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.

A close-up of vibrant orange daylilies. These daylilies boast vivid orange petals with delicate ruffled edges, showcasing a rich, warm hue. Their slender, elongated leaves sprawl gracefully, presenting a deep green color and smooth, blade-like contours.

Contents

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. 

Overview

A close-up of yellow daylilies exhibiting striking blooms, with soft, buttery petals unfurling in intricate layers. Their vibrant green leaves, slender and arching, complement the flowers, offering a lush backdrop with defined veins and a glossy texture.
Plant Type Perennial 
Family Hemerocallidaceae
Genus Hemerocallis
Species Spp. 
Native Area Asia and Europe
Exposure Full sun to partial shade 
Height 1-4 feet 
Watering Requirements Average
Pests and Diseases Snails, slugs
Maintenance Low 
Soil Type Chalk, clay, loam. Moist and well-draining
Hardiness Zone 3-9

What Is It?

Characteristics

A close-up of blossoms featuring intricate layers of petals, radiating a vibrant hue. Their leaves, long and slender, possess a deep green shade, providing a textured contrast against the blurred background of more daylilies.
Fleeting beauties, each bloom endures for only one day.

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

Native Area

A close-up of three orange daylily flowers. These three orange daylily flowers reveal intricate, layered petals, vibrant and full-bodied. In the background, the leaves create a verdant tapestry, basking in the sunlight, casting shadows that accentuate their slender, elongated shapes.
Originally from Asia and Europe, daylilies were brought to America by early European settlers.

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.

Planting

Whether planting from bare roots or seed, this plant is a breeze to grow. Let’s dig in!

Transplanting

The lush, green leaves of these daylilies fan out gracefully, forming dense clumps on the ground. Their vibrant hue and smooth texture create a picturesque scene, accentuating the plant's beauty and resilience in clumps.
Don’t forget to give your newly planted daylilies a good watering.

Daylilies can be purchased in nursery pots or as bare-root plants. Either way, the planting process is pretty much the same. 

  1. Dig a hole the same depth and width as your root clump. This is typically no deeper than one foot. 
  2. 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.
  3. Backfill the hole with soil, tamping it as you go to ensure that all air pockets are filled. 
  4. 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

A close-up of daylily seeds showcasing their vibrant red and green hues. The seeds rest delicately on slender branches, their colorful skin a fusion of verdant green and deep crimson, evoking nature's intricate artistry in miniature form.
Plant these seeds in a deep pot with clean soil, ensuring moisture is present.

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!

  1. 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.
  2. Remove the seeds from the heads. Open the pods over a tray or bag to catch any runaway seeds. 
  3. 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. 
  4. You may notice your seeds germinating while they are in the fridge. This is okay! If they don’t germinate, this is okay too!
  5. Plant the seeds in a deep pot or cup in a sterile growing medium. 
  6. You should notice germination within the first month as long as you keep the soil moist. 
  7. 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!

Light

A close-up of radiant yellow daylilies in full bloom. Their yellow petals stretch open like sunbursts, while lush, verdant leaves provide a rich backdrop, framing the vibrant blossoms in a tapestry of vibrant hues and natural elegance.
Daylilies thrive in full sun but benefit from afternoon shade in warmer regions.

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. 

Water

A close-up of daylily blooms in hues of yellow-orange, adorned with dew-kissed moisture. Against a blurred backdrop of lush green leaves, the blooms stand out, their lively colors and delicate petals enhanced by glistening water droplets.
Water daylilies consistently for the first couple of seasons.

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.

Soil

A close-up of hands cradling a handful of moist black soil, its richness evident in its dark hue and damp texture. The soil's deep, velvety blackness contrasts starkly against the skin, hinting at fertility and the promise of growth.
Daylilies are adaptable to many soil types but thrive in moist yet well-draining conditions.

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

A close-up of a daylily plant capturing its magnificent large flower with snow-white petals and delicate pink centers. The vivid bloom stands amidst lush green leaves, a captivating display of nature's grace and botanical charm.
Keep in mind to provide extra water for them when temperatures increase.

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. 

