Planting * Spacing * Fertilizing * Watering * Cutting or Pruning * Digging and Dividing * Mulching * Grooming * Hybridizing * Foliage Types * Seasons * Pests * Diseases * Dip/Tet

Daylilies are very low maintenance and forgiving garden perennials. They grow in almost all soil types, and climates. They can survive an amazing amount of neglect and still grow and bloom for years. But if you want your plants to be the best they can be, we recommend that you give them the best start possible. This care begins when you receive your new plants.

It is recommended that if planting in the spring of the year in the colder climates, you wait until the soil warms to above 50df. If you can comfortably walk barefoot in the garden, it is about right. In the north, you can plant almost anytime during the summer, as we generally do not experience intense heat. If planting in the fall, you want to be at least 6-8 weeks before the ground freezes so that the plant has time for the roots to establish themselves. In the south, they can plant anytime except for summer, when it is too hot.

If you purchase your plants "bare root", the first thing that you should do is to unwrap them from whatever packing material they arrived in, and put them to soak for a few hours to rehydrate the root systems. Do not be overly alarmed if they appear a little limp or even a little yellow upon arrival. Sometimes in transit they do get stressed a bit, but generally they rejuvenate well once rehydrated and planted. When people soak their plants, they can use a variety of solutions. Many use straight water, while some add a weak solution of fungicide, Clorox, or even liquid fertilizer. There are mixed reports of which works the best, it seems to be merely a matter of which appeals to you. If you do add something to the water, it is important that it be a weak solution so don't overdue it. Place the plants in a cool and shady area. Optimally they should be planted within 24 hours.

When you plant the cultivar, the better amended the soil the better your plant will respond in the years to come. There are many ways to prepare the garden site and plant the daylilies. We would recommend that you select a site where there will be 6 hours or more of sunlight. This is the recommended amount of sunlight to get optimal bloom. Daylilies will grow in almost all soil types. Clay soil will benefit from adding compost, peat moss, sand, or other organic materials which will improve its drainage. Sandy soil can be improved by adding compost, peat moss, and other organic materials, which will help it to retain moisture. Daylilies prefer well drained soil. If your intended garden site is not well drained, you might want to consider preparing raised beds which would eliminate that problem. Once you have decided on the site, dig a hole larger than the amount of roots to be planted. The hole should be at least a foot deep. Remove the loosened soil from the hole. Mix your compost or other organic material into the removed soil. Put a shovel full of aged manure or compost in the bottom of the hole and spread it evenly. Put about ½ of your soil mixture into the hole. Make a cone of this soil in the center of the hole. Before planting the daylily, we generally prune it slightly. The foliage we cut back to about 4-6 inches, this decreases the amount of foliage the plant has to support while trying to establish itself. We trim the roots to 6-8 inches to encourage new root growth. Place the daylily on the cone with its roots draping down into the hole. Now fill the hole with the remaining soil, tamping it in around the roots to eliminate air pockets. The crown of the plant (which is just below the white band where the foliage meets the roots), should be ½ to 1 inch below the soil when done. Water the newly planted daylily well. We make a little collar of soil around the outside edge of the hole so that when we water, it will collect within the collared area and soak into the ground rather than running away. It isn't uncommon for many of the outside leaves on the plant to brown and dry up, this frequently happens at the same time that new green growth is being seen emerging from the center of the foliage. A top layer of 2-3 inches of mulch around the plant will help retain moisture and retard weed growth. Do leave 1-2" space free of mulch where the plant emerges from the ground.

If you purchase your plants potted, they can be planted with very little disturbance. They can remain in the pot for an extended time, or be planted immediately. As long as they receive adequate water and fertilizer, they can remain in the pot for months. When you are ready to plant them, just remove them from the pot and if the roots are showing spiral growth just fan them out or cut them (if needed) before putting them into your prepared hole. In this instance you don't need to prepare the cone of soil in the middle of the hole, just put the plant into the hole and fill with the remaining dirt. Any extra soil can just be smoothed out over the surface. Return to Top

If planting the daylilies singly, it is recommended to allow them to be about 24" apart. If you are planting in groups of 2 or 3 to form a clump, allow about 18" between those plants. Smaller varieties can be planted closer together if desired. Daylilies planted closer together will require more frequent division as they will become too crowded sooner than plants given more space initially.

It is recommended to fertilize your daylilies twice a year. Generally it is done in early spring when the daylilies begin their spring growth, and again at the end of the summer. There are many fertilizers that are used, but we normally use 10-10-10 spring and late summer. If you prefer an organic fertilizer there are other options, side dressing or mulching with compost works well.

