How to Grow Daylilies, Growing Daylilies | Gardener’s Supply

If there’s a perennial “safe bet,” it has to be the daylily. They thrive from Minnesota to Florida (Zones 3 to 9), tolerate a wide variety of soil conditions, are unconcerned with disease and pests, and bloom faithfully for years with virtually no attention. The botanical name for the lily, hemerocallis, means “beauty for a day” and, in fact, most lily flowers open in the morning and die in the evening. however, each flower stalk (also called a scape) typically has at least a dozen flower buds, so the plant stays in bloom for several weeks.

Unlike most perennials, daylilies are well suited to many different uses in the garden and landscape. shorter, more compact varieties do well planted directly in perennial borders, where their blooms provide a welcome mid-summer boost. In groups of 3 or 5, daylilies are ideal for garden plantings, especially when combined with ornamental grasses and small shrubs. Daylilies are also the perfect plant for mass plantings along a fence or driveway, where they will form a dense, weed-proof screen.

Reading: When do daylilies start to grow

Flower breeders have had a field day with daylilies and there are now thousands of named cultivars. These cultivars can be grouped in several ways: by bloom time (early, mid, and late), flower color (from white to yellow, pink, and purple), scape height (6 inches to 3 feet tall), and shape. flower (trumpet, double, ruffled, recurved).

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By choosing early, mid and late blooming cultivars, you can have lily flowers blooming for most of the summer. If you also mix various heights, flower colors and flower shapes, you can enjoy new and different flowers every day. professional horticulturists separate daylilies into several additional categories. These are some of the terms you may encounter:

  • diploid: These cultivars have 22 chromosomes in the plant. they tend to have more numerous, but smaller flowers than tetraploids, and an elegant, old-fashioned shape. many double-flowered lilies are diploid.
  • tetraploid: These lilies have 44 chromosomes. tetraploid daylilies tend to have larger, more intensely colored flowers than diploid daylilies. they are also supported by stronger, more resilient landscapes.
  • miniature: These compact varieties are 12 to 25 inches tall. the flowers are also smaller. they are excellent for small spaces and for planting directly in the border of perennials.
  • dormant: The foliage of these cultivars dies to the ground in fall, regardless of the weather. these cultivars grow best in cool climates. most lily cultivars fall into this category.
  • evergreen/semi-evergreen: Some lilies have foliage that remains evergreen or semi-evergreen throughout the winter in temperate areas. these cultivars are best suited to warm climate areas.
  • blooming: Some lily cultivars will bloom multiple times during the summer. In general, daylilies have a main blooming period in summer, followed by intermittent blooms, often until frost. removing faded flower heads encourages regrowth.
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plant care

Lilies flower best when planted in full sun (6 hours a day), in moist but well-drained soil. in hot climates, dark-colored cultivars should receive some afternoon shade to help them retain their flower color. when planted in the right spot, daylilies will bloom for years with little care. they do not require fertilization other than an annual addition of compost.

If you buy lilies by mail, plant them a few days after you receive them. in the south, plant in spring or fall while temperatures are still cool. in the north, daylilies should be planted in spring so they have enough time to establish before winter. however, daylilies are such hardy plants that, in the north, most can be planted anytime from spring through fall.

amend the soil with compost before planting. space plants 12 to 18 inches apart and plant so that the crown is about 1 inch below the soil surface. water well and cover with bark or straw to conserve moisture and prevent weeds from growing. Though hardy once established, young transplants should be kept weed-free and well-watered the first year.

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Lilies have few pests. however, a new lily disease, a type of rust, has been spreading throughout the county and has attacked many plants. To control this disease, keep the area around daylilies open and airy, remove diseased foliage, and water plants when rainfall is insufficient.

dividing lilies

One of the few routine maintenance tasks necessary when growing daylilies is dividing them. Depending on its growth, your daylily group will usually fill up after four or five years and bloom will taper off. in most areas, late summer is the best time to divide daylilies. in the north, early spring is an alternative option, especially if the weather tends to cool off quickly in the fall.

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Excavate individual clumps and place them on a tarp. use a sharp knife or shovel to separate healthy young plants (fans) with strong root systems. Cut foliage and replant immediately in soil amended with compost or plant in containers for storage. You’ll have plenty of extra plants from each group to give to friends and neighbors. Discard small or diseased plants.

winter care

In northern areas, newly planted daylilies can be mulched in late fall. this is important for young plants that might otherwise be pulled from the ground the first winter. dead foliage can be removed in spring, unless diseased. in that case it is best to remove it in the fall.

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