Daylily Culture

Daylily Culture

The daylily is one of the most popular herbaceous perennials in the world, being hardy in most climates, and thriving with a minimum of care. Recognizing and filling its basic needs results in greater beauty and performance year after year. Thousands of people enjoy creating new varieties each year through hybridization. Hybridizers at Daylily World have have created new cultivars for more than forty years, winning every award bestowed by the American Hemerocallis Society, with only one exception. Few if any, can claim this distinction.

Daylilies are a major food source in various parts of the world. They are very nutritious and are often used in salads, soups and stir fry.  Like any plant, it has certain cultural preferences.

Daylilies are one of the easiest perennials to grow.  Daylilies can last forever whenoccasionally divided and transplanted . Daylilies do great in mass plantings, perennial borders, as single specimens, in pots or wherever their culture conditions (though simple) are fulfilled. 

Daylily World's plants are freshly dug and are a minimum of double fan divisions (with a few exceptions). We send our biggest plants and on occasion will exceed 3 or 4 divisions.  We try to meet the high demand for our new and recent introductions.  Invariably we will run short of stock right after an initial release is announced, so it is always best to place an order or arrange to reserve your choices to avoid disappointment. The winter of 2014 is giving the daylilies a hardiness test but we expect to ship weekly from late March through December, weather permitting. 


Daylily Culture & Daylily Facts

There is a system of county agriculture and horticulture agents throughout the United States and parts of the rest of the world as well. These agents can usually answer garden questions regarding the care of daylilies. 

The scientific term for daylilies is Hemerocallis from the two Greek words: ἡμέρα (hēmera,) which means "day" and καλός (kalos), which means beautiful.  "beautiful". Hence the name daylily or beauty for a day.

Hardiness ZonesDaylilies do best in zones 4 - 8. Some claim that they will grow in zones 1 - 10.  Dormant and  semi-evergreen daylily cultivars are best for zone 3. Evergreen and some semi-evergreen daylilies are best suited for the zones 8 - 10

When to Plant: Plant daylilies in early-late Spring and early- late fall for best results. In coldest climates plant after and before hard freezes. Daylilies can be planted all summer long in mild climates. In hot, humid climates, avoid planting during the hottest months of summer.

Daylily Varieties: A daylily variety is a daylily that originated in the wild.

Daylily Cultivars: Daylily cultivars are daylilies which are cultivated varieties. 

Where to Plant DayliliesFull sun or partial shade in well-drained soil, away from fierce competition with hedge or tree roots. Filtered sunlight is ideal. Daylilies thrive in well-drained containers. Depending upon the size of the pots and the soil mix, they can flourish for up to five years without changing the soil or dividing the plants. 

Soil: Most soil types, especially sand or heavy clay should  be improved by incorporating organic matter. Use peat, compost, aged manure, mushroom compost, humus or leaf mold, etc. Pine bark soil conditioner (pine fines), incorporated into the soil is a wonderful amendment. Ideal soil PH is 5.5 to 6.5. Good drainage is essential. 

Daylilies in Raised Beds: Popular among commercial growers and hybridizers, especially where conditions are less than ideal, use treated lumber, good imagination or stone as a framework. Beware of nearby trees whose roots will invade from underneath. Daylilies thrive in equal parts Canadian Sphagnum Peat moss (always look for premium grade) and pine fines (Pine bark soil conditioner) with no more than 15% coarse sand. The pros often incorporate a time-release fertilizer and/or Milorganite into the mix. Good drainage is essential. Plants produced this way may or may not be adaptable to ordinary and average garden conditions. 

Mulch: Oak leaves and pine needles are good, as they are light and improve the soil. Also ideal is composted pine bark. The best is pine bark that has been aged with the cambium layer removed.

Water: Daylilies enjoy liberal watering but do not thrive long with wet feet, particularly in warm climates or hard-packed clay-based soils. Plenty of water in the spring is when they can benefit most. Treat daylilies with a deep watering - to depths  9 - 11 inches at a time, which beats frequent, shallow watering. Let them use it up between times but best not to allow them to dry out too much.

Planting: Loosen the soil thoroughly to a depth of 8-12" in the center of the hole. Construct a mound, with the top of the mound only 1/2 inch to 1 inch below soil level. Place the daylily on this mound and arrange the roots toward the bottom of the hole. Firm the soil in place.  Daylilies are best at planted a minimum of 18 inches apart

In colder climates where they can thrive for years without dividing they should be given even more space than if they are lifted and divided frequently. If space allows the daylilies can be planted as much 5 feet or more apart, so as to be able to view each clump at its maximum size. 

Fertilizer:  Daylilies can grow in many soil conditions and thrive with minimal feedings.  In fertile soils with 5.0 to 6.5 pH, a light feeding in the spring should be sufficient. Daylilies seem to love Milorganite or other refined and aged manures throughout the various climate zones with no known exceptions. These organic "feeds" may be incorporated into the soil prior to planting or as a top dressing after planting. Do not allow the fertilizer to come in contact with the leaves. 

When in doubt, we recommend that you determine your soil conditions and nutritional needsprior to planting. Use less on younger plants.  Most states have a county Ag center that can analyze your soil for nutritional diagnosis with recommendations. Many will test your pH, as well.


Never use the pesticide known as Kelthane, as it can be toxic to your daylilies.

The ideal garden is one that is in harmony and balance with nature. In such a garden, predatory insects and fungi do much of the work, with minimal use of chemicals. Garden purists who employ a system of integrated pest management are thrilled to greet praying mantises, orius insidiosus, predatory mites and lacewings, and find it fun to watch them devour their prey. 

Snails and Slugs:  They primarily attack newly forming leaves and scapes. Their tell-tale scars are gray at first, turning to yellow and brown. They live under stones and mulch in cool, dark, damp spaces, emerging after dark to feed. Good sanitation can help to deter them as can a number of commercial products available at garden centers. Be sure and follow the instructions on the containers

Spider Mites:  These small demons arrive in several kinds. All seem to arrive when summer winds blow hot and dry. The ideal control comes in one of their relatives, a mite known as  Phytoseiulus persimilis which gobbles up the undesirable mites once they have built up sufficient populations to sustain them. They attack the undersides of the leaves and can be partially controlled, washing them off with a garden hose. A number of chemical sprays are available for control. Be sure not to use Kelthane and to follow the directions on the containers. 

Thrips: Another family of attackers (over six thousand thrips species), they can arrive early in the season and leave splotchy silvery scars (turning yellow, then brown) on scapes and buds. Biological controls include green lacewings; the thrips mite, Amlyseius cumeris,  oredator thrips, predatory nematodes, and orius insidiosus. There are numerous pesticide sprays which need to be applied early for best control.  A thrips is a thrips, and spelled the same whether one or ten zillion.


Leaf Streak:  Daylilies are susceptible to "leaf streak" fungus. It occurs mainly when foliage is wet for more than 3 1/2 hours and temperatures are between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Day time watering and drip irrigation help. It is easily controlled as soon as it is noticed using fungicides -- either contact or systemic. Daconil, Banner Max, Dithane are effective.

Rust: A fungus that manifests as raised crusty, orangey, rust colored spots on the foliage. To check for rust, wipe the suspicious spot(s) with white tissue. If it wipes off onto the tissue, it is likely to be rust. In zones 6 and above, rust is killed by the cold and does not recur unless introduced again via infected plants. If discovered early, it can be suppressed through use of various fungicides such as daconil, banner max, mancozeb, dithane, cabrio, heritage or others. Check with your county agent for early identification and recommendations.