Are Daylilies Invasive?

Are your daylilies taking over your garden? Are you worried they could be invasive? Invasive species harm pollinators and the local ecosystem. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago discusses the invasiveness of daylilies and what you can do about it!

This close-up captures the radiant beauty of daylilies in full bloom. Their delicate petals unfurl in a blaze of vibrant orange, with veins of deep crimson radiating outwards from the center. The daylilies stand amidst a lush green carpet of grass, their vivid hues contrasting beautifully against the earthy backdrop.


Invasive plants are exotic species that spread vigorously and interfere with the health of local ecosystems. They spread to wild areas via seed or rapidly growing root systems, crowding out native plants that provide essential resources for local pollinators and soil organisms. Aggressive and invasive plants negatively impact wildlife and the food web that depends on native species. 

Daylilies are perennials famed for their beautiful flowers and simple maintenance requirements. As these plants grow, you may notice plant pups popping up nearby. Does this mean that your plant is invasive?

If you have an expanding daylily garden on your hands, let’s look at these plants, what may make them invasive or not, and what we can do about it!

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Black-eyed Susan

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Asclepius tuberosa Seeds

The Short Answer

The short answer is that not all daylilies are invasive. However, Hemerocallis fulva, commonly known as the ditch lily or tiger daylily, is invasive. You can still go to the garden center and choose your favorite beautiful daylily variety without worry. Most, if not all, of the popular hybridized varieties are not invasive.

The Long Answer

A close-up look at the radiant beauty of an orange daylily. Its fiery petals stretch outwards, showcasing a heart of molten red and gold. The background fades into a gentle blur, leaving the spotlight on this stunning bloom.
Hemerocallis fulva is a listed invasive species in many areas.

Hemerocallis fulva is a tricky plant. It is a listed invasive species in much of the US, but some gardeners consider it a lovely naturalizing plant that does not get too out of control. I inherited a patch of Hemerocallis fulva in my garden, and it has naturalized nicely. It’s low maintenance and has not negatively affected anything growing nearby. However, this may be a different situation where you live. 

If you are worried that your orange daylily has become invasive, read on, and let’s tackle that issue!

The Orange Daylily Vs. Hybridized Daylilies

A close-up captures the vibrant beauty of orange daylily blossoms with large, open bloom with six petals unfurling like a radiant sun. Inside the bloom, a cluster of long, orange stamens protrude, adding a touch of texture and depth. The background is slightly blurred, revealing a lush green garden with more daylily blossoms.
These orange daylilies spread aggressively in moist areas, but hybridized daylilies are easier to control.

If you have ever driven down a road and noticed a lovely swath of orange daylilies filling a ditch, you have seen the orange daylily. This daylily goes by many different names. Hemerocallis fulva spreads aggressively, especially in perfect conditions. For this daylily, that means moist areas such as riversides or ditches where rain may collect. 

The orange daylily produces seeds. However, those seeds are sterile and will not produce new plants. Instead, these perennials spread through their tuberous roots.

Hybridized daylilies may be aggressive. However, it is much easier to control the spread of these plants. Hybridized daylilies spread via seed. If you deadhead spent blossoms from your plants, you will not need to worry about daylilies taking over your garden. 

How to Prevent

A daylily plant in a large pot, set against a backdrop of leafy trees in a summer city park. The plant has lush green, long, and thick leaves, but no flowers. It looks like the flowers are past their bloom, and the plant might be in the process of producing new leaves.
To control daylilies, grow them in containers with well-draining soil and overwinter with mulch.

The easiest way to prevent your daylilies from spreading out of control is to avoid planting them if they have been declared invasive in your area

However, if you love the look of the orange daylily, you can always grow this perennial in a container to keep it in check.

  • Situate your container in full sun.
  • Use any type of garden or potting soil as long as it is well-draining. Daylilies are not picky about their soil type, just as long as it does not hold onto water for too long, causing the roots to rot.
  • Overwinter your potted daylilies by moving the container into your shed, or according to the University of Washington, leave your pots outdoors and cover the soil with a thick layer of mulch.

How to Remove Daylilies

A close-up scene unfolds in the garden: a trusty green brush cutter, its armor adorned with the spoils of war - clinging grass clippings. Sunlight gleams off the sharpened blade, poised to conquer the towering enemy grass in the background.
Get rid of daylilies using a shovel, persistent cutting, or, as a last resort, systemic herbicide.

There are a few different methods for removing daylilies. No matter what method you choose, try your best to remove every bit of those tuberous roots

  1. Try removing daylilies with a good old shovel. This takes time and some elbow grease. It is important to remove as much of the roots as possible. Any remaining roots produce new plants next year, and the problem is only lessened but not eradicated.
  2. Try to mow or weed-wack the foliage of your daylilies all season long. Cover the area with a few inches of mulch or landscape fabric over the winter.
  3. As a last resort, use a systemic herbicide. Systemic herbicides can kill anything nearby. Unless they are targeted, they are not plant-specific. These herbicides are also rough on the environment and should only be used as a last course of action.

