This is one of the must-have plants for beginner gardening. You can’t kill this plant unless you put it in a closet and ignore it for several months. Well, I suppose if you don’t water it when you plant it, you’ll set it back but this is one tough plant.
Quick Facts About Hemerocallis
- Sunlight: Full hot sun to part shade
- Hardiness: The standard “Dormant” class to USDA 2, the evergreens less hardy into USDA 6 and the semi-evergreens marginal in 4.
- Height: from dwarf 18-inch to standard 5-foot
- Color: almost everything except true blue and true black
- Propagation: Seeds and Divisions
- Distance apart: plant approx 12-18 for shorter and 24-30 for taller
- Soils: Yes. (darn near anything works except fully submerged)
A daylily produces a flower a day (they actually last 2 days) for approximately 21 days. Some start booming in early June while others are much later into July. With a little manipulation, you can have some daylily in bloom for an extended time. Mind you, there is no way to get a repeat bloom – it’s one time a year with this plant.
And the nice thing is that the newer hybrids will bloom for 60 days or more. They are repeat bloomers – continually throwing new flushed of bloom. While they may cost a little more than the older plants (that bloom for 21 days) they are worth the extra cost just for the extended bloomtime.
Plant daylilies in any soil you have. They thrive in great soil and survive in both clay and sandier soils. They will not survive in bogs or water-logged soil.
Plant them in the full hot sunshine or in a part shade garden. The daylily takes full hot sunshine but also part-shade with afternoon sun. Growing them in morning sun and afternoon shade will lead to a weaker plant with fewer blooms but it can still be done.
Growing in full shade is not recommended as you won’t see many blooms at all.
Daylilies are rock hardy, able to withstand early frosts, late frosts, deep mind-numbing temperatures and the odd drought.
They bloom best in a soil that is liberally enriched with leaf mold and compost.
Adequate water right up until bloom time will also provide the best flower show. While they will survive droughts with ease, their blooms will be reduced. This is not a plant for the dry or xeric garden.
Those who specialize in growing these plants tell us that lifting the plant and dividing it every three years will produce the most blooms per plant. On the other hand, those same clumps will survive on their own in one place for many years and do not require dividing if you decide to be a lazy gardener. You won’t maximize your blooms per plant but you’ll have an amazing show from the clump.
If you want to increase the number of your plants, you’ll find a well-fertilized garden will let you divide the plants almost every year. First thing in the spring when the clumps start to grow, dig the plant out of the ground and divide off the young shoots. They’ll come easily away from the main plant and as long as the division has a good chunk of root with it, it will quickly establish itself. Larger and more established plants can be ruthlessly divided by using a shovel to cut off a piece of the plant in early spring. The entire plant does not have to be dug up to divide it; in fact, digging up a mature daylily can be quite a challenge and not done quickly.
The daylily can also be dug during or right after flowering and divided at that time. It doesn’t like doing this but if you happen to go to an old-fashioned nursery or daylily specialist, they’ll often do it this way. Cut back the leaves by one-third and plant as soon as possible in your garden. Keep the plant well watered and it will establish itself with little setback.
The American Hemerocallis Society categorizes daylilies into three classes: Evergreen, Semi-evergreen and Dormant types. Generally, unless you live in a USDA zone 6 garden, you’ll want to take a pass on the evergreen types, and the semi-evergreens are unreliable in USDA zone 4 to 6. A year with a poor snow cover or thawing to put a layer of ice over the plant will see death rates rise in the evergreen and semi-evergreen classes.
The Dormant plants though are hardy right up to zone 2 and these are the can’t kill ‘em type of plant for beginners. There are also leaf color and shape variations in these plants as well as height differences. The days of just getting a “daylily” are long over with well over 25,000 different varieties registered with the AHS.
It is almost impossible to even begin to list daylilies. Let me suggest you start with plants labeled as TrophyTaker (they’ve won a trophy for performance) Happy Ever Appster (they bloom repeatedly) and the Stella series (anything with a Stella in the name blooms repeatedly)
Here’s another post about daylilies that focusses on specific growing conditions and insect control