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Tips For Growing Daylilies (Every Flower Garden Needs Them)

To say I love daylilies is an understatement. Okay, I think I’ve said that before, so maybe it’s true about flowers in general. Anyway, daylilies are one of the easiest, low maintenance perennials to grow. They are tough plants and can be ignored and they’ll be fine, but you’ll be rewarded with outstanding blooms and the best results, if you give them lots of love, including good growing conditions. I have a bunch of daylily goodies to share with you, so let’s get started with some great Tips for Growing Daylilies. 

A Little Education About Daylilies (Botanical Name = Hemerocallis)

We are NOT talking about hemerocallis vulva (a/k/a orange ditch lilies) here. Sometimes when gardeners hear “daylilies” they immediately tune out, because they are thinking all daylilies are invasive and ugly like the common orange ditch lily.  Sorry, if you have ditch lilies and love them, I don’t mean to offend you. From a daylily collector’s perspective, I’m here to tell you all daylilies are NOT the same. There are so many wonderful varieties of daylilies with beautiful flowers that it’s easy to get addicted. Ask me how I know.

Daylilies are NOT grown from bulbs and are not related to true lilies (lilium) that are grown from bulbs. The roots of a daylily plant are fibrous, clumping, fleshy masses that store water.

Each individual flower on a daylily plant blooms for just a day, thus the name daylily.

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Daylily - Siloam June Bug
Siloam June Bug

Reblooming Daylilies

I have quite a collection of daylilies (over 90 different varieties) and my favorites are the rebloomers. A reblooming daylily will start with it’s first big wave of blooms. When those blooms are finished, it will take a rest and send up more blooms a few weeks later. In my Zone 4b gardens, I don’t always get rebloom, but I find that lots of rebloomers are constant bloomers.

Any of the “returns” series fall into that constant bloomer category. Happy Returns is probably the most popular in this category. There’s also Rosy Returns, Red Hot Returns, Fragrant Returns, When My Sweetheart Returns, Passionate Returns, Stephanie Returns, etc., etc. This sweet little Passionate Returns is one of my favorites this year. Stella d’ Oro daylily is a very popular reblooming daylily as well.

Daylily - Passionate Returns
Passionate Returns

Tips for Growing Daylilies – Where to Plant

Although daylilies can grow in poor soil, they grow best in fertile, well-drained soil. Also, daylilies do best in full sun (6 or more hours of sun), but will also be okay in partial sun or partial shade (4-6 hours of sun). Remember daylilies (and most other perennials) can be moved to a different location in your gardens if they aren’t doing well in the area you have them planted.

Daylily - Itza Pink Teddy
Itza Pink Teddy Daylily

Tips for Growing Daylilies – How to Divide and Plant Daylilies

Daylilies will grow for many years just fine without being divided. After about 4 or 5 years when the plants are getting quite large, you may want to consider dividing your daylily. Sometimes if the plants get to overgrown, they will bloom less.

The best time to divide daylilies is in early spring when they are first emerging from the ground, or in late summer / early fall after their bloom cycle is complete.  The best way to divide daylilies is to dig up the entire clump. I love this garden fork for digging up daylilies. I have less damage to the clumps when I use it over a shovel. Then cut through the crown of the plant with a sharp knife, or pull the clump apart into manageable pieces. Before replanting, cut the foliage back to a height of 5 or 6″.  And, now you have new plants to share or replant in your gardens. If you need additional help dividing and transplanting your daylilies, check out Tips for Transplanting Perennials.

A bareroot daylily being planted in soil

Tips for Growing Daylilies – How to Plant

Whether you are planting or replanting a division of a daylily the directions are the same. 

  • Dig a hole a little deeper that the root mass of the daylily.
  • Next mound up soil in the middle of the hole.
  • Spread the daylily roots over the mound (see the image above) and fill in the hole surrounding the roots with the soil you dug out. It’s a good idea to add in organic matter like compost at this point. You can add slow release fertilizer too if you so desire.
  • The crown of the plant needs to be just below the surface of the soil or ground level and not buried too deeply.
  • Water your transplant well, so it starts developing a strong root system. For the first year, give your new daylily special care and it will reward you with many beautiful flowers in the years to come.
  • You should begin to see new growth within a week or so.

