Daylily: A Perennial Favorite
by Sherri Allen
Whenever a beginning flower gardener asks me what to plant, my answer
is always the same -- daylilies. Without a doubt, daylilies rank high
among the easiest, most adaptable plants for the flower garden.
Daylilies will stand up to all but the most severe abuse and neglect,
repeating their colorful show year after year.
Like their name Hemerocallis (`beauty for a day`) indicates, the
individual daylily flower lasts only one day. A single plant may
produce over 50 flowers, however, extending the blooming period of a
plant for several weeks.
Daylilies produce a wide array of blooms. Some varieties
provide single trumpet-shaped flowers. Others are double, ruffled,
fringed or spiderlily-like. Bloom sizes among varieties range from 2 -
8 inches. Gardeners especially value daylilies for their wide range of
colors, as there are varieties available in every color except blue.
Some daylily blooms are a single color, but many are multi-colored.
Most daylilies have arching foliage that grows 18 to 24 inches tall.
Some varieties have erect foliage, however. Some grow as low as 12
inches and others reach 3 feet. Leaf color ranges from pale green to
dark green with a bluish cast.
Daylilies are perennial plants, with deciduous, semi-evergreen
and evergreen varieties available.
You can find daylily varieties for all U.S. zones, however, daylilies
thrive in zones 4 - 9.
Although they are adaptable to most soils, daylilies do best in
slightly acidic, moist soil that is high in organic matter and well
drained. Excessively rich soils may result in increased foliage growth
and decreased blooming.
Daylilies prefer full sun, but will tolerate light shade. In
the hotter regions, some light afternoon shade will protect the blooms
of some daylily varieties from fading.
Although daylilies are drought-tolerant once established,
consistent watering while they are budding and flowering will produce
better-quality flowers. During hot weather, they should be watered at
least weekly with 1/2 to 1 inch of water to encourage the best and
Propagation and Planting:
When planting daylilies, whether divisions or newly-purchased plants,
you should dig a hole slightly larger than the roots to be sure the
roots are allowed to spread out. Make a small cone of soil in the
center of the hole and place the plant on top, fanning the roots
outward and downward. Carefully work the soil in around the roots. The
crown should be set not more than an inch or so below the soil
surface. Tall cultivars should be spaced 24 to 30 inches apart with
smaller types 18 to 24 inches apart.
Daylilies are very easily propagated by the division of old
clumps. You should divide clumps when they become overcrowded, usually
every 4 to 6 years. For very vigorous cultivars, you may need to
divide them more often. The best time for dividing old clumps and
resetting divisions or new plants is from late summer to late autumn.
You may also plant them in the very early spring, however this may
result in decreased blooming the first season.
To divide a daylily clump, cut into the soil around the plant
with a spade and then lift the entire clump out of the soil with a
garden fork. To separate the plant into individual fans (a grouping of
leaves with roots attached), shake it to remove as much soil as
possible. If necessary, use a hose to wash away excess soil, then work
the roots apart into good-sized clumps of 3 - 4 fans each. You should
replant the new divisions as soon as possible, however, they should be
able to survive for several days if protected from the heat and sun.
Pest and Disease Prevention:
Daylilies are usually free from pests and diseases. Aphids and thrips
sometimes feed on the flower buds. These pests can be easily
controlled with insecticidal soaps, dishwashing liquid mixed with
water in a spray bottle or simply a strong spray of water.
Daylilies are most effective when planted in sweeping drifts or
masses. They are attractive in the perennial flower border when 3
plants or more of the same variety are planted together. They can add
great amounts of color to a landscape naturalization project.
Daylilies are also perfect for tough gardening situations. They
are salt tolerant, so they do well near the coast. When planted on
slopes and steep hills, they form a dense mat that helps prevent
erosion. Daylilies are even useful in areas prone to brush fires, as
their roots are engorged with water and, when planted in mass, can
stop a brush fire in its tracks.
While most flower gardeners are familiar with daylilies, few know that
practically every part of the daylily is edible. Daylilies are
actually higher in protein and Vitamin C than most of the vegetables
we eat. Some common ways of eating daylilies include adding fresh buds
and blossoms to salads, as well as battering and frying them like
squash blossoms. Dried daylily petals, called `golden needles` by the
Chinese, are an ingredient in many Chinese recipes, including
Daylilies are adaptable, vigorous perennials that thrive in the
garden, even when neglected. They are easy to establish and multiply
quickly. They are virtually pest- and disease-free. They even taste
good. Go out and find a sunny spot in your garden to add a new
daylily. You will quickly discover why daylilies are one of the flower
gardener`s favorite plants.
About the Author:
Sherri Allen is the editor of an award-winning website devoted to
topics such as family, food, garden, house&home and money. For
free articles, information, tips, recipes, reviews and coloring pages,