Daylilies are popular, easy-to-grow, low-maintenance perennials that are tough, long-lived, and tolerant of neglect. They bloom profusely, though individual blooms only last a single day, and varieties number in the tens of thousands. Daylilies grow from fleshy roots, unlike true lilies that grow from bulbs.

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

DAYLILY BASICS

Rainbow Rhythm® 'Orange Smoothie' daylily. Photo by Proven Winners.

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. They may tolerate some light shade; however, flowering is best in full sun.

When do daylilies bloom?


  • Depending on the type, plants may begin blooming mid-spring, and some continue until fall.
  • In milder regions, they will begin blooming a few weeks earlier than in colder areas.
  • 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, such as Rainbow Rhythm® 'Going Bananas', flowering several times throughout the season until fall. Rebloomers generally perform best in mild southern climates.

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.
  • Flowers have 3 petals and 3 narrower petal-like sepals, and come in a variety of forms including single, double, spider, and star-shaped.
  • Plants are classified by flower size (miniature, small, and large) and range from 3 to 15 inches across.
  • Flowers bloom on leafless stems (scapes) that rise above long, narrow foliage. Mature plants can have several scapes, each with multiple flowers.
  • There are 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. See more Common Poisonous Plants for Dogs and Cats.

HOW TO PLANT DAYLILIES

Photo by: Sarycheva Olesia / Shutterstock.

When to plant:

Container-grown or bareroot daylilies can be planted in spring or no later than 6 weeks before the first frost in autumn. In mild climates, they can be planted 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. They 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, dig a hole deep enough so that the crown of the plant will be 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.

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. Deadheading is critical for subsequent flowering in reblooming types. 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. (Note: Be careful with the darker purple varieties, they can stain your hands or clothes.)

Maintenance:

Remove yellowed or dead foliage from the base by grasping firmly and giving 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. In mild climates, plants 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 during the growing season (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. It is important to water plants regularly in spring when scapes and buds are forming and also while blooming.

Dividing:

Sparse flowering can be a sign of overcrowding. Dig up and divide 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.

Deer & rabbits:

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

PICTURES OF DAYLILIES

Swipe to view slides

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Rainbow Rhythm® ‘Orange Smoothie’Buy now from Proven Winners

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

24 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Part sun to sun

Bloom time:

Early summer to fall

Color:

Orange petals with light rose band

Strong, well-branched, heavily budded scapes hold fragrant orange flowers. A rebloomer that flowers in midsummer and again later in the season.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Rainbow Rhythm® ‘Ruby Spider’Buy now from Proven Winners

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

34 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Part sun to sun

Bloom time:

Early summer

Color:

Ruby red petals with golden throat

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. Place this taller daylily at the back of a border or bed.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Rainbow Rhythm® ‘Going Bananas’Buy now from Proven Winners

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

19-22 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Part sun to sun

Bloom time:

Early summer to fall

Color:

Lemony yellow flowers

A stellar rebloomer that continues through the heat of summer and into fall. The ruffled flowers are lightly fragrant and grow above a relatively more compact mound of foliage.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Rainbow Rhythm® ‘Primal Scream’Buy now from Proven Winners

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

34 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Part sun to sun

Bloom time:

Mid-summer

Color:

Bright tangerine orange flowers

A distinctive selection! Bright orange blooms with twisted, ruffled petals truly make a statement in borders and beds. A taller daylily that does best in the middle or back of the bed.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Rainbow Rhythm® ‘Sound of My Heart’Buy now from Proven Winners

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

28 inches tall, 18 to 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Part sun to sun

Bloom time:

Early summer to early fall

Color:

Pastel pink with purple eye & edge

Perfect for a summer garden, this reblooming daylily is tough and will grow in almost any soil. Flowers best in full sun.

Photo by: noxx/ Pixabay.com.

‘Stella de Oro’

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

This reblooming daylily keeps 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: Walters Gardens, Inc.

‘Happy Returns’

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.

‘Pardon Me’

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.

‘Joan Senior’

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.

‘Strawberry Candy’

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.

‘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.

‘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.

‘Little Grapette’

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.

DESIGN TIPS

'Ruby Spider' cut flowers with Lemon Coral® sedum. See how to make this arrangement. Photo by Proven Winners.

  • 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.
  • Plant daylilies with other perennials, annuals, bulbs or shrubs like coneflower, iris, phlox, verbena, yarrow, Shasta daisy, black-eyed Susan, bee balm, or ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum.
  • Use daylilies in cut flower arrangements. Individual flowers will only last a day, but buds along the scape will continue to open.

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.

Last updated: February 6, 2020

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