How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Daylilies
Do you want to grow bright and colorful daylilies in your gardens? In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago gives you tips on how to plant, grow, and care for these beautiful perennials.
Daylilies are a popular perennial well known for their trumpet-like flowers and graceful grass-like foliage. This perennial adds lovely color to any garden, even if it only lasts for a few days.
This is a plant that does not have much difficulty with pests or diseases. Even wildlife stays away from daylilies. If you have a lot of wildlife in your yard or if you are just looking for a low-maintenance plant, I urge you to give this plant a shot!
Let’s lean in and learn everything you will need to do to properly plant, grow, and care for the daylilies in your garden.
Plant Type Perennial
Native Area Asia and Europe
Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Height 1-4 feet
Watering Requirements Average
Pests and Diseases Snails, slugs
Soil Type Chalk, clay, loam. Moist and well-draining
Hardiness Zone 3-9
What Is It?
Daylilies are herbaceous perennials that produce long, grass-like foliage which grows into a fountain shape. From within this foliage, sturdy stems emerge with multiple flower buds, each bud opening to a lily-like flower in a variety of colors.
No matter what variety you select, these flowers will only last about 24 hours. Don’t worry; there are reblooming varieties on the market that will keep the color bursting in your garden for a large chunk of the growing season.
Daylilies bloom in the summer, but the Hemerocallis genus has been broken up even further by the time of the season in which the specific daylily varieties will bloom.
- Extra early: March or April in the South, May to June in the North
- Early: 3-5 weeks before “midseason”
- Early midseason: 2-3 weeks before “midseason”
- Midseason: May in the South and June in the North
- Late midseason: 1-3 weeks after “midseason”
- Late: 4-6 weeks after “midseason”
- Very late: late summer in the South, fall in the North
Daylilies originate from Asia and Europe. Due to their beauty and other excellent qualities, these plants grew in popularity and made their way through the Americas with the migration of European settlers. From here, the wild-growing daylily became a popular subject of botanists and plant hybridizers. The Hemerocallis genus has over 80,000 varieties today.
Whether planting from bare roots or seed, this plant is a breeze to grow. Let’s dig in!
Daylilies can be purchased in nursery pots or as bare-root plants. Either way, the planting process is pretty much the same.
- Dig a hole the same depth and width as your root clump. This is typically no deeper than one foot.
- Situate your clump so that the crown of the plant is just below the soil line. Arrange the roots so they are in a single layer.
- Backfill the hole with soil, tamping it as you go to ensure that all air pockets are filled.
- Water your daylily!
Growing from Seed
Daylilies can be grown from seeds that are purchased or harvested from daylilies growing in your garden.
Harvesting and Planting Seeds
If you plan to harvest your own seeds, it is important to remember that the plants you grow from seeds will likely not be exact replicas of the parent plant. With that in mind, let’s discuss seed propagation!
- Do not deadhead your flowers, and allow seed pods to dry on the stem. Wait for the tips of the seedheads to begin to burst open. When you see this happen, snip the seedheads.
- Remove the seeds from the heads. Open the pods over a tray or bag to catch any runaway seeds.
- Place these seeds in a moist paper towel. Put the seeds and towel in the refrigerator for 30 days to mimic the cold temperatures seeds would be exposed to in nature.
- You may notice your seeds germinating while they are in the fridge. This is okay! If they don’t germinate, this is okay too!
- Plant the seeds in a deep pot or cup in a sterile growing medium.
- You should notice germination within the first month as long as you keep the soil moist.
- Plant your seedlings once the temperatures are warm. June or July will do.
You can also direct sow your daylily seeds in the fall before the ground freezes.
How to Grow
Daylilies are one of the easiest plants to grow in your garden. Their foliage and flowers alike add beauty and classic grace to your flower beds. Let’s take a look at the details of how to properly care for these plants!
Daylilies grow best when they are growing in full sun. However, if you live in a warmer climate like the South, your daylilies will benefit from some afternoon shade.
Daylily flowers sometimes fade from sunlight exposure. Lighter varieties do not typically have issues with this, but if you are growing a deep red or purple variety, you may want to consider planting it where it will get a break from the sun in the afternoon.
Daylilies should be watered regularly for the first season or two in your garden until they are established. After that, these perennials are drought tolerant and only need to be watered through dry periods. The ideal amount of water for daylilies is about one inch per week. Use irrigation methods that provide slow, deep watering.
