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How to Grow: Daylily
full sun, part sun
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
Early summer to late summer in colors such as orange, yellow, pink, red, purple, cream and bi colors
Mature Height x Spread
1 to 4 feet x 1 to 4 feet
drought tolerant, edible
If you’re looking for a carefree, low maintenance perennial flower to grow, consider the daylily. This plant is hardy and tough and almost always flowers as long as you give it at least one-half day of sun. There are hundreds of varieties available in a rainbow of colors. The best way to buy daylilies is to select the shades you want when they’re blooming since there is such a wide variation in colors. You can also select varieties that bloom from summer to fall to extend the bloom season and ones that are repeat bloomers. They grow in about any condition as evidenced by the clumps of tawny orange daylilies growing along roadsides throughout New England. The flower buds, flowers, and root tubers are also edible.
Where, When and How to Plant
Daylilies are hardy throughout our area. Plant daylilies in spring to early fall. Select divisions of favorite varieties from friends or purchase them in bloom at garden centers. Plant in full or part sun location. Too much shade will prevent blooming. Daylilies are not fussy about soil conditions and are drought tolerant once established. I’ve even seen forgotten, unplanted daylily divisions sitting on the garden’s edge blooming in summer. Space plants 1 to 2 feet apart.
Daylilies require little care. Water newly planted varieties well the first year, add some compost each spring for fertilizing and mulch with bark mulch to maintain soil moisture. Once established, they need little extra watering.
Regional Advice and Care
Daylily flowers only open for one day, but the scapes (flower stalks) produce many flowers. Deadhead spent flower scapes after all the buds have opened. Cut back the foliage in fall and compost. Daylilies can grow in all the climates of New England from the mountains to the seashore. They have no serious diseases or insect problems. They may need to be divided every 3 to 4 years if overcrowded and stop flowering. Divide clumps in spring and replant soon afterward.
Companion Planting and Design
Daylilies look great massed together in a bed or paired with other summer and fall blooming perennials such as rudbeckia, heliopsis, asters and chrysanthemums. They’re a good plant to grow on a bank or in an abandoned area since they require little care.
Daylily varieties come in many colors and the flowers come in many shapes such as single, double spider, recurved, and flat. Select varieties that bloom early, mid and late season and repeat bloomers to extend the flowering season. Some repeat blooming varieties to try include “Stella De Oro “(yellow), “Happy Returns (red), and “Joan Senior” (white). “Hyperion” is an older variety with bright yellow flowers that blooms in mid summer and has a strong fragrance. “Siloam Double Classic” is an early bloomer with puffy, pink double flowers. “Eenie Joy” has yellow flowers on only 1-foot tall stalks.
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.