Daylilies prefer at least 1 inch of rain a week. Although they have fleshy roots, which will sustain them through periods of drought, they will bloom much more profusely and have larger flowers when they receive adequate moisture. We recommend early morning watering versus mid-day or evening watering, which is good gardening practice regardless of which plants you are growing.

Cutting or Pruning:
We recommend trimming both the foliage and the roots prior to planting (see above). We do not recommend trimming at any other time. The foliage is the food factory for the plant, and by cutting back the foliage excessively; you are reducing the plants' ability to make food. It is acceptable to trim back slightly if you have damaged foliage that is unsightly.

Digging & Dividing:
As your Daylilies grow and multiply they make what is referred to as a clump. When the clump becomes over crowded, you may see that the plants blooms are less numerous or the flowers are smaller than in previous years. When this happens, you will want to divide your clump. To do this you will dig up the entire clump. Remove as much of the soil as possible so that you can see how the roots are growing together. We use the garden hose to wash more of the dirt from the roots, which makes it easier to see where the plant will separate the easiest. You will see that not all daylilies have the same root systems. Some daylilies will be very easy to divide; the roots will simply twist or pull apart. Others will require a knife or even a hatchet or shovel to divide. When dividing it is important to be certain that you have both top (foliage) and root for each piece removed from the clump. (Sometimes if all the foliage comes off but there is viable crown on the root, the plant will still survive, but it will take a significantly longer to grow.) You can divide your clump into several small clumps, or even into individual fans. The more you divide it the more small plants you will have, but each smaller plant will take longer to get established and increase. It is recommended that you allow any cut surfaces of the roots to dry prior to replanting. Some people like to put fungicide on the cut surfaces to discourage disease.

Mulching your daylilies helps to maintain the soil temperature, retain moisture, and retard weed growth. In northern regions, mulching can also help protect the plant from extreme winter temperatures. A 2-3" layer of mulch is sufficient to accomplish this. When putting on the mulch, do not apply it right up to the base of the plant. Depending on the area you live in, there are many different mulching materials available.

There may be times when you wish to make your daylilies look their very neatest. In our garden, we generally do not groom unless we are expecting a large group in to view the gardens. By grooming I am referring to the practice of "deadheading", "liveheading", and "trimming". To "deadhead" your plants, you snip off the "spent" or old blooms. To "livehead" you remove the current day's blooms before they are spent.

NOTE: Do not remove blooms if you are intending to allow seeds to develop! Removing the blooms normally removes the future pods! Yes, if you are very careful you can remove the spent bloom without removing the developing ovum, but it generally isn't worth the risk.

Trimming is done in our garden only rarely. We would do this if we had a plant in a prominent garden location whose foliage was unsightly. Perhaps it got hit by the weed whacker or was burned by fertilizer or had particularly bad leaf streak. We could simply cut back or trim off the few effected leaves that were ragged or discolored. Another time when a gardener might wish to cut the foliage a bit is if the blooms are not above the foliage but in it. By trimming back the leaves slightly the blooms become more visible.

Hybridizing is the making of seeds by crossing different cultivars. In nature the bees and other insects or even wind can accomplish this. Many growers, in the quest to develop new types of flowers or to perfect the bloom or the foliage have done the crossing of the plants themselves rather than leaving it to nature. To do this one only has to take the pollen from one plant or bloom and put it onto the pistil of another plant or bloom. The major requirement is that you need to cross-pollinate diploids with another diploid, or a tetraploid with another tetraploid. The pollen is from what is called the pollen parent. The plant receiving the pollen and that develops the seed pod is called the pod parent. After the bloom is pollinated, generally seeds develop in a pod, and then over the summer the pod ripens. The pod is harvested once it is ripe and the seeds are gathered and later planted. These seeds will become new plants, which have traits from both its pollen and pod parents. If when these new plants grow and bloom they show improvement over the parent plants and other plants in commerce, the hybridizer may decide to introduce and register the plant. If the plant has no redeeming qualities, it is frequently composted.

