Daylilies are among the easiest perennials to grow. The following information will help you help them reach their potential.
You may be disappointed in the length of blooming period for the first year or two. But as your Daylilies become established, their bloom season will lengthen.
Daylilies perform best when planted in a location where they will receive sun all day, but 6-8 hours of sun is sufficient. Dark colors, such as purples and dark reds, benefit from afternoon shade, as the available hybrids in those colors are not fully sunfast. Pink and rose shades look their best in full sun.
Daylilies are indifferent to soil type. They thrive in heavy soils with substantial clay content, as well as in sandy soils. They tolerate any soil ph. Add peat moss, compost, or humus to sandy soils to help them retain moisture.
WHEN TO PLANT
Daylilies can be planted at any time during the growing season when the soil is workable. Bare-root Daylilies can be planted at any time, but those planted in the spring will provide only moderate bloom the first summer. They will be at full strength the following year.
When planted in the fall, bare-root Daylilies should be planted 4-6 weeks prior to soil freezing to permit re-establishment of roots. Fall-planted Daylilies, like all perennials, should be mulched the first winter to prevent the plants heaving from the soil through successive freeze/thaw cycles.
Container-grown Daylilies may be planted at any time, even in cold weather if you will mulch the plants.
A common error made in replanting container-grown Daylilies is not separating and spreading the root mass when the Daylily is removed from its container. Breaking this mass apart and spreading the roots encourages the Daylily to extend its roots from the potting mix into the surrounding soil.
Daylilies perform best in well-drained, fertile soils of all types. However, unlike many perennials, daylilies will do okay in quite wet, even soggy areas. Daylilies routinely survive planting in areas that occasionally flood. You might want to experiment with them if you have a problem area.
Most soils benefit from addition of generous amounts of organic material, such as compost, peat moss, leaf mold, or well-aged sawdust. Animal manures, even when well-composted will bring with them a huge quantity of weed seeds. Unless you are prepared to deal with the subsequent weed infestation, animal manures are best avoided. Sandy soils benefit the most from ample incorporation of humus.
The soil should be thoroughly loosened to a depth of 10-12 inches, but you may be surprised what daylilies can do with clay soil if you can but get them in the ground!
WHEN YOU RECEIVE BARE-ROOT PLANTS
Bare-root lilies are those with all the soil removed from the plant, and usually much of the foliage has been trimmed back. Also, the foliage may appear a bit yellowish and look somewhat rough. Ignore this. Daylilies are tough plants that survive shipment dry and can remain out of the soil for awhile.
Soak the plant roots in a pail of water for several hours before planting. Adding a few drops of water-soluble fertilizer like Rapid-Gro is beneficial but not essential. We recommend using a tablespoon-full of Osmocote or other time-release fertilizer in the planting hole if you are planting in the Spring.
If you cannot replant your bare-root shipment at once, open the shipping package, remove the plants from their packing material, and locate the plants in a shady area until ready to plant. Moisten the roots and plunge in peat moss or sand if you have to store them for a week or more. Don't keep them totally soaked.
HOW TO PLANT
We generally plant our daylilies 2 feet apart but you can go a little closer for small-flowered lilies and miniatures. For a closed bed or border 12-18 is the recommended spacing. (After several years the flowers will diminish in size and that is a sign the plants need dividing).
Dig a hole about a foot deep and 12-18 inches in diameter. Mound the soil in the center of the hole. We like to add a tablespoon or two of Osmocote or other time-release fertilizer this point, as well as a nice helping of kelp (the quick-start benefits of kelp should not be underestimated!). For a bare-root plant, position the Daylily at the top of the soil mound so that the crown will end up about 1 inch below the soil surface when the hole is filled in. Spread the roots around the mound (IMPORTANT!). Refill and firm the soil around the plant, making sure there are no air pockets. Water well.
Subsequent watering should not be necessary unless rainfall is scarce. In that event, water your newly replanted daylilies once or twice a week. DO NOT water every day. Replanted daylilies need to be encouraged to send out new roots, and they will do that in search of moisture. Newly planted daylilies rarely rot, but over-watering during times of high heat combine to create stress for the plant.
