Whenever a beginning flower gardener asks me what to plant, my answer is always same -- daylilies. Without a doubt, daylilies rank high among easiest, most adaptable plants for flower garden. Daylilies will stand up to all but most severe abuse and neglect, repeating their colorful show year after year.
Growing Habit: Like their name Hemerocallis ("beauty for a day") indicates, individual daylily flower lasts only one day. A single plant may produce over 50 flowers, however, extending blooming period of a plant for several weeks.
Daylilies produce a wide array of blooms. Some varieties provide single trumpet-shaped flowers. Others are double, ruffled, fringed or spiderlily-like. Bloom sizes among varieties range from 2 - 8 inches. Gardeners especially value daylilies for their wide range of colors, as there are varieties available in every color except blue. Some daylily blooms are a single color, but many are multi-colored.
Most daylilies have arching foliage that grows 18 to 24 inches tall. Some varieties have erect foliage, however. Some grow as low as 12 inches and others reach 3 feet. Leaf color ranges from pale green to dark green with a bluish cast.
Daylilies are perennial plants, with deciduous, semi-evergreen and evergreen varieties available.
Location: You can find daylily varieties for all U.S. zones, however, daylilies thrive in zones 4 - 9.
Although they are adaptable to most soils, daylilies do best in slightly acidic, moist soil that is high in organic matter and well drained. Excessively rich soils may result in increased foliage growth and decreased blooming.
Daylilies prefer full sun, but will tolerate light shade. In hotter regions, some light afternoon shade will protect blooms of some daylily varieties from fading.
Although daylilies are drought-tolerant once established, consistent watering while they are budding and flowering will produce better-quality flowers. During hot weather, they should be watered at least weekly with 1/2 to 1 inch of water to encourage best and longest-lasting show.
Propagation and Planting: When planting daylilies, whether divisions or newly-purchased plants, you should dig a hole slightly larger than roots to be sure roots are allowed to spread out. Make a small cone of soil in center of hole and place plant on top, fanning roots outward and downward. Carefully work soil in around roots. The crown should be set not more than an inch or so below soil surface. Tall cultivars should be spaced 24 to 30 inches apart with smaller types 18 to 24 inches apart.
Daylilies are very easily propagated by division of old clumps. You should divide clumps when they become overcrowded, usually every 4 to 6 years. For very vigorous cultivars, you may need to divide them more often. The best time for dividing old clumps and resetting divisions or new plants is from late summer to late autumn. You may also plant them in very early spring, however this may result in decreased blooming first season.