How to Grow Series
Daylilies (Hemerocallis) are probably my most favorite perennial of all time and can be grown in the majority of the United States (Zone 3 thru Zone 9). They are very easy to grow and are great for beginner gardeners as well as experienced gardeners who like to try their hand at hybridizing their own. I grow dozens of varieties in my yard and they only get better with age, it seems.
Daylilies are sometimes snubbed by gardeners because their blooms only last one day before wilting and dying. But what people sometimes seem to forget is that there are several blooms per stem and several stems per plant. Planting daylilies in mass can be stunning and a large part of any easy care garden. Planting different varieties can ensure blooms all year long.
Daylilies come in early, mid and late blooming varieties, some of which will re-bloom continually throughout the summer after an initial flush of spring blooms. There are tall varieties and short varieties, large blooming varieties and small blooming varieties, as well as double-blooming varieties and single spider-lily type varieties. There is sure to be a daylily to fit your garden style.
Daylilies love sunshine, but can benefit from dappled shade in the south. They literally can grow in nearly any type of soil as long as it drains fairly well. This can be accomplished by amending your soil with lots of compost and leaf mold or putting in raised beds for your garden.
Daylilies can be planted in spring or fall. You can purchase daylilies already growing in pots at garden centers or order them through the mail where they will be shipped bare root (see photo to the right).
When planting daylilies that have been growing in containers, plant them at the same level as they were growing in the pots. Dig the hole slightly wider than the pot so that the roots have loose soil to grow into.
When planting bare root daylilies, dig a hole that is wider rather than deeper and mound some soil in the middle of the hole. This mound will support the daylily roots. Fan the roots out on top of the mound and then cover with soil so that the roots are completely covered and the crown of the plant is level with the soil line. Water well to settle the soil around the roots and to remove any air pockets in the soil.
Daylilies should be watered weekly and more often in hot dry weather. About an inch of water a week is usually sufficient. Mulching around the plants will help keep the soil evenly moist.
Daylilies don't need a lot of fertilizer. A layer of compost once a year and a dose of organic fertilizer in early spring is all they really need.
At the end of the day, you can pop the spent blooms off the stems to make the garden look a little more neater, but I tend to accidentally pop off new blooms along with the spent blooms, so I generally leave the old blooms alone; they will fall off in a day or two anyway and can be picked up off the ground if you wish.
Daylilies have long grass-like foliage that can turn yellow after blooming and during drought. This foliage can be trimmed about halfway to make it look better and to encourage new green growth.
When daylilies are finished blooming for the year, you can cut off the stems to prevent seed pods from forming, which can drain energy from the plant. If you want to try and create your own hybrid daylilies you can cross pollinate different daylilies with each other and allow the seed pod to form. Once the seed pod has completely dried it will pop open and small black seeds will be inside. These seeds can be planted to start new plants that will bloom in 2-4 years time.
Daylilies can go several years without dividing. If you notice that the blooms are smaller than normal or fewer than normal, you can divide them. Sometimes the center of the plant will die out, also an indication that they should be dividing to rejuvenate the plant.
Dividing daylilies is best done in early spring as the shoots are just emerging from the ground or right after blooming, at least 6 weeks before your first frost. Start digging around each plant, about 2" away from the stems. The root ball should be fairly easy to dig out as long as their roots are not mixed up with more aggressive plants. Once dug out, the fans can be pulled apart and replanted all thru your garden or given to others. Larger clumps will bloom sooner than single fans.
View dozens of photos of the daylilies that I grow here.
When purchasing daylilies at the garden center, look for the largest pots possible that contain the largest plants. Look for three or more separate fans within that pot which can be divided when you get home to create more plants for the price of one.