HARDINESS: Zones 3 to 9
PREFERRED SOIL pH: Neutral
PREFERRED SOIL TYPE: Average
PREFERRED LIGHT: Sun to partial shade
ATTRIBUTES: Trumpet-shaped flowers in many colors; grasslike foliage; for beds, pots
SEASON OF INTEREST: Summer
FAVORITES: 'Stella d'Oro', 'Happy Returns', 'Fairy Tale Pink' for repeat bloom
QUIRKS: Flowers last one day, but new ones open dairy
GOOD NEIGHBORS: Artemisia, herbs, roses
WHERE IT GROWS BEST: Sun, well-drained soil
POTENTIAL PROBLEMS: Spider mites, thrips; fungal leaf spot
RENEWING PLANTS: Plants live many years; divide crowded clumps
CRITTER RESISTANCE: Good
SOURCE: Nursery plants, division
DIMENSIONS: 2-6 ft (0.6-1.8 m) tall for standards; 1-2 ft (0.3-0.6 m) tall for dwarfs; 2 ft (0.6 m) wide
Daylily in the Landscape
Few plants are as dependable as daylilies. Their trumpet-shaped flowers come in a rainbow of colors, from rich magenta to chiffon yellow, often enhanced by stripes, streaks, or bands at the throat. Daylilies merge harmoniously with many foliage and flowering plants, or they can be massed for a swath of summer color, a good tactic for planting on slopes. The new dwarf, continuous-blooming types, such as 'Stella d'Oro', 'Happy Returns', and 'Fairy Tale Pink', which top out at a mere 2 ft (0.6 m), are ideal for the front of the border and for containers.
All daylilies have long, arching, grasslike leaves that look good before, during, and after blooming. Pests or
diseases aren't usually a problem, and drought or neglect rarely causes daylilies to flag. The flowers, as their name indicates, usually last only a day, but you can count on most plants to put on a display for a month. By combining varieties that bloom in early or late in the season, you can lengthen the show by a few weeks. Some continuous bloomers can be counted on to flower into fall.
Increasing the Bounty
Daylilies are famous "pass-along" plants that are shared freely between gardeners because they're so easy to divide. Just make sure that each piece you remove from the parent clump has roots and at least one fan of foliage. For best results, trim the leaves to 6 in (15.2 cm) above the ground before dividing to make it easier to see where to separate it.
The best time to plant daylilies is in spring or fall. A site in full sun is best, but daylilies will tolerate partial or afternoon shade and actually prefer it in hot-summer areas. Plant them in well-drained, moderately fertile, weed-free soil. In good soil, fertilizer is not needed, and a diet too rich in nitrogen can lead to sparse flowers and floppy leaves. After planting, daylilies are virtually maintenance free. The leaves of some cultivars may yellow after flowering, but you can easily remove them; if there are many, you can shear plants to within 6 in (15.2 cm) of the soil to produce new growth. Dividing is necessary only when the central portions of clumps become crowded. During freezing winters, a 3 in (7.6 cm) thick mulch of straw, dry leaves, or salt hay applied after the first hard freeze will protect daylilies from the bitterest weather.
Sap-sucking pests, such as spider mites and thrips, may disfigure leaves and flowers, creating pale, stippled areas. Control light infestations by rinsing plants with a firm spray of water from a hose, or apply insecticidal soap according to the package label. In warm, wet weather, leaves may develop black spots caused by a fungus. This fungal leaf spot is a cosmetic nuisance rather than a threat to the plant's health, so simply remove and dispose of infected leaves.