Once you know the USDA climate zone, you can select the proper Daylilies for that zone, given the following information:
DAYLILIES come in 3 foliage types: Dormant, Semi-Evergreen, and Evergreen.
Dormant varieties are those whose leaves die back completely in the winter. They need a period of cold to flower best, so Zones 3 through 8 are appropriate for Dormant varieties. Our Dormant selections are: Black-Eyed Stella, Buttered Popcorn, Ice Carnival, Pardon Me, Siloam Double Classic, Stella de Oro, and Strutter's Ball.
Semi-Evergreen varieties generally do well in a broad range of climates, from Zones 4 through 10. Our Semi-Evergreen selections are: Canadian Border Patrol, Little Grapette, Moonlit Masquerade, Paper Butterfly, Prairie Blue Eyes, Red Volunteer, Russian Rhapsody, and Strawberry Candy.
Evergreen varieties are those that will try to grow whenever the weather is warm. Our Evergreen selections are: Persian Market and Pandora's Box.
Zones 3 and 4: Evergreen and semi-evergreen Daylilies need to be mulched every winter to avoid winter damage or loss. In these cold-winter zones, if you don't want to bother with mulching, it is best to stick with dormant varieties. Foliage will be frozen to the ground.
Zones 5 and 6: Mulch the first winter (and every year if they are in pots). We have had good luck with all three foliage types in our zone 6 gardens. Foliage will typically be frozen to the ground.
Zones 7, 8:. Foliage will typically be frozen to the ground.
Zones 9 and 10, and other areas without a cold period in winter: Semi-Evergreen or Evergreen varieties will usually perform much better than Dormant selections.
(Please Note: Even with a very warm spell in very early spring followed by a prolonged cold period, all of our Daylilies fared well in our Zone 6 gardens their first year, including our two Evergreen varieties. The potted daylilies were completely covered with straw mulch; those in the ground were only lightly mulched around the bases of the plants the first winter. The in-ground lilies we did not mulch after the first winter, and they have come with flying colors even through the ice storms. It is recommended that you mulch your Daylilies at least the FIRST year in cold-winter areas).
FERTILIIZING & MAINTENANCE
We like to use Osmocote or other time-release fertilizer in the planting hole unless we are planting late in the fall or in winter, in which case you would wait until Spring to fertilize. We have found that another application of a balanced time-release fertilizer (10-10-10, 6-6-8, etc.) midway through the growing season, augmented with kelp and Miracle Grow or its equivalent, works well.
Mulching your plants will help with weed control, moisture-retention, and weather-protection. We found that straw works well for us regardless of season. We like to mulch our lilies as soon as they are up in Spring, as this helps them overwhelm the weeds throughout the summer and helps retain soil moisture. Nature doesn't leave ground bare --we try to keep the same habit!
WINTER PROTECTION for Daylilies in the Ground
Daylilies replanted in the fall should be mulched the first winter. Successive freeze/thaw cycles characteristic of many of the northern states often leads to heaving of the plants. If heaving occurs, simply press the daylily back into the soil. The crown must be below the soil line to produce new roots. (Many daylily growers simply press the heaved plant back into the soil by stepping on both sides of the plant.)
WINTER PROTECTION for Daylilies in Containers
If you are going to be keeping your daylilies in pots over the winter in cold-weather areas, you should take the following steps: 1. thoroughly water them, 2. lay pots on their sides (if you leave them upright, when thaw comes in spring they may get waterlogged and die because of ice in the bottom of the pot), and 3. cover with leaves, straw, or other mulch (if you get snow, that will also help).
Another wonderful thing about daylilies is that after about 5 years, you can dig up and divide your clumps and expand your daylily garden or share them with friends and family. Even if you are adequately fertilizing your daylilies, after a few years the flowers will diminish in size and number as the plant's roots get crowded.
We find it is best to water the lily bed the day or two before digging. You can dig up the clump (we use a potato fork) and separate the fans. You can "wiggle" the dirt off the roots in order to see them, or hose them off. Some plants you will really have to pry apart, other varieties will come apart easily. We like to leave 2-3 green stalks with their accompanying roots to make up each new plant.
Plant these new starts following the directions above and you will soon have more lilies to enjoy!