Daylily Care

Wynn's Daylily Garden

Daylilies are perennials that require little effort and provide for months of blooming color and texture in the garden.

Daylilies are also known as "hemerocallis".  They are herbaceous plants with thick green foliage and leafless stems or "scapes" on which the flower bloom forms.  One scape can carry multiple flower blooms.

Daylilies can grow under a wide range of conditions.  This does not mean that they will thrive and perform well under neglect.  Like most plants, daylilies like TLC and will perform wonderfully for you if given a little attention.

LOCATION:  For maximum flower production, daylilies need sunlight for at least half of the day.  Morning sun is preferable.  Most cultivars will grow quite well in partial shade.  In light shade, flowers in colors of red and dark shades will profit from less exposure to the hot afternoon sun.

SOIL REQUIREMENTS:  Daylilies thrive in a variety of soils.  To get any soil in good physical condition, spade it deeply and work in generous amounts of organic matter, such as well rotted manure, compost, or peat moss.  This organic matter helps to maintain good tilth, aids in holding moisture, and acts as a storehouse for plant nutrients.  Sandy soils are especially benefit from the application of organic matter.

Composted manures will attract earthworms which will keep the soil well aerated, and in turn, this will benefit your plants.  The use of organic matter will decrease the use of commercial fertilizers.  Generally, 2-3 inches of organic matter applied to the soil surface and then mixed thoroughly into the soil will give desirable results.

WHEN TO PLANT:  If necessary, daylilies can be divided or planted successfully any month of the year in warmer climates.  For other regions of the country, planting should be done soon enough so that plants can establish a new root system before winter arrives.  Many gardeners transplant soon after the flowering period has ended.  If planting is done during the hot, dry period, it is advisable to water the plants until good growth resumes. 

Daylilies can be moved during the flowering season.  The advantage of moving during the flowering season is that color groupings can be made more easily.  However, it is recommended that excess foliage and scapes be cut off, allowing for quicker plant growth with the least amount of stress to the plant.

DIVIDING PLANTS:  Vigorous varieties respond to division every three to four years.  If allowed to remain longer, the vigor of the clump may be reduced due to competition.  Considerable force is usually necessary to pull old clumps apart.  Some plant types require cutting with a knife.  

Cut back the foliage to 6-8 inches.  You will notice that different cultivars may have different looking roots.  Some have enlarged roots and others very thin roots; this is a varietal characteristic.  

PLANTING:  When preparing beds, try to cut and dispose of tree roots.  The tree roots tend to take needed water and nutrients from the soil and daylilies need these to thrive.

New plants are set about as deep as they grew originally.  The original depth can be determined by the white leaf base, which indicates the parts that were underground.  A safe rule is to set the plant so that the point where roots and foliage meet (the crown) is no deeper than 1 inch below the surface of the soil.  Cover the roots with the soil, leaving a slight depression to make watering easier.  Water immediately and continue to water until the plants are well established.  Too deep planting may stunt daylily growth, cause poor flowering and yellowing or browning of the leaves.  Check to make sure you never plant too deep.

MULCHING:  Mulching has the desirable advantage of retaining moisture and discouraging weeds during the summer months.  Do not let the ground dry out for it is nearly impossible to wet the ground unless you remove the mulch.  Successful mulching can be done with any number of materials such as:  pine straw, old sawdust, pine bark, wood shavings and chips, decomposed leaves and decomposed grass clippings.  The mulching material should be about 1-2 inches after it has settled.  Be sure to check the soil PH yearly if using mulching materials.

WATERING:  Watering is necessary if you wish to have increase in plants and produce excellent scapes and flowers during the blooming season.  During blooming season, we water every couple of days.  This keeps the blooms large and the plants green and healthy.

FERTILIZATION:  Daylilies domuch better when fertilized twice a year.  Once in early March (for our area) and in again in October - November after you are finished dividing and replanting in fall.  In sandy soulds it maight be better to apply 3 small feedings in a year:  fall, spring, and after the blooming season.  We have best results using a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10.  We also use Milorganite which is activated sewage sludge.

Daylilies have few insect problems.  Attacks of thrips or spider mites can be controlled by an insecticide recommended by your local garden supply store.  If you prefer not to use chemical control, you might try releasing ladybugs into the garden.  REMEMBER, insecticides & fungiceds are dangerous and should be always handled with care and precautions.  Always follow label directions and store insecticides in safe places so that children do not have access to them.