Fertilizing

A shovel holds rich, dark compost pile soil, teeming with organic matter. The sunlight illuminates the earthy tones, highlighting the intricate textures and tiny fragments within the soil, while fallen leaves surround the shovel.
Adding compost around the plant base can provide a beneficial boost if desired.

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.

Maintenance

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.  

Deadheading

Pruning shears in a man's hands trim the daylily stems with precision, removing spent blooms. The cut stems reveal a clean break, promoting new growth. Amidst vibrant green plants in the garden, the focus remains on the meticulous deadheading process.
Trim the stem at the base of the leaves to stop seed production.

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

Leaf Removal

A close-up displays daylilies undergoing leaf removal, revealing fresh growth emerging from the dark, fertile soil. The stems exhibit signs of vigorous growth, hinting at blooming potential. Surrounding the soil, a lush green lawn complements the gardening activity.
Maintaining green and vibrant daylilies involves regularly removing yellowing leaves.

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. 

  1. Go around with snips or shears and neatly trim the foliage to ground level.
  2. Wait for the foliage to dry and turn brown and rake up the foliage, or remove it by hand.
  3. Do nothing. Cleaning up the dried foliage is not necessary, it is just a preference depending on how neat you want your garden. 

Propagation

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. 

Division

Hands clad in gloves delicately divide the daylily plants, their roots still embedded in rich brown soil. Green shoots of stems and leaves emerge, showcasing the plant's resilience and readiness for individual growth. The act of splitting occurs amidst the earthy tones of the garden.
Divide daylilies every few years for robust growth and stunning blooms.

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. 

  1. 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.
  2. Next, using a hori hori knife or a sharp spade, split the larger clump into a few smaller ones. 
  3. Ensure that each clump looks healthy by inspecting the roots, making sure that there are no rotted areas.
  4. Replant your daylily clumps as soon as possible. 

Bela Lugosi

The Bela Lugosi daylily variety boasts vibrant purple flowers adorned with striking yellow centers, exuding an alluring contrast. Lush, deep green leaves complement the vivid blooms, adding a backdrop of verdant beauty to the captivating floral display.
This midseason bloomer stands out with its remarkable appearance.

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

A close-up of Bess Ross daylily featuring vibrant red blooms and velvety petals unfurling gracefully. The striking crimson hue dances amid hints of orange, creating a mesmerizing tapestry. Lush green leaves sprawl elegantly beneath, providing a verdant backdrop to this floral spectacle.
These flowers typically reach a fairly wide diameter.

‘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

A close-up of Lies and Lipstick daylily with soft pink blooms flaunting darker, almost burgundy centers. The delicate petals exude a gentle allure, framed by lush green leaves that accentuate their ethereal beauty. Adjacent, a dark gray rock adds contrasting depth to this picturesque scene.
Despite its compactness in height, this daylily variety has significant impact.

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.

Stella d’Oro

A close-up of dazzling yellow blooms, radiating warmth with their sunny disposition. Each petal boasts a delicate texture, casting a golden glow against the backdrop of vibrant green leaves. Their elegant foliage frames the blooms in a harmonious embrace.
The highly favored daylily thrives in partial shade and delights with its reblooming quality.

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

A close-up of intricately patterned blooms flaunting a mesmerizing fusion of fiery oranges and deep reds. Each petal boasts delicate lines and gradients, creating an enchanting visual symphony, capturing attention with its vibrant allure.
During midseason, this variety blooms with seven-inch diameter flowers.

‘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

Common Problems

Daylilies do not typically run into issues with pests or diseases, but there are a few things you should look out for. 

Pests

A close-up of delicate white petals blush with subtle hints of purple, adding a touch of ethereal charm to their pristine beauty. A small snail creeps along, a contrasting pest amidst the bloom's purity. Nearby, petite white flowers from another plant add a serene, complementary touch.
Maintain a tidy garden and eliminate dead leaves from the soil to prevent slugs and snails.

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

Diseases

A close-up of withered daylily bloom. The once vibrant yellow bloom now wilts, its petals curling and fading, a poignant testament to transient beauty. In the blurred backdrop, leaves stand witness, a reminder of the cycle of life and nature's quiet resilience.
Consider relocating suffering lilies to a shadier spot or monitor your garden’s moisture levels if you notice yellowing leaves.

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. 

Final Thoughts

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.  

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