Daylilies, beauties of the garden

If you’re looking for summer–flowering plants to add a big boost of color to your garden without requiring a lot of maintenance, take a look at daylilies.

The daylily (Hemerocallis) gets its name from the fact that each bloom lasts for just one day. Each flower stalk will produce many blooms, however, and each clump many stalks. A combination of cultivars can create a daylily garden with continuous blooms from early summer to fall. And although many people think of daylilies only as the yellow-orange flower typically seen along the roadside, today there are literally thousands of cultivars available with flower tints ranging from lemon yellow to bright gold and from dusty pink to dark purple.

Some call the daylily “the perfect perennial” because it offers:

  • A rainbow of colors (just picture the cultivars named “Strawberry Candy,” “Orange Velvet,” “Moonlit Masquerade,” “Little Grapette,” and “Smoky Mountain Autumn”)
  • Plants ranging in size from less than a foot to over 6 feet tall
  • The ability to survive with very little care in a wide range of climate
  • Adaptability to landscape situations ranging from well–manicured borders to roadside plantings
  • Resistance to drought, disease, and insects
  • Adaptability to various soil and light conditions

Spring is the preferred planting time for daylilies in the North, although planting in early fall (at least a month before a hard frost is expected) is also suitable. In the South, early spring and late fall are the best times. Gardeners in warm climates should especially avoid planting daylilies in midsummer when heat and humidity are at their worst. Although they can survive in sandy soil or heavy clay, daylilies will flourish if planted in soil amended with some good organic matter. Watering and feeding regularly with all-purpose plant food will help daylilies produce the best blooms possible.

Especially since there are so many variations available, we suggest taking some time to plan your daylily plantings. Visit local garden centers and public gardens to see daylilies that grow especially well in your area. The AHS Web site provides a wealth of information about daylilies, including directories of display gardens and plant sources.