How to Grow Daylilies, ‘the Perfect Perennial’
If ever there was a competition for the “perfect perennial,” daylilies would be at the top of the list. Nearly carefree, pest and disease resistant, tough and adaptable, drought-tolerant, and gorgeous, daylilies are perfect whether you’re planting a show garden or naturalizing an eroding hillside.
Here are some tips for selecting, planting, and caring for daylilies.
‘Jersey Spider’ daylily arches gracefully toward the sun.
Daylilies are clumping perennials with fibrous roots. They are not true lilies but instead belong to the genus Hemerocallis, which means “beauty for a day.” And while it’s true that daylily blooms last only one day, they make up for it by producing hundreds of blooms throughout the season.
With over 35,000 cultivated varieties of daylilies, the choices are mind-boggling! Planning a daylily garden can be great fun – I know one gardener who sought out daylily varieties named for her grandchildren, while other gardeners collect varieties with particularly unusual or surprising blossoms. Visit a daylily farm, or consult a mail-order catalogue, for interesting daylilies for your own collection.
When selecting daylilies for your garden, you have many choices, including:
‘Jean Swann’ daylily.
- Flower color: All shades of yellow, cream, orange, pink, red, and purple are available; along with multicolored varieties that can be bicolor, dotted, banded, edged, or tipped.
- Flower type: Daylily flowers come in various sizes and have many shapes, including circular, triangular, star-shaped, spider-shaped, and ruffled blossoms with single, double, or triple petals.
- Bloom habit: Both diurnal (day blooming) and nocturnal (night blooming) varieties are available.
- Bloom time: Early to late summer, with classifications including Early, Midseason, and Late. Ever-blooming varieties are also available. In general, each plant will bloom for about a month, so choose a variety of bloom times for all-summer color.
- Foliage habit: Dormant (dying to the ground in the winter), Evergreen, and Semi-Evergreen types are available.
- Size: From 6 inches to 4 feet in height.
Triple blossom daylily.
‘Spider to the Fly’ is another multicolored daylily.
- Hardiness: Zones 3-9, depending on variety.
- Soil: Daylilies will grow in most any soil but bloom better if compost is added to improve drainage and nutrients.
- Light: Full sun (6 hours per day).
- Moisture: Drought-tolerant, but blooms better with an inch of water a week.
- Space: Daylilies don’t like competition, and the clumps quickly spread to fill in large areas, so give them plenty of space.
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