If there was ever a sure thing in the world of perennial blooming plants, it is the daylily. True to their botanical name – Hemerocallis – which means beauty for a day, most daylily flowers open in the morning, then die with nightfall. Each flower stalk, or scape, usually has more than a dozen flower buds; so one plant can literally bloom for weeks.
These winter-hardy plants are great for borders, slopes or mass plantings. They are so adaptable that they will grow in almost any soil and in practically all light conditions. Plant daylilies just about anywhere. If you’ve got a spot or two in your yard where you cannot get anything else to thrive, try planting a few daylilies and watch the area quickly fill up with masses of green foliage. Avoid planting in wet or boggy soil as they may suffer from root rot.
By selecting your plants for bloom time, you can have daylilies blooming throughout most of the summer.
Daylilies are prolific and will grow quickly like a massive ground cover. You can divide them every three years by digging and separating in early spring or when they finish blooming. Cut the foliage back leaving about 5 inches and replant with the crown being one inch or so below the level of the soil. Freshly replanted divisions require some type of mulch, either leaves or straw, to protect them until they have re-established themselves.
Caring for daylilies really couldn’t be easier. Water is essential for good performance. It is most important that daylilies get sufficient water in the spring when blooms are forming on the scapes, and in summer during bloom season. Daylilies are drought tolerant, but the price you’ll pay is a decrease in number and size of bloom. Make sure they receive about an inch of water a week, with a couple of good, deep soaks.
Since daylilies grow just about anywhere, it’s difficult to suggest a fertilizer as they could be growing in a variety of soils. Daylilies are not terribly picky about their fertilizer and for most home gardeners a balanced fertilizer of 10-10-10 works well. Of course, organic is best, in my opinion.
Many growers of daylilies deadhead the faded blooms at the end of each day to give their gardens a tidier appearance. Because of the intense summer heat in our area, the foliage of daylilies can get a little ragged in appearance toward the middle and end of the summer. One practice that has been found useful is to trim the foliage. Some gardeners go at their daylilies with scissors or hand trimmers. Naturally, you would not want to do this on plants that have not yet bloomed or on plants that are still bearing flower scapes. Trim to about 6 inches and promote fresh, new foliage, which will keep the plant looking nice until frost. It’s generally not a good practice to remove dead foliage in winter because to do so is to remove the plant’s natural cold insulation.
Daylilies are not prone to pests. The ones that do bother them generally do only minor damage. Common pests of daylilies are aphids, spider mites, thrips, slugs and snails. There are a number of good, organic remedies for use in repelling these pests. Tomato leaf spray is perhaps the easiest and most effective to make and use.
Daylilies will thrive for you without much maintenance and will do their best when you don’t baby them with too much water or too much food.
These truly can be your “darling buds of May” to show off your garden all summer.