Here at Gardening Know How we get lots of questions, and our goal is to provide answers to those inquiries to the best of our knowledge. If you are a fan of daylilies, then you may have some questions of your own. And that’s perfectly fine. We can answer them. In fact, here are the 10 most commonly asked questions about growing daylilies in the garden.
Although daylilies can be planted any time during the growing season, many gardeners prefer to plant in spring. You’ll probably see a few blooms the first summer, but it will take at least another year for the plants to produce fully. Alternatively, plant daylilies in fall, four to six weeks ahead of the first expected hard freeze. By planting in fall, you should see blooms the following summer.
Daylily plants will produce more blooms if they are divided every three to five years, or whenever you notice the plant is crowded and blooming has slowed. A good time to divide daylilies, as with most perennial division, is after the plants have finished flowering in late summer or early fall. You can also divide daylilies in spring, just before or shortly after you notice new growth.
Daylily plants often stop blooming when they’re overcrowded and generally benefit from division every few years. Also, be sure your plants are getting enough water. Although daylilies are drought tolerant, they benefit from irrigation, especially after planting or dividing or when the weather is hot and dry. Be careful of using too much fertilizer, as overfeeding may result in lush foliage but no blooms. If your daylilies are planted next to your lawn, they may be absorbing lawn food and need no additional fertilizer.
Deadheading isn’t absolutely required, but your daylilies will produce more flowers if you remove old blooms before they set seeds; otherwise, the plant’s energy goes into seed production instead of flowering. Just pinch, snap or cut blooms as soon as they wilt. Be sure to remove the ovary – the swollen area at the base of the bloom, because this is where seeds develop. Removing only the flower does no good. You may need to deadhead daylilies every couple of days when the plant is in full bloom.
Cut daylily plants down nearly to ground level in late summer or early fall, after the foliage has died down and turned brown. Don’t remove daylily foliage while it’s still green, as green leaves allow the plants to photosynthesize and produce energy they need to produce healthy blooms next year. To keep the plants neat, you can safely remove individual stalks as soon as flowers on the stem have finished blooming, and you can also remove dead leaves throughout the season.
It’s best to dig up daylilies and store them for the winter if you live in area with hard winters. Dig up the entire clump after the foliage has died back in late summer, but before the first hard frost. Pull the clumps apart if the plant needs to be divided. Shake loose dirt off the roots, then store the daylilies in a mesh bag, or in a cardboard box or paper bag filled with peat moss. Daylilies need a dry, well-ventilated area that is cool but not freezing. Avoid high humidity, as the daylilies are likely to rot.
Daylilies are relatively easy to start from seed, but you probably won’t see blooms for two or three years. Purchase seeds or harvest dry pods from existing plants. If you harvest seeds, let them dry for a few days, then store them in the refrigerator for around six weeks. After the chilling period, plant the seeds indoors in containers filled with potting mix. Cover the containers with plastic, then place the containers in a warm spot or on heat mats. As soon as sprouts emerge, remove the plastic and put the containers under grow lights or fluorescent bulbs. You can also plant seeds directly outdoors.
Transplanting daylilies isn’t difficult. The best time to transplant is immediately after blooming so the roots have time to settle in before next year. Although you can successfully transplant anytime during the growing season, blooming may be delayed. Prepare the new location ahead of time by digging 2 to 3 inches (5-7.5 cm.) of manure or compost into the top 6 inches (15 cm.) of soil. Cut the foliage down to 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm.) then dig the clump carefully. Water the daylilies thoroughly after transplanting and keep the soil moist until new growth emerges.
Rust shows up with yellow to brown spots and streaks on leaves and small, orange pustules that contain dusty, orange spores. To treat rust, use a fungicide registered for daylilies. You may need to reapply the fungicide weekly to prevent new infections. Dig up infected plants and destroy them by burning or burying. To prevent spread, spray fungicide on the foliage and the surrounding soil before removing diseased plants. To prevent rust, water at the base of the plant and avoid overhead sprinklers. Clean up plant debris throughout the season and in fall. Planting disease resistant cultivars is the best means of prevention.
Most daylilies are well behaved, but common orange daylily (Hemerocallis fulva), also known as tiger lily or ditch lily, is extremely invasive and difficult to control. Glyphosate can be used to control the plant, but if you prefer not to use herbicides, you can try digging the bulbs. Be sure to rake the soil carefully to get all the tiny bits and pieces. You can also keep the plants mowed and they may eventually run out of energy. A heavy layer of mulch may help.
We all have questions now and then, whether long-time gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a gardening answer. We’re always here to help.