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Daylilies: The Perfect Perennials

Rebecca is a retired special education teacher. She earned a master's degree at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA.

Daylilies are the perfect perennial.

Daylilies are the perfect perennial.

Why Daylilies Are the Perfect Perennial

It is hard to top the classic long-lasting beauty of daylilies. Known by many as the “perfect perennial,” daylilies can bloom happily from late spring to late summer with the proper care and the right cultivar or variety. They are popular for their recurring blooming and the vast array of colors and shapes of flowers.

Native to Asia, the scientific name for daylilies is Hemerocallis, which comes from the Greek words for day and beauty, describing the life span of one blossom.

Although the showy, hardy daylily thrives in slightly acidic soil, they are highly adaptable to all soil types. Some cultivars have even spread to grow like wildflowers. Daylilies live for years and can often be seen growing in abandoned lots.

Daylilies in an abandoned lot

Daylilies in an abandoned lot

Landscaping With Daylilies

Daylilies can be used in landscaping in a variety of ways. They are excellent on a hill or slope that is hard to mow. Popular choices in commercial landscaping, they are good for perimeter planting.

Plant them alongside evergreens such as boxwood or English ivy for a dramatic effect, or just plant them in your flower garden for long-lasting summer beauty.

Growing and Caring for Daylilies

Daylilies grow in several hardiness zones, but it is probably best to purchase them from a local nursery rather than ordering them online. This way you will be sure to get the right cultivars for your zone.

Plant them in the spring or fall while the soil is warm. They will need to establish a root system before winter if planted in the fall. For spring planting, plant after the soil has had time to get warm. Although they will tolerate shade, they do best with at least six hours of full sun.

All cultivars grow in clumps and have crowns with flowers that branch out from a stem called the scape. They range in height from 1–3 feet.

Daylilies in a border garden

Daylilies in a border garden

Care Tips for Growing Healthy Daylilies

Daylilies are survivors and can withstand neglect, as we have seen with the ones growing in an abandoned lot. Follow these tips for knockout daylilies.

  • Plant in slightly acidic soil in a location that gets at least six hours of sunlight.
  • Choose the right cultivars for your growing zone.
  • Fertilize with time-release fertilizer while they are growing the most.
  • Water the fertilizer thoroughly.
  • Beginning in June, fertilize repeat bloomer cultivars with a household plant fertilizer once a month.
  • Deadhead spent blooms.
  • In late summer, trim off brown leaves.
  • Fertilize again after blooming for the season.

Dividing Daylilies

Divide daylilies to keep them from overcrowding, when getting taken over by nearby plants, or simply because you change your mind where you want them. Divide right after summer flowering, making sure each clump removed has an intact root system.

Get them into the ground quickly, giving them at least two months to become established in the new location before winter. The time to divide will vary between growing zones.

Daylilies in an informal arrangement

Daylilies in an informal arrangement

Daylilies in Arrangements

Daylilies are not normally used as cut flowers for formal arrangements; however, as new flowers grow and open to replace picked ones quickly, they are perfect for informal arrangements.

Pair a few with Queen Anne’s Lace and other wildflowers for a charming informal bouquet for outdoor entertaining.

Hybridizing Daylilies

A fascinating feature for daylilies is the thousands of cultivars that have been developed by hybridizers. There are currently over 35,000 of them in lots of glorious colors: from creamy ivory to deep reds and purples. In addition to solid colors, some cultivars have a different color “throat," or inside part of the flower.

Form, shape, and color vary between cultivars. Some daylilies have been developed to look like a flower within a flower, others are trumpet-shaped, resembling a true lily.

Traits of Daylilies Developed by Hybridizers

  • Scent
  • Height
  • Ruffled edges
  • Flower color
  • Flower shape
  • Contrasting color in the center
  • Glittery look referred to as diamond dust

10 Popular Daylily Cultivars

CultivarColorGrowing Zone

Always Afternoon

Mauve & Purple

4–10

Moonlit Masquerade

Ivory & Purple

3–9

Frilly Bliss

Soft Pink & Rose Colored Halo

3–9

Bill Norris

Deep Yellow

3–10

Long Stocking

Red & Bright Yellow

4–10

Black Ambrosia

Blackish Purple

4–10

Pirate's Patch

Ivory & Purple

5–10

Baby Boomer

Yellow & Dark Purple

5–10

Aaron’s Little Whopper

Yellow & Red

4–10

Orange Velvet

Bright Orange

3–9

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 24, 2021:

How cool! I'd love to see it.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on May 23, 2021:

I LOVE daylilies! In fact, I just self published the Daylily Coloring Book based on photos of my many varieties of them in my garden. Thanks for sharing the daylily love!

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 23, 2021:

Ha Ha Good idea!

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 22, 2021:

Reading this information made me want to go plant daylilies in abandoned lots to spruce them up.

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 21, 2021:

It would! Thanks, Linda!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 20, 2021:

It would be fascinating to explore 35,000 cultivars! Thank you for sharing the information about these lovely plants. Your flower arrangement is beautiful.

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 19, 2021:

Thanks, Linda! My favs.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on May 19, 2021:

Your gorgeous daylilies! These are beautiful color flowers!

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on May 19, 2021:

Yellow ones are my favorite.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 19, 2021:

Daylilies are a plant that we have enjoyed growing in multiple places. My grandmother had the most beautiful lemon-colored ones.

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