The Daylily
This is my site Written by Geoff on July 1, 2000 – 6:55 pm

Daylilies are extremely long living almost pest-free perennials native to the Orient. They are very drought tolerant and will grow in almost any soil. These perennials require little cultivation since their foliage shade out most weeds. Although they will benefit from being lifted and divided, this is not essential. Some, in fact, grow so vigorously that they can be hard to get rid of. 

My first exposure to daylilies was as a youngster traveling North to our summer cabin. This was in the days before the super highway system and we had to travel the “back roads.” These country roads would be lined with bright orange flowers during the summer months. I soon learned that these were daylilies that had escaped cultivation from the gardens of the early pioneer setters. Nothing was left of the early farms but their flowers and an occasional apple tree. 

Today daylilies come in all color except blue . Flowers range in size from two to ten inches, held high on a slender stalk one to four feet in the air. The typical dayliliy bloom has six petals although more doubles or multi-petalled varieties are becoming available. Each flower lasts but one day but is soon replaced by another. A mature plant will have several flower stalks with many flowers opening at once. Once flowering begins, it will continue for several months. With the many varieties now available, it is possible to have blooming daylilies from late spring through autumn. 

Most of our daylilies are diploid with 22 chromosomes although we are seeing more polyploid. Tetraploid, those with 44 chromosomes, has a number if advantages over species daylilies: 

  1. Flowers are much bigger.
  2. More intense colors and brightness.
  3. Flower stalks are longer and stronger.
  4. Flowers and leaves are sturdier.
  5. Increased vigor.

There are a great many new polyploid varieties today to choose from. Every year exciting new tetraploids are being introduced. There are more than 35,000 named varietiesregistered with the American Hemerocallis Society . 

The roots of the daylily vary by species, some are long and slender while others are large and tuber like. No matter the shape, daylily roots are a combination of fine hairy and fleshy finger like growths. They prefer light loamy soil in full sun although, they will grow almost anywhere. A good mulching and a light fertilizer application can be beneficial. Daylilies are drought tolerant but thrive with frequent watering. 

Daylily foliage is grass like in shades of light green. This fan like growth is usually two feet in height with the plants forming clumps. The occasional division of these clumps will improve blooming. Applying too much fertilizer will increase foliage size at the expense of blooming. A good description of the parts of a daylily can be found at The Friends of the Daylily Web Site. 

We consider daylilies one of the easiest perennials to grow. Many gardeners plant daylilies and forget them. They just sit back and enjoy the summer blooms. This is an excellent plant for around out buildings, along lanes, or bordering railroad tracks.

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Modified: March 8, 2009 at 9:20 am GMT-0800

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