Daylily plants are one of the most popular low-maintenance perennials. They are tough, long-lived and tolerant of neglect. They bloom profusely, though individual blooms only last a day. Varieties number in the tens of thousands, but the most well-known is ‘Stella de Oro’ with bright golden yellow flowers that bloom from spring until fall. Daylilies grow from fleshy roots, unlike true lilies that grow from bulbs.

On this page: Basics | Planting Daylilies | Care | Pictures | Design Tips | Daylilies vs. Lilies | Buy Daylilies

DAYLILY BASICS

Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’. Photo by: Walters Gardens, Inc.

Zones:

3-9, for most.

Height & spread:

Foliage clumps range from less than 1 foot to 3 feet tall. Flower scapes can be less than 1 foot to 6 feet tall, though most are 3 to 4 feet.

Exposure:

Full sun is preferred, but they will tolerate light shade — which is best for pastel-colored flowers to prevent fading.

When do daylilies bloom:

Plants bloom in late spring and summer, depending on your region and zone. In milder regions, early bloomers will flower in mid-spring, mid-season bloomers in mid-to-late spring, and late bloomers in late spring to early summer. Blooming will happen a few weeks later in the North than in the South. Individual blooms only last for a day, but multiple flowers on each stem bloom in succession, extending the overall bloom time for a single plant to about a month.

Some varieties rebloom, flowering several times throughout the season until fall. Rebloomers generally perform best in mild southern climates. One of the most popular rebloomers, ‘Stella de Oro’, begins flowering with the early bloomers and continues until fall.

Daylily colors & characteristics:

Hybrids come in a rainbow of colors, including pale cream, shades of yellow, orange, red, pink and purple to almost black. The only colors not represented are true white and shades of blue. Most of the wild species are shades of yellow and orange. Flowers have 3 petals and 3 narrower petal-like sepals, and depending on the variety, can range from 3 to 15 inches across. Flowers bloom on leafless stems (scapes) that rise above the long, narrow, strap-shaped foliage. Mature plants can have up to 4 to 6 scapes, each with multiple flowers.

Flowers come in a variety of forms including:

  • Single: Original configuration with 3 petals and 3 narrower sepals.
  • Double: Petal-like stamens create the look of another set of petals.
  • Circular: Overlapping petals and sepals produce a rounded shape.
  • Triangular: Recurving (backward-curving) sepals, giving an overall triangle shape.
  • Star-shaped: Pinched petals, recurving narrow sepals, closed at the flower’s throat.
  • Spider: Petals and sepals which are much longer than normal.

Types of daylilies:

Daylilies are classed by flower size: miniature, small and large.

  • Miniature: Flower sizes are less than 3 inches in diameter.
  • Small: These plants have flowers that are 3 to 4-1/2 inches in diameter.
  • Large: Flowers are 4-1/2 inches or larger.

There are also evergreen types and types that go dormant over winter. The evergreens are typically better for warm or cooler climates, and those that go dormant are better for colder climates.

Toxicity:

Daylilies are toxic to cats, but not to dogs or humans. However, they may cause stomach upset to dogs if ingested. They look similar to true lilies which are extremely toxic to both dogs and cats.

PLANTING DAYLILIES

Photo by: Sarycheva Olesia / Shutterstock.

When to plant:

Container-grown or bareroot daylilies can be planted in spring or autumn, but no later than 6 weeks before the first frost. In mild climates, you can plant in summer. They’ll take about a year to establish themselves and then will spread quickly, forming dense clumps.

Where to plant: :

For best blooming, plant in an area that will receive at least 6 hours of sun. Light-colored varieties will keep their color better in areas that have some shade. Daylilies will tolerate poor soil quality, but not poor drainage, so make sure the site drains well. Daylilies are one of few plants that can be planted under black walnut trees because they are not affected by the chemical juglone that is leached into the soil by the tree.

How to plant:

When transplanting daylilies, either container-grown or bare-root, the planting hole should be at a depth so that the crown is at the same height as originally grown. A band of white at the base of the foliage indicates what part was underground. A high-phosphorus fertilizer can be added to speed growth. Keep newly planted daylilies watered well. Mulch can be added to help hold in moisture.

Daylilies aren’t usually grown from seed by gardeners, as they rarely come true — meaning, have the same characteristics as the parent plant. Hybridizers do use daylily seedlings to create new varieties.

For more information on planting bulbs, read Bulbs 101.

DAYLILY CARE

Deadheading:

Remove spent flowers regularly to keep them looking their best. To avoid seed pods from forming, make sure you are getting the entire flower and not just the petals. Be careful with the darker purple varieties, as they can stain your hands or clothes. Deadheading is critical for subsequent flowering in reblooming daylilies. Some say that because of the number of blooms they produce and the fact that they only last one day, deadheading can be a lot of work. If you agree, there are some rare smaller-flowered varieties that are self-cleaning.

Maintenance:

When leaves yellow, remove them from the base by grasping them firmly and giving them a quick tug. After all blooming is done, plants can be sheared to the level of new growth or 6 to 8 inches from the ground and stems cut back to the base. Keep them watered well and you’ll get decent regrowth in 2 to 4 weeks. For reblooming types, simply removing dead or yellowed leaves is preferred over shearing because new flower stalks may be cut off unknowingly. In mild climates, they may remain semi-evergreen, and cutting back should be done in early spring before flower stalks appear.

Soil:

Daylilies prefer moist, average to rich, well-drained soil. They will tolerate poor soil, but won’t tolerate poor drainage.

Amendments & fertilizer:

Daylilies benefit from a balanced fertilizer and appreciate some extra nitrogen in the spring. Fertilizing once or twice in spring and once in fall will encourage strong growth, larger bloom size, and winter hardiness.

