The daylily is a gift that experienced gardeners give to those who are just starting out. The reason is simple – there are hardly any flowering plants that are easier to grow and maintain. They can survive almost every kind of disease and weather condition, be it drought or deer. At the same time, their vibrant colors can fit anywhere in the garden.
The daylily is not actually a “lily”. Unlike lilies that grow from bulbs, the daylily grows from fleshy roots. There are about 35,000 types of this plant, each with its unique height and color traits. While their flowers only live for a day and a half, they bloom daily!
Growing The Daylily
The most popular variety of the daylily is the yellow species known as Stella D’oro. However, it also comes in a wide range of colors from pink to orange along with a variety of patterns. The plant grows from grass mounds that produce stems. Several dozen flowers bloom from such stems which survive from 24 to 36 hours. The plants keep increasing in size through the entirety of summer.
Here are some brief facts about the popular aesthetic plant:
- Latin name: Hemerocallis spp.
- Other names: Daylily
- Native to: Asia
- Invasiveness: Yes.
- Tenderness: Herbaceous perennial
- Sun: Full Sun.
- Water: Water when dry
- Soil: Deep sandy loamy fertile soil.
- Hardiness zone: Zones 3 through 10
- When to plant: Early Spring/early fall
- Spacing: 18”.
- Plant height: 8” to 5 ft.
- Bloom period: Spring to late summer
- Time to maturity: 2 to 3 years.
- Container friendly: Yes.
- Fertilizer: 10-10-10
- Toxicity: Toxic to cats.
- Deer resistant: No.
- Pest resistant: Yes.
The daylily has been a favorite plant for gardeners for several centuries. The original natural variants of the plant were already drought-resistant, heat-resistant, and could survive flooding as well. Some of the newer hybrid variants of the plant have also given it the power to survive through winters.
Perhaps, the most tempting point of growing the daylily is their low maintenance. It is so low that, in suitable climates, it can grow without any care. However, if it is a part of your garden, then you need to look after it a bit to ensure the colors of the flower are as vibrant and healthy as possible.
In fact, the ease associated with the daylily starts right from the time of its planting. The process of planting usually involves digging a hole to a depth of 1 foot. Then, place the plant and fill the hole up to 2/3rd depth using soil. Then water it. That’s generally it.
The daylily needs regular watering during the first growing season after being planted. However, later on, they only need water if the weather becomes dry. During winter, you can add a light straw mulch layer but take care not to cover the plant’s crown.
The best option for the daylily is the full sun. Ensure at least 6 hours of it every day. However, if your climate is extra warm, then you may give it a bit of shade in the afternoon to keep it healthy.
The daylily can thrive in almost all types of soil. But, at the same time, the plant likes loamy fertile types. The most essential part here will be to ensure the soil remains moist. As such, clay or sandy soil might become too dry.
Although fertilizing is not essential, it will help in unleashing the plant’s full potential. It only needs a simple 10-10-10 fertilizer once during bloom and once in spring.
The most popular daylily – orange daylily is extremely invasive. Once established they are very difficult to get rid of. Moreover, they do not need much care to establish themselves either. Treat the daylily in the same way you would treat perennial weeds – with patience and thoroughness. The plants will always try spreading so it needs a watchful eye.
Growing Daylily flowers in containers
Daylilies, especially the smaller variants, are suited for pots. The two essential points for growing these plants in containers are room for growth and plenty of water. Place the container in a place that receives plenty of sunlight and water it at least once daily. Container-grown specimens require more protection in winter than the ones grown outside, so keep that in mind.
Care & tips
Avoid letting the plants seed, unless you are planning for propagation. Seed production takes away energy from flower production. Keep an eye out for seed capsules and remove them. Also, prune the stem to the surface of the ground.
During the season of growth, remove all leaves that are turning yellow. This will push the plant into producing new leaves.
Apart from this, the daylily really does not need much care even during winter. During the winter season, they usually shed all their foliage following their first frost. You can trim them to only a couple of inches from the ground if they do not do so naturally.
The daylily is a pretty resilient plant when it comes to pests. However, deer find them tasty and attractive, so you should take care accordingly. During early spring, check for spider mites, aphids, and thrips. Use insecticidal soap to clean the plant, if these pests are found.
A scarcity of water can cause the leaves of the daylily to turn yellow. This happens if they are receiving less than 1 inch of water per week. Leaf scorch can make the leaves turn brown. It is a common problem and the solution is to simply put the plant in a slightly more shaded area.
Propagating The Daylily
Daylily propagation involves division. Every 3 to 4 years, you should divide them during fall or the beginning of spring. Make sure to divide by at most 5 years to keep them blooming at their best. Simply use garden forks and divide their roots naturally. Then replant the smaller clumps.
During fall, you can sow seeds directly in the ground. Otherwise, you will have to subject the seeds to moist cold stratification for about a month. Then, place them in a container that is deep. Your seeds should either germinate during the process of stratification or within 2 to 3 weeks after being placed in the soil.
The History Of The Daylily
Experts believe that the Ottoman Empire introduced the flower to Europe, sometime in the 16th century. The varieties popped up only when China opened itself to the Western world following the Second Opium War. The plant has been found in gardens in the US since the 17th century. However, in Japan, China, and other eastern Asian countries, the flowers have been in cultivation for over 4000 years.
Uses for The Daylily
The daylily’s obvious and most common uses involve edging and adding color to a garden. However, the plant also makes for delicious dishes! In ancient times, it was a key component in a medicinal paste.
The daylily is extremely toxic to cats, and can even be fatal for them. However, for dogs and humans, the plant is perfectly safe.
The daylily may not be the first plant a novice gardener should take on. But it will definitely be one of the easiest plants that they will grow during their gardening days. Its versatility, resilience, and beauty make it a common character in almost every garden.