Foliage Types:
There are 3 types of foliage habit in daylilies, Dormant (Dor), Evergreen (Ev), and Semi-Evergreen (Sev). This refers to the behavior of the daylily foliage or leaves in the winter. Dormant daylilies' leaves die back completely. In the spring they have a distinctive spear-like appearance to the new growth. Evergreen daylilies do not die back. They retain their leaves throughout the year and continue to grow new leaves all year long. In the north they die back due to the cold, but when growth begins in the spring it is gradual, and does not have the spear-like growth of the dormant plant. Semi-evergreen daylilies display a mixture of the dormant and evergreen foliage traits. Whether a plant is dormant, evergreen, or semi-evergreen doesn't necessarily refer to its' hardiness. This is a topic widely discussed, and opinions on this vary widely. When considering hardiness, it is most helpful to see what other gardeners in your area are growing. Some growers are beginning to include zone hardiness for individual cultivars, but even this is just a guideline.

Modern daylilies can be seen blooming from early spring to late fall. This has been accomplished by breeding the plants with different or extended bloom seasons. They are classified as early early, early, midseason, late, or very late. Another way the plants can bloom longer is that some of them are re-bloomers. This means that they bloom for a period of time, then after a rest period they begin to bloom again. This is much more prevalent in the warmer climates, but even in the cooler northern gardens there can be significant re-bloom under the right conditions.

Daylilies are relatively pest free. Pests that may infect daylilies include thrips, aphids, spider mites, snails, and slugs. Larger "pests" which enjoy the daylilies are deer, and other grazing animals. There are products available to use to deter the above mentioned pests if you have a problem. Be sure that whatever you use is safe for daylilies. Your local garden representatives such as your extension service or farm store can recommend the right product for you.

Although relatively disease free, even daylilies may under certain circumstances become infected by disease. There are three that may harm your daylilies. Only one has ever been seen in our garden, it is called leaf streak. Although it can cause yellowing or browning of the foliage which may seem unsightly; it doesn't appear to cause any lasting harm to the plant. Daylily rust and rot are 2 other diseases that have been found to effect daylilies. Both seem to be more of a factor in warmer climates than we have in our northern Vermont garden. Rust is caused by a fungus that is contagious and can spread from plant to plant and from garden to garden. An infected plant will have orange pustules appear on the foliage. Although initially there was fear that this fungus would destroy the plants, it seems to be more of an appearance issue. The appearance of the pustules makes the foliage unsightly, and since most of us grow gardens for the beauty they present, the appearance of a disease that mars that beauty is not welcome. There is research being done that shows that some plants may be more resistant, but as far as we know, none seem to be immune to it. Some southern hybridizers are beginning to breed for rust resistance, so in the future there may be plants available which will be immune to the disease. In the mean time, an important discovery for us Northerners is that the rust fungus doesn't appear to be able to over winter in the colder climates where the plants die back. This doesn't help the southern growers where their daylilies continue to grow year round, but it does give hope to northern growers. Research has found that there are certain chemicals that can be used in preventative spray programs to control the appearance and spread of rust in the southern gardens. So although rust hasn't turned out to be the end of daylilies, it has made growing them more complicated and expensive for many large growers. The last disease I mentioned was "rot". When a plant has rot, it quickly turns mushy and smelly. If not discovered quickly the entire plant can just disappear. Again this is more of a southern problem and appears to be due to the high heat and humidity they experience. To avoid this, southern gardeners don't plant during the hot and humid summer season. Drying the plant prior to replanting and the use of fungicides on any cut surfaces has been beneficial in discouraging rot. Our recommendation is to observe your new plants after you transplant them. Check them daily, especially if you are in an area, which is known to be prone to rot. If you see any mushy tissue, immediately scrape it off and treat the open "sore" with a fungicide.

There are 2 major categories, divisions or "ploidy" of daylilies. Diploid and Tetraploid make up the majority of daylily plants.

Unless you are going to hybridize, the "ploidy" or number of chromosomes a plant has doesn't matter.

Daylilies are diploid if they have 22 sets of chromosomes. Species plants are diploid, and they naturally reproduce from seed. Tetraploid daylilies have 44 sets of chromosomes. This doubling of the chromosomes was initially accomplished by chemically treating the diploid daylilies with a substance called Colchicine. Although a treated plant, which has become tetraploid, may later revert back to being diploid, generally the offspring of two tetraploid plants will forever remain a tetraploid. Tetraploid daylilies are frequently said to have heavier substance, larger flowers, and to be sturdier or stronger than diploids. This isn't always the case, and frequently it isn't possible to know whether a modern day plant is diploid or tetraploid by looking at it. The use of a microscope to measure the size of the pollen granules may be the only way to easily differentiate them. Lastly, there is also a very small category of daylily plants that are called Triploid, these have 33 sets of chromosomes but they are generally considered to be sterile.

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