Watering:

They will perform best with consistent watering — about 1 inch per day (7-10 inches per week), especially in spring when scapes and buds are forming and while blooming.

Propagation:

Daylilies are typically propagated by division of roots. Divide sparse-flowering or overcrowded clumps every 3 to 4 years, or every 2 years for reblooming types. Dig them up in early spring before blooming or late summer after blooming. Cut or pull the crowns apart carefully and replant.

Pests & diseases:

Although seldom bothered by pests, aphids, spider mites or thrips may attack flower buds or foliage. Slugs and snails can also be attracted to tender foliage. If daylily rust (a fungus that damages foliage) is a problem, you may want to consult a local nursery for rust-resistant types to grow in your area.

Daylilies are usually safe from rabbits. However, they are a favorite of deer, so set up deterrents if needed.

Daylily Pictures

Swipe to view slides

Photo by: noxx/ Pixabay.com.

Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’

Buy now on Amazon

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

15 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom time:

Early summer and into fall

Color:

Golden yellow with a darker throat

The most popular daylily, this rebloomer will keep the flowers coming all summer and into fall. Its compact size makes it perfect for containers or borders. The lightly fragrant flowers are 2-3/4” across and have ruffled edges.

Photo by: 99Erika99 / Pixabay.com.

Hemerocallis fulva original orange

Buy now on Amazon

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

Up to 48 inches tall, 20 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom time:

Early to late summer

Color:

Shades of orange with yellow throat

Widely recognized for naturalizing roadsides, banks and hillsides, this orange daylily makes a great groundcover. It’s large, 3- to 5-inch, bright orange flowers are irresistible to pollinators of all types.

Photo by: Walters Gardens, Inc.

Hemerocallis ‘Happy Returns’

Buy now on Amazon

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

18 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom time:

Early summer and repeats sporadically until frost

Color:

Shades of yellow

This compact and fragrant yellow daylily has good drought tolerance. Its 3” flowers are fragrant and bloom on and off all summer and into fall.

Photo by: Walters Gardens, Inc.

Hemerocallis ‘Pardon Me’

Buy now on Amazon

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

18 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom time:

Midsummer and again in mid-to-late fall

Color:

Shades of red with a yellow watermark and green throat

This miniature rebloomer is a nocturnal daylily, meaning that its flowers open the night before. It is heavily budded with 2- to 3-inch flowers that have ruffled petals and smooth sepals.

Photo by: Walters Gardens, Inc.

Hemerocallis ‘Joan Senior’

Buy now on Amazon

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

30 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom time:

Early to mid-summer and again in fall

Color:

Shades of white

The closest to an actual white daylily, ‘Joan Senior’ has large 5-inch flowers with ruffled and recurved sepals and petals with raised veining. Its foliage is evergreen in most climates.

Photo by: Walters Gardens, Inc.

Hemerocallis ‘Strawberry Candy’

Buy now on Amazon

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

26 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom time:

Mid-summer and again later in fall

Color:

Shades of pink with yellow throat

The flowers on this reblooming variety are 4-1/2 inches wide with ruffled petals and smooth sepals.

Photo by: Walters Gardens, Inc.

Hemerocallis ‘Bela Lugosi’

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

33 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom time:

Mid-summer

Color:

Purple flowers with lime green throat

Known as one of the best, this purple daylily holds its color well in the sun. Its flowers are 6 inches across and foliage is semi-evergreen.

Photo by: Walters Gardens, Inc.

Hemerocallis ‘Desert Flame’

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

36 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom time:

Mid-summer and again later in fall

Color:

Shades of gold, orange and red

An excellent performer, this rebloomer has vibrant color and tall, strong scapes.

Photo by: Walters Gardens, Inc.

Hemerocallis ‘Little Grapette’

Buy now on Amazon

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

12 to 18 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom time:

Mid-summer

Color:

Shades of purple with lime green throat

Winner of multiple awards, this miniature daylily’s blooms are only 2 inches across. Its small size makes it perfect for the front of a border.

Photo by: Walters Gardens, Inc.

Hemerocallis ‘Ruby Spider’

Buy now on Amazon

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

34 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to partial shade

Bloom time:

Early summer

Color:

Shades of red and golden yellow throat and midribs

This award winner has large 9-inch flowers with long, spoon-shaped petals. ‘Ruby Spider’ makes an impressive visual impact when planted singly or en masse.

LANDSCAPE DESIGN TIPS

  • Perfect choice for mass plantings, beds, borders and meadow gardens.
  • For beds or borders, use small-flowered minis at the front edge, large-flowered mid-height varieties in the middle, and long-stemmed spider types at the back.
  • Small and mini varieties are well-suited for containers.
  • Plant unusual, distinctive varieties up close where you can see them, on a porch or patio.
  • Daylilies are outstanding when interplanted with other perennials, annuals, bulbs or shrubs like coneflower, iris, phlox, verbena, yarrow, Shasta daisy, black-eyed Susan, bee balm, or ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum.

HOW TO TELL A DAYLILY FROM A TRUE LILY

Daylily (Hemerocallis) True lily (Lilium)
Roots: Tuberous roots, easily divided Bulb
Size: 1 to 4 feet 6 inches to 10 feet
Leaves: Flat, long, strap-shaped, grow at the soil line from the crown of the plant Grow on the stem in spirals or whorls
Stems: Thin leafless scapes, may be branched, grow from the base of the plant One central stem grows from the bulb, unbranched
Flowers: Each has 3 petals and 3 sepals, 6 to 7 stamen, blooms last only 1 day Each has 6 petals and 6 anthers, blooms last a week or more
Photo:
Photo by: Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.

PLACES TO BUY DAYLILIES

You can order daylily divisions from the following sources and have them mailed to your home:

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