Tips for Growing Daylilies – Care & Maintenance

Watering & Mulching for Daylilies

During their first growing season, daylilies should be watered during dry weather; and for several weeks after they are planted. This will help them get established more quickly. Rather than watering every day, water twice a week if it doesn’t rain, but water deeply, making sure the water soaks down into the root zone. Mulching around daylilies will help keep the soil moist and help to control weeds.

Daylily Care – Deadheading

Each daylily flower lasts just one day. To keep the plants looking their best, snap off the spent flowers, but be careful not to disturb nearby flower buds. The easiest way to deadhead is by using garden shears or bypass pruners.

Below, in the before and after picture of a Fairy Tale Pink Daylily, you can see the difference between seed pods and new buds. Unless you have the patience to start daylilies from seed, you will also want to clip any seed pods. By clipping the spent flowers and the seed pods, the daylily will put it’s energy into making new flowers and not put it’s energy into seed production. If all the buds have bloomed, the flower stalks can be cut down to the base of the plant.

Image of a daylily before and after cleanup

As you are deadheading, go ahead and remove any dead foliage or discolored leaves. Just a side note here about the foliage of daylilies. Some daylily varieties are more prone to yellowing or browning foliage that others. I’ve noticed in my gardens that if we have an exceptionally hot and dry summer, some of my daylilies foliage looks awful and some are fine. I haven’t been able to find an explanation of this other than there’s nothing wrong with your daylily, it’s just the nature of some varieties. If you have a daylily with dying foliage, just clip the foliage as much as you need to. It will not hurt the plant.

Fertilizing Daylilies

It isn’t necessary to fertilize daylilies and I didn’t fertilize at my last home because the soil was awesome. At my current home, I fertilize my daylilies in the spring with a slow release fertilizer. I simply sprinkle Osmocote around the base of the plant and work it into the soil a bit, before applying a fresh layer of mulch. Adding this fertilizer has made a huge difference in my daylilies and the number of blooms on each plant. 

There are many daylily groups on Facebook and I’ve seen the daylily pros recommend using Milorganite around their daylilies. I will definitely be trying that this year.

Daylily - Warrior's Spear
Warrior’s Spear Daylily

How to Extend the Blooming Season, or Get Your Daylilies to Bloom Longer

As a recap of the above information, to get the most blooms from your daylilies, or to get your daylilies to bloom longer:

  • Be sure your daylily plants get enough water. If you haven’t had enough rain, water your daylilies.
  • Fertilize your daylilies with a slow release fertilizer in the spring.
  • Deadhead your daylilies.
  • Look for reblooming varieties of daylilies.
  • Plant a variety of daylilies that are early bloomers, mid-season bloomers and late season bloomers. Buying a variety of plants with different bloom times will ensure that you have daylilies blooming late spring through late summer.
Daylily - Tropical Heatwave
Tropical Heatwave Daylily

What if my Daylilies Don’t Bloom

This is another question I see – How Do I Make my Daylilies Bloom? Let’s do a little troubleshooting. Go through this list and see if you can pinpoint the problem and then take steps to remedy it.

  • Is your daylily getting enough sun? Daylilies love sun! Do you need to relocate your daylily to a sunnier spot in your garden?
  • Is your daylily getting too large? Generally daylilies don’t have to be divided for about 4-5 years, but if they get too big, their blooms will diminish. Go back up and read the section on dividing your daylily.
  • What is your soil like? Daylilies aren’t too picky, but they do like to be fertilized. If your daylily isn’t crowded and is getting plenty of sun, give it a boost of fertilizer.

Daylily Care After Blooming

I hear this question all the time – what should I do with my daylilies after they have finished blooming? First of all, be sure all the spent blooms and seed pods have been removed from the plant (see deadheading above). Once the scapes (the long, hard stems) no long have any new buds left, they can be cut back to the base of the plant to keep the plants looking tidy. Like we said above, many daylily varieties are reblooming varieties and after taking a little break, the plants will rebloom. You have your best chance of rebloom if the daylily plant is well cared for. At this point, you can give the daylilies another scoop of Osmocote, or Milorganite.

