Daylilies are probably one of the most dependable and easiest to grow of all the Summer flowers. The Daylily is also called the Hemerocallis. It is called the daylily, because its flowers only bloom for one day. The nice thing about it, is that there are many flower buds on its scape (stem), so you have flowers for a long period of time.
Daylilies come in a wide range of colors, from white to almost black, and many tones of yellow, orange, red, and pink. The only color they don’t come in, so far, is a true blue. As for height, they can be kind of short stemmed like the Stella de Oro, or have an almost 5 foot scape / stem like the wild orange variety that grows along the road.
Daylilies come solid, multi-colored, and can be single or double petaled. They also can bloom early, in the middle, and late in the gardening season. Some are even repeat bloomers.
Buying and Planting Daylilies …Daylilies can be purchased at places like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, K-Mart etc, as well as Garden Centers, and through Mail Order Catalogs. When buying plants from garden centers, and the big hardware and discount stores, they will most likely come potted up in soil, in a one gallon pot. Buy the one with the most greenery (fans) as possible. If you purchase one that already produced multiple fans, it is an older plant, and at that moment, you could divide it, if you wanted. Each of the fans is really one individual plant.
Years ago I purchased a number of Daylily Collections from different mail order companies. Collections are one or more of a grouping of plants. One of the collections was an assortment of pink colored daylilies from the White Flower Farm, in Litchfield, Ct.
Sometimes you will be surprised how SMALL, but Healthy, the plants that you purchase from a mail order company can be. Years ago I ordered 27 daylilies (maybe 4 collections), from a certain well-known company, that shall remain nameless. When the plants arrived, they were all sent bare root (not in any kind of soil), and tagged for what variety they were. They all looked healthy, but each of the 27 plants were the size of my baby finger. The 27 plants arrived in a box the size of a shoe box.
Planting Daylilies …Plant daylilies in full sun (6 plus hours of direct sun a day) to partial shade (4 hours of sun a day), in an area of average to fertile, well-drained soil.
Most daylily planting tags say space the plants about 18 inches apart. I think this is too close. If you plant them that way, you will have to divide them after, maybe 4 or 5 years. I think daylilies should be planted at least 24 inches apart. Mark off a 24 inch square of garden for each plant, and place your daylily in the exact center of the 24 inch square. Your plant will have 12 inches of space all around to expand. If you want to never have to move your daylily plants, plant the 36 inches apart. I planted mine 30 inches apart, and have not had to divide them in almost 20 years. They still produce flowers well, with just a Spring feeding of an all-purpose granular fertilizer, like Plant Tone.
Remember the 27 finger sized daylilies I bought mail order? They all lived, and are doing fine, but for the first 3 years, after planting, I planted tomatoes around them, until they started looking like something.
When making a daylily bed, or planting some daylilies in your garden, start them off on the right foot. Mix some Sphagnum Peat Moss and dehydrated Cow Manure into the soil to amend (improve) it. Your daylilies will have a fertile environment, in which to thrive for years.
Dividing Daylilies …Daylilies can be divided anytime of the year, except when blooming. You could divide them when blooming, but you would probably destruct / damage the flower, which is what you planted it for. I think the best time to divide daylilies, in my area of Upstate New York (zone 5-4), is anytime after August 15. At that time a good amount of the Summer plants have finished blooming, and Fall is on its way. When you dig up and divide the daylily, you will be damaging its foliage, but so what. All that is important, after the plant is divided and replanted, is that it gets a good drink, and has the weeks of September and October to reestablish itself, and get ready for Winter dormancy.
When dividing a daylily, take a straight spade, and try to cut it right down the center. Position your spade so its blade is between the daylily fans (green grassy leaves), so you don’t knock off to many fans. After cutting it in half, if it is a big plant, cut it in half again, the other way. (See the two dividing illustration). If you need to, cut your now 4 pieces in half again. Next take a Round Point Digging Shovel, and dig / pry each section out, one at a time. Don’t worry about slicing off root parts. The daylily is resilient, and will recover nicely, no matter how hard you divide it. If you find you have loose pieces of daylily root falling off, plant them. Put them under the ground, about an inch or so, on their side (horizontally). Even the smallest piece will come back to life.
When replanting your divided daylily, dig a hole and just pop it into the ground. Try to cover the root system with an inch or two of soil. If you can’t plant your daylilies for a few days, or even a week, or more, after dividing, just put them in a shady spot, and sprinkle some water on them to keep them moist. Even if you neglect your unplanted daylily tuber /root, no problem. It will just sit there in kind of dormant state. I don’t think you can kill a daylily!
Daylily Maintenance … Daylilies are a low maintenance plant. Other than giving them a good watering, here and there (hopefully once a week), and possibly a Spring application of an All Purpose fertilizer, the only other maintenance issues are (1).. Daily (if you wish), taking off spent (wilted) flowers, this is called Breaking Bloom, and (2) after the plant has completely finished blooming, clipping off the daylily scape (stem) that held the flowers.
In the Fall, at the end of the gardening season cut / pull off the now yellowing daylily foliage. I have large daylily beds, which I slowly cut through with the lawn mower.
And finally, the daffodil is a good companion plant to a daylily. Space daffodil bulbs 12 to 14 inches apart throughout your daylily planting. They will bloom early in Spring, and their foliage will blend in, and be covered by the daylily foliage as the gardening season progresses.
I hope this post was helpful to you, and that you now know the basics of daylily planting, All I can say to you is… Go out and buy a few for your garden! Happy Planting.
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