers, but it is nice to see how the daylily palette keeps expanding. Maybe the Stella d’oro people will decide to add some other varieties – just as dependable.

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