Tips for Growing Daylilies – Buying Online

I’ll buy daylilies from any garden center or any place they catch my eye, but my favorite place to purchase daylilies is online. If you really want to add some different varieties to your collection, shop online. Some of my favorite online daylily sellers are Oakes Daylilies and Smokey’s Gardens. I’ve had awesome results and received great customer service from both companies. If you have a favorite online daylily source, please leave a comment below and let us know.

Bareroot daylilies from Oakes Daylilies
Bareroot daylilies from Oakes

A few things to remember when ordering online. Daylilies are usually sold by fans and they are shipped as bare root daylilies with only 3 or 4 inches of leaves and stem. They come with planting and growing instructions, and I would recommend following those instructions.

Daylily - Strawberry Candy
Strawberry Candy Daylily

Daylily Collections

Are you a collector of daylilies like me? In order to keep track of all the daylilies I have, I created a Plant Inventory sheet that I keep in my Garden Journal. If you’re interested in getting a copy, I’ve included it in my library of Free Gardening Printables.

This photo of Inherited Wealth was taken in the evening just as the sun was shining it’s last few rays.

Daylily - Inherited Wealth
Inherited Wealth Daylily

Lavender Rainbow is really thriving this year. It’s one of the many daylilies I moved from my former home.

Daylily - Lavender Rainbow

Here’s a Pin to save to one of your Gardening Boards on Pinterest for future reference.
There are additional Pins at the bottom of the post. Thanks for pinning!

Daylilies

Heavenly Angel Ice is a new addition this year and my first ever spider daylily.

Daylily - Heavenly Angel Ice
Heavenly Angel Ice Daylily
Daylily - Custard Candy
Custard Candy Daylily

Like most other perennials, it takes daylilies a year or two to get established and take off, but once they do, they’ll bloom reliably for many years and just keep getting bigger and better with each passing year. That’s it for the Tips for Growing Daylilies, but I do have some more pretties I’d like to share with you.

Growing Daylilies in Pots

Do you grow daylilies in planters? Every summer I go overboard purchasing new daylilies that I don’t already have even before I know where I will put them in the ground. The best thing to do when this happens is to plant your daylilies in containers. For something completely differently, it’s also fun to plant daylilies in pots with other annual flowers.

If you live in a colder gardening zone and you have daylilies in containers, be sure to bury the container; or, remove the plant from the container and plant it in the ground before winter sets in.

Daylily Eye Candy (a/k/a Daylily Photo Gallery)

In the daylily images below, the name of the daylily is in the caption below the picture.

Indian Giver Daylily
Indian Giver Daylily

 

Daylilies - Beautiful Edgings
Beautiful Edgings Daylily

Pure and Simple is one of the first daylilies to bloom in my gardens.

Daylily - Pure & Simple

One of my favorites, because my sister sent it to me, Wild Horses.

Wild Horses Daylily
Wild Horses Daylily

This daylily, First Lady Barbara, was a freebie from Oakes. I’ll take free!

Daylily - First Lady Barbara
First Lady Barbara Daylily
Jeune Tom Daylily
Jeune Tom Daylily
Siloam French Doll Daylily
Siloam French Doll Daylily
Siloam Double Classic Daylily
Siloam Double Classic Daylily
Ruby Spider Daylily in Tips for Growing Daylilies
Ruby Spider Daylily
Pewter Pink Daylily
Pewter Pink Daylily
Monterey Jack Daylily
Monterey Jack Daylily
Gaudy Gaudy Daylily
Gaudy Gaudy Daylily
Entrapment Daylily in Tips for Growing Daylilies
Entrapment Daylily
Elizabeth Salter Daylily
Elizabeth Salter Daylily

Daylily Fall Care

Again, daylilies are not too picky. If you have the time and desire, you can cut daylilies to the ground in the fall. In colder zones, it’s okay to go ahead and mulch them. If you don’t have time in the fall, you can do nothing. Daylilies are very hardy and survive the worst of winters here in my zone 4 gardens. Fall is also a great time to divide and transplant daylilies.

