GENERAL DAYLILY INFORMATION
* Spacing * Fertilizing
* Watering * Cutting
or Pruning * Digging
and Dividing * Mulching *
Grooming * Hybridizing
* Foliage Types * Seasons
* Pests * Diseases
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.
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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.
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
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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