Daylilies are not too picky about the type of soil they grow in. These perennials need their soil to be moist but well-draining. This being said, I have personally seen daylilies grow in dry soil as well as over-saturated soil. For best results and long-term health, I would highly suggest moist and well-draining soil. This will help to avoid any root rot down the road.
Temperature and Humidity
This perennial is very tolerant of heat and humidity, adding to its versatility and ease of care. During high heat and drought, you may need to provide supplemental water for your daylilies.
Fertilizer is not necessary while growing daylilies. If you would like to give your plants a boost, add a layer of compost around their base or apply a basic garden fertilizer.
Daylilies are the definition of a low-maintenance plant. But that maintenance level can depend on how many daylilies you have. I have worked on large daylily gardens that take days to clean up, but your standard garden will only need a few minutes of your time each season.
As we have mentioned, the beautiful flowers of the daylily will typically last only one day. While each stem may bear multiple flowers, I typically wait until all of the flowers are spent on that stem.
Using clean, sharp snips, follow the stem down to the base of the leaves and remove the stem, making a clean cut. This will prevent your flower from producing seed. Leave the stems intact if you want to wait to collect seeds. You can easily remove them when everything has dried out in the fall by simply pulling on the stem.
Keep in mind that if you do not deadhead your daylilies before they go to seed, the plants will use a significant amount of energy. If you do not plan to use the seeds, deadhead as soon as you can.
Removing yellowing leaves throughout the season will encourage new leaf production, keeping your daylily green and flush. In the fall, you have a few options when it comes to cleaning up the leaves of your daylilies.
- Go around with snips or shears and neatly trim the foliage to ground level.
- Wait for the foliage to dry and turn brown and rake up the foliage, or remove it by hand.
- Do nothing. Cleaning up the dried foliage is not necessary, it is just a preference depending on how neat you want your garden.
Propagating daylilies is a great way to expand your daylily garden while also giving your plants some room to breathe. The best way to do this is by dividing daylily clumps.
Propagating daylilies through division is a very simple process that is best done in the early spring or in the fall. Divide them every few years to encourage healthy growth and beautiful flowers.
- Dig up your clump of daylilies and gently brush away the dirt so you can get a better look at your plant’s root system.
- Next, using a hori hori knife or a sharp spade, split the larger clump into a few smaller ones.
- Ensure that each clump looks healthy by inspecting the roots, making sure that there are no rotted areas.
- Replant your daylily clumps as soon as possible.
This award-winning variety is stunning. If you are looking for a purple daylily, look no further. The deep, velvety purple to maroon flowers can reach up to six inches in diameter and are beautifully contrasted by a lime green throat. ‘Bella Lugosi’ is a blooms midseason.
‘Bess Ross’ is a beautiful red award-winning daylily. Blooming in midseason, these red petals curve backward, opening to a beautiful gold eye. The flowers will grow to about four inches in diameter.
Lies and Lipstick
Perfectly pink, ‘Lies and Lipstick’ is a compact daylily variety. The compactness is in its height- not its flower size. These flowers reach up to five inches in diameter. Blooming in midseason, the flowers bloom in a beautiful shade of pink with raspberry-red edges and halos. The throat of this variety is golden.
This variety is a fan favorite because it reblooms and does well in partial shade. It’s a highly floriferous plant that produces golden yellow flowers that are about three inches in diameter. It has a longer blooming period, lasting throughout the summer and sometimes into the fall.
‘Tiger Swirl’ offers an upgrade to the standard, and oftentimes invasive, orange daylily. The brightly colored petals twist themselves into a curly and swirly design. The eye of this flower is pinkish-red, while the throat is the same bright orange as the rest of the petals. This midseason blooming daylily produces flowers that reach seven inches in diameter.
Daylilies do not typically run into issues with pests or diseases, but there are a few things you should look out for.
Slugs and snails have been found on older leaves or flowers where moisture has collected. You can keep these pests away by keeping your garden neat and removing dead leaves.
Aphids can be found on daylilies, as with just about every other plant in your garden. Keep your eyes peeled for their large populations, and hose your plant down if you spot them.
Daylilies do not have issues with any common garden diseases. If you notice yellowing or other discoloring of your leaves, do not be alarmed. This is likely due to sun scorch, which occurs if your daylilies are getting too much hot sun.
This is not a disease, nor does it do any harm to your plants aside from making them appear temporarily unattractive. You may need to move your plants to a less sunny location or check the moisture levels in your gardens.
Daylilies are beautiful perennials that come in just about every color of the rainbow. The wide variety available, combined with their ease of care, is what makes these perennials so popular. While their flowers only last a day, the wait is well worth it.