More garden inspiration, here are some other posts you’ll enjoy:

Classic Perennials (That Every Flower Garden Needs)
Small Shade Garden Transformation
Garden Decor (Lots of Creative Ideas for Your Garden)

Are Deer Chomping off your Daylily buds?
Dealing with Garden Pests

Having problems in your gardens, here are a few posts that will help:

Flower Garden Maintenance Tips
How to Deal With Weeds In Your Garden

Thanks a bunch for stopping by Gingham Gardens today. I hope you’ve enjoyed Tips for Growing Daylilies, along with some beautiful Daylily Eye Candy. The pictures I’m sharing with you today are a mere fraction of the daylilies in my gardens, so I’m sure I’ll be sharing more in the future.

The American Hemerocallis Society has a wealth of information on their website, if you’d like to learn more about daylilies, pay a visit when you’ve finished up here.

Do you have daylilies in your gardens? What are your favorites? Please leave a comment and let me know, or feel free to email a picture. 

Happy gardening,

Julie

p.s. Follow Gingham Gardens on Pinterest for lots of great gardening ideas and tons of gardener’s eye candy.

p.p.s. You can pin these pictures by hovering in the upper left-hand corner. Pin away! There’s a big pin at the bottom of the page too. Thanks a bunch!

Pins to Save to Pinterest:

Image of Daylily flowers with text overlay - Tips for Growing Daylilies

Image of Daylilies - with text overlay Tips for Growing Daylilies

51 Comments

  1. Love your daylily pictures. Also, check out Sterrett Gardens–I order from them at least once a year. Plants are always healthy and come back again and again.

  2. My day lily garden is quite sparse at it’s early stage. Do you have any suggestions for something green/ flowers to fill in the empty spaces until day lilies fill in?

    1. Hello Julie – thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens. I think it’s a good idea to add other perennial or annual flowers to your daylily gardens for season long color. Some perennials that compliment daylilies well include – shasta daisies, salvia (either annual or perennial), coneflowers, balloon flowers and many others. Check out Classic Perennials for more ideas. Happy gardening, Joanna

  3. Thank you for your website! I just bought 47 Stella D’Oro no daylilies and planted the root balls about three or four weeks ago. They are doing very well and several of them are already producing beautiful yellow flowers. However, I started noticing all of these green shoots coming out all around where I’ve planted them. I thought they were weeds at first, and had been trying to pull them up. My mom and I decided possibly because the shoots look like the daylily leaves maybe those are daylily leaves and not weeds. I am not a gardener, and this is the first time I’ve ever even planted any flowers. The root balls each had all of these hairs on them, I thought that maybe when we spread the root balls out, maybe those little hairs are causing those green leaves to start sprouting out everywhere. Should I keep pulling those leaves out. Or if I leave them alone, will they turn into daylily plants as well? I hope you understand my question, it’s kind of hard to convey what I am seeing.

    1. Hi Julie, it’s really hard to tell what the green shoots you are referring to are exactly. They could be daylily shoots, or they could be weeds. If you got the daylilies from someone else’s garden, it could very likely be weeds. Quack grass can resemble daylily shoots, but will eventually grow much taller that the daylilies. If you would like to send me a picture, you can email me at [email protected]. Happy gardening, Joanna

  4. Check out Homestead Farms, they have great prices on their daylilies. The plants were large . The 58 i received are off and running nicely.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens. I took a peek at Homestead Farms and it looks like a great place with lots of daylilies to choose from. Happy gardening, Joanna

    1. Hi Carol, it could be excessive moisture or some type of insect. Unless you’re seeing the damage a lot, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If you’re seeing lots of buds like this, I would suggest contacting your local extension office or a reputable nursery and taking a sample in to be checked. Thanks for stopping by and happy gardening! Joanna

  5. I have been trying to print your inventory sheet for day lilies but can not get it to open for printing- I love the pictures of your day lilies and want to try some of the return variety

  6. Hi Joanna: Enjoying your gardens and tips so much. I have the golden yellow stella d oros but right now there is blooming all over a similar size plant but the lilies are a lighter butter yellow color and the blossoms seems more profuse and longer lasting on each plant. Any idea what the name of these are? Thanks much.