Alternative Plants

Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed)

Sun-kissed butterfly weed blooms bask in the morning glow. Clusters of fiery orange flowers, petals edged with a whisper of yellow, stand out against a soft blur of green foliage. Gentle morning light paints the scene with warmth, inviting pollinators to a feast of nectar.
Milkweed offers vibrant orange blooms and is essential for Monarch butterflies but is toxic to pets.

Butterfly weed still offers a pop of orange while bringing in all sorts of pollinators. Hardy in zones 3-9, butterfly weed grows to two feet tall. These plants are crucial to the survival of Monarch butterflies as they are a food source and larval host plant. This plant is toxic to pets, though, so plant it with care. 

Iris domestica (Blackberry Lily)

Close-up of a beautiful blackberry lily in full bloom. The flower's six petals are a vibrant orange-red color, with darker streaks radiating from the base. The edges of the petals are gently ruffled, adding to the flower's delicate appearance.
This Iris species, blooms in red, orange, or yellow, with longer-lasting flowers than daylilies.

Do not let the name of this plant confuse you: it is technically an Iris. Hardy in zones 5-10, the blackberry lily grows to three feet tall. The sprays of flowers bloom in shades of red, orange, or yellow. Like the daylily, these blossoms only last about a day. On the other hand, this plant produces flowers for weeks, keeping blooms much longer than your traditional daylily. 

Iris fulva (copper iris)

Close up of a Copper Iris bloom with beautiful rust and red petals and striking deep burgundy veining.
This iris thrives in wet areas, with copper-colored flowers and lance-shaped foliage.

If you love the look of the orange daylily but not its invasive nature, the copper iris is a great look-alike plant. Hardy in zones 6-9, this perennial grows to three feet tall. The copper iris is a great option if you have standing water in your yard. This perennial produces copper-colored flowers that resemble lilies, along with lance foliage. 

Lilium canadense (Canada Lily)

A close-up of several vibrant orange Canada Lily flowers with trumpet-shaped petals. Their stamens protrude from the center of the flowers, with pollen-dusted anthers. Long, slender stems support the flowers against a soft green backdrop.
This lily, reaching five feet tall, features large spotted petals in yellow, orange, or red.

If you love the look of lilies in your garden, Canada lily is a lovely option. Hardy from zones 3-8, the Canada lily grows to five feet tall, which is a height that daylilies will not reach. The flowers on this perennial are yellow, orange, or red, typically with spots on the 4-inch petals

Lilium philadelphicum (wood lily)

A close-up of a vibrant orange Wood Lily blossom, captured from directly above. The flower's six recurved petals unfurl gracefully, revealing a cluster of dark orange stamens and a pistil in the center. The petals are adorned with a multitude of tiny black spots in the center, adding a touch of contrast to the flower's fiery hue.
These lilies, popular for their extended blooming period, display vibrant red-orange flowers and reach three feet in height.

The wood lily is very popular, and it is easy to see why. Hardy in zones 4-7, this lily grows to three feet tall. Unlike the daylily, these lilies bloom for up to five weeks. The flowers are upward-facing and in a vibrant shade of red-orange. 

Rudbeckia hirta (black-eyed susan)

A vibrant cluster of Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) burst into view. Sunshine radiates from a multitude of golden petals, each one veined with intricate detail. Nestled in their centers, dark brown discs resemble balls of yarn, hinting at the promise of future bloom
These coneflowers are a low-maintenance alternative to daylilies.

The gorgeous black-eyed Susans may not give you the same look as a daylily, but they are dependable and low-maintenance perennials. Hardy in zones 3-9, Black-eyed Susans reach heights of up to three feet.

Their yellow-petaled flowers and their chocolate centers are classic garden perennials. Deadhead spent blossoms to encourage a second bloom and to keep this plant from spreading via seed. 

Final Thoughts

Do not forget that not all daylilies are invasive. If you have your plant tags or are very familiar with the varieties you are growing in your garden, you will easily be able to do research. Most hybridized daylilies are clump-forming and are not invasive. Treat your orange daylilies as needed and remove them where they are problematic. If they appear contained, keep your eyes on them and monitor their spread.

A vibrant orange Turk's cap lily blooms magnificently, showcasing deep spots against its petals. The sturdy stem gracefully supports the flower, while a soft blur highlights lush greenery in the backdrop.


How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Turk’s Cap Lilies

Want to know a little more about Turk’s cap lilies? Thinking of planting some but not sure if they’re a good fit for your yard? In this article, certified master gardener Liz Jaros breaks down this much-coveted lily species and offers suggestions for growing Turk’s cap lilies like a pro.

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