    1. Hi Lynn, thanks so much! There are thousands of daylily varieties, but I will guess the one you’re referring to is Happy Returns. Look it up and see what you think. I actually prefer Happy Returns over Stella. Thanks for stopping by! Happy gardening

      1. What do you do about deer. I wait patiently for mine to bloom and just when I think they will I go out and all the buds have been eaten. Very frustrating !

        1. Hi Ursula – I feel your pain. One year I didn’t have any daylily blooms on about 10 daylilies because deer chomped the buds off. There are several things you can do, and instead of typing them all out here, I’m going to refer you to this post and you’ll learn how I kept deer from eating my daylilies and other plants. Good luck and happy gardening! Joanna
          https://ginghamgardens.com/dealing-with-garden-pests/

  7. Thank you for the wonderful post! I also love daylilies and have become familiar with Oakes Daylilies from your previous posts–thank you! We have a brand new house and we landscaped the backyard this summer and I ordered a BUNCH of daylilies from Oakes–it was like Christmas when they came!! They’re tiny, but most of them have bloomed already! They’re my favorite!
    I enjoy reading all your posts and seeing your pictures!

    1. Hi Lisa – thanks for stopping by! By year 3 your daylilies will look amazing. This is my third year for a lot of mine and lots of them have tons and tons of buds. Enjoy those daylilies and happy gardening!

    1. Hello Lee, I’m so very happy you found me too. I’ve enjoyed your gardens for some time now. Come back soon! Happy gardening

  8. Joanna, once again I am in Daylily heaven. Thanks for all the tips and info. I appreciate you linking to Gardens Galore! Happy Tuesday!

  9. I don’t grow lilies, but I do use a lot of mulching in my containers to keep the soil moist during hot summer days. I use trimmings from my own garden plants so they can be incorporated into the soil when fall comes and the plants die back. – Margy

    1. Hi Margy – thanks for stopping by. You’ve given me some good ideas, especially mulching containers. Happy gardening!

  10. Joanna: What a treat this post was to enjoy. You collect daylilies like I collect peonies. I, too, love daylilies but my space is limited. However, there are 3 of yours that really made my heart sing. The first is – Itza Pink Teddy, second – Inherited Wealth, and third – Beautiful Edgings. They are all stunning but these 3 are over the top gorgeous. You also gave some really good tips for their care.

    I enjoyed my visit, I will return!

    1. Sandra, thanks for stopping by. My space is limited too and I have to resist the urge to dig up more lawn. Happy gardening!

  11. Hi Joana, I also love Daylilies & all the deadheading that goes along with them! I have a couple plants that had large beautiful flowers. Now they have gone to small flowers. Does that mean they have lost their hybred? Does that mean it should be divided & if so will they go back to large flowers again or are they done for?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Donna – thanks for stopping by. I don’t have an answer for you, so I’m going to speculate… I also had a few daylily plants where the flowers seemed smaller this year. I’m blaming mine on the terrible winter/spring we had. I don’t think it means they’ve lost their hybrid. If the plants are rather large, or crowded, they may need to be divided. Something else to consider is your soil. Perhaps add some compost in around your plants. I would also recommend fertilizing your daylilies next spring with some slow release fertilizer like Osmocote. Best of luck and happy gardening!

      1. Thanks for the quick response & advice. Another thing that is really weird about this clump of Daylilies is that one stem is the large original flower & the many other stems are small.

  12. Like you, I totally love daylilies! I don’t dead head all my lilies. I’ll go out in the morning and choose a few of the best blossoms to pollinate. I’ll make notes on which varieties I pollinated. Sometimes. I’ll even cross pollinate a couple of varieties to create new colors or shapes. Once I do that, I’ll put a mesh bag over the flower (made from tulle fabric) so that none of the natural pollinators can mess up my work. In the fall, I’ll harvest the seed to plant and share.

    1. Kevin – that sounds so cool, but it’s way beyond my abilities. I would love to see some pictures of some of your daylilies. Thanks for stopping by and happy gardening!

  13. Excellent advice! I love daylilies too just wish I had more sunny areas to have more. It’s amazing how many varieties there are. I have a bunch of Stella d’oro daylilies that need to be split up. Those will often give a 2nd bloom especially if I have cut back the first blooms when they finished. I only picked that variety out because I wanted to border my island out front and notice them being used with many large displays. They aren’t as beautifully detailed like some of the varieties you’ve shown though.

    1. Hi Liz – I started with Stella d’oro and those sweet little plants are definitely workhorses in the garden. I had so many at my last house that I vowed I would not have any in my new gardens. I did break down and buy two tiny ones last year. It’s sort of an addicting collection and I just keep buying different varieties. Soon I will run out of space for them. Thanks for stopping by and happy gardening!

  14. Beautiful daylilies! When I moved to Minnesota, my husband’s house here had tons. Still does. I was not a daylilies fan until now. You have some that I may have to add to my list!

    1. Used to grow and sell Daylilies in Virginia. Had about 300 varieties but when we downsized and move to N.C. only brought about 50 cultivars. Have done well here as long as the deer leave them alone. One tip is if you want to cut them for an arrangement, cut some big buds the night before,place in a large case and have a wonderful surprise bouquet in the morning😁

  15. I love, love, love your daylilies! They are beautiful! We bought a house two years ago and what they left me with is a big mess! The yard and her flower beds were a nightmare. It’s taken two growing seasons to figure out what I had to work with. I have a big back yard and have already planned how to landscape it. It was just yesterday that I decided to use daylilies along the fence. I was not aware that daylilies came in so many colors. I’ve seen lots of orange ones they are all over the place here in Iowa. I’m ok with the orange ones but the ones you have are so stunning I have to rethink my plan and do more daylilies all over the place! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and such pretty flowers with us!

    1. Hi Shelly, thanks for stopping by. I’m just going to be brutally honest here and tell you, you’ll be sorry if you plant (or keep) orange daylilies, better known as ditch lilies. They are weeds and they will take over and they are hard to get rid of. We also bought a fixer upper with a 1/2 acre yard that was in dire need of lots and lots of tlc. When you have a few minutes, check out some of my makeover posts. Good luck with your garden projects and happy gardening!

      1. Thanks for the info! After I saw your beautiful daylilies there was no way I was settling for the orange ones! Thanks again! I love your blog!

        1. Oh good, Shelly, sometimes I’m a little to forthcoming with my opinions. Keep up the hard work in your gardens and soon it will pay off. Take lots of pictures along the way. Happy gardening!

  16. Are Daylilies seasonal? I live in Tennessee and it’s really been hot this summer. My leaves are turning yellow and it’s in the middle of July?

    1. Hi Barbara – thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, daylilies are seasonal. They are perennials, which means they come back every year, but they only bloom in the summer. Different varieties bloom at different times. It’s normal to have some of the leaves of a daylily plant turn yellow. Make sure they get watered in dry spells. I would also recommend using some fertilizer in the spring. One of my favorite daylily farms is in Corryton, Tennessee. Every year at the end of June, they have a daylily festival. Some day I would love to go. Best of luck and happy gardening!

  17. Your daylilies are beautiful. How do you remember all the names. You must stay busy just pulling off the spent blooms everyday. I live south of the twin cities, so the same zone as you. My daylilies are in much need of dividing. Would that be the reason the under leaves are turning brown. Also, what do you do with all the lilles you divide. Do you just keep finding room in your gardens or do you sell them. Living in the country I have a grassy/weedy hill I throw plants in and I have quite a few different perenials that are blooming back there now.

    1. Hi Julie, thanks for stopping by. Every time I plant a new daylily, I place a plant tag with it and that’s how I know their names. Pretty much every day when I get home from work, I spend some time going through my gardens just deadheading and pulling weeds. I find it’s a great way to relax. Since I’m in a new place I have had to divide any daylilies in a few years. At my previous home, I would have plant sales every spring to sell divisions from my gardens. I’ve found that some daylily foliage will turn yellow and brown. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your plants, it’s just a trait of daylilies. I just pull or cut it off.

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