Daylilies are fascinating plants because despite each bloom lasting a day, each stalk that grows produces a single bloom. And as the plant matures, it forms a clump and then it can produce anywhere from 200 to 400 blooms each year.
For a plant that blooms for just one day, you really do get your money’s worth with these and there’s thousands of types with various colors and styles as well.
To make sure you get the best from your garden spend, it helps to have your daylily care and know-how along with some tricks to keep up your sleeve to get the most vibrant colors throughout the growing season and for less cost.
July and August are when your daylilies should be putting on a spectacle of a show. Some bloom earlier, in particular the Big Time Happy Daylily, which is a hybrid daylily from Darrell Apps who has spent years experimenting with daylily hybrids that can be grown in Northern climates.
The Big Time Happy Daylily does that, blooming as early as mid-June.
Daylilies Care Begins by Planning Where They’ll Grow
As you may know, daylilies come in a range of sizes. Dwarf daylilies are your ideal bordering plants such as for use around a patio or perhaps the side of a garden shed for bursts of color, whereas others are better suited as bedding plants.
Arranged by height, you’re able to put your dwarf miniatures to the front or center then your taller varieties to the back. But, if you’re planning any landscaping by staging your flowers, you’ll need different types of companion plants for the front and middle as daylilies are tall growers.
Any daylily that’s not a dwarf variety can grow from 36” to 42” with super tall daylily varieties such as the Olallie Towers of EisenKramer reaching heights of 72”.
When you’re selecting your daylilies, try to sort them by height and by bloom season as you can have some daylilies in bloom all season, some will bloom early, others later and there are certain re-bloomers too.
Ideas for Daylily Companion Plants
As you’ll find most dwarf varieties have stalks reaching roughly 17” to 20” in height, you’ll likely want to plant these with some good companion plants.
Ideal companion plants for daylilies are any that are blue or white as those are the only colors of daylilies you can’t get.
Plenty of breeders and retailers will advertise blue ‘shades’ but every blue is more like purply-blue. White is a safer choice because it goes with anything and for that, consider planting some Shasta daisies.
The Snow Lady Shasta Daisy reaches a height of 12” to 15” and the Crazy Daisy can reach a height of 30”. The Alaska Daisy is the largest and tallest, growing to 3-4 ft in height with the petals having a 6” diameter.
Companion plants interspersed with daylilies can give you a really good variety of blooms throughout the season.
How to Plant a Selection of Daylilies
To make your daylily care easier, start by selecting an area in your garden that gets a good six hours of sunlight a day. Not necessarily full sun as they can tolerate partial shade well.
So long as the spot you’re planning to plant your daylilies gets six hours of some sunlight at least per day, that spot will be good.
While daylilies can tolerate heavy clay soils, they do best when they’re in well-draining fertile soil.
A simple way to test if your yard has clay soil is to roll a lump of it into a ball because clay soil is a bit like plasticine. If it sticks and you can squeeze out water, it’s probably got a lot of clay in there.
Improving the soil drainage of clay soil is going to take anywhere from a few months to a few years. Chances are, you won’t want to be waiting that long before you can get daylilies planted and enjoy their vibrant blooms.
The faster way to prepare your soil is to use a landscaping fabric to seal it off so weeds can’t grow (soil solarization), then plant a container bed in that area or build one out of wood such as old pallets or even brick so you can fill in that area with good draining compost.
If you’re planning to use a container bed, make sure there’s at least 15” depth as daylilies need to be planted 12” deep. For sizing, they’re also planted between 12” and 18” apart so consider how many daylilies you want to plant when you’re deciding on your grow area or the size of container you’ll need.
The Right Way to Plant Your Daylilies
Some gardeners skip a vital part in soil prep work for daylilies because these plants can be given a boost by helping them to spread their roots by planting them over a miniature mountain of soil first rather than just plopping them into the ground.
For each daylily you’re planting, you’re always best to dig the hole wider than you need and down to depth of at least 12”. When you put the daylily into the soil and cover it, only the crown should be above the top soil.
For bare-root daylilies, the mount is the real kicker that helps daylilies grow strong roots as it prevents from them compacting together.
Simply build a pile of soil so you can spread each of the roots over it to give them plenty of space to grow thicker without crowding beneath the soil. They’ll last a lot longer.
Here’s a quick video showing the mounting technique for planting daylilies:
Something to note here is that this technique makes daylilies grow faster and stronger but if you’re a bit late to the planting, such as after Spring, then if you plant the roots more compactly, they’ll bloom faster, but the stalks won’t be as strong.
Watering Care with Daylilies
To get blooms daily from your daylilies, care should be taken to make sure they get plenty of water, but never over open blooms.
When watering, the water should penetrate deep into the soil, which is why it’s best to have well-draining soil as you need to give them a lot of water. If your soil doesn’t drain well, it results in standing water and that’s never good for the roots of any plant.
Watering daylilies from above when the bloom is open can cause two problems. If it’s done during the afternoon heat, the open blooms can produce spots and wilting.
If it’s done in the evening before the bloom closes, when the stalk produces a bloom the next day, that’s likely to be spotty.
Daylilies need the soil watered for the roots to do their thing. The spring is when you really want to go at it and deep water your daylilies, meaning drench the soil so the water reaches a good depth into the soil.
It’s in the spring that the plant produces the stalks and buds that’ll keep it blooming throughout the season.
Daylilies Care After Blooming
When your daylilies start blooming, the only thing you really need to be careful with is watering them because you don’t want water near the open blooms, so don’t spray them or use a watering can from above the plant.
Naturally, when it rains, that’s going to be a problem but as these only bloom for the day, after each stalk produces new blooms, the new ones will be back to their full glory within a couple of days.
As the season goes on, you’ll want to pay attention to the color vibrancy. As stalks begin to die off, the blooms won’t be as large and when they do bloom, the colors can begin to fade. This is a sign that the daylily stalks are spent and that’s when you want to cut them back with a pair of sharp pruners.
When cutting stalks, cut them at a 45-degree angle and bring them right back to ground level. Take care not to disturb nearby buds on neighboring stalks as those will still bloom.
Late fall is the time to spend cleaning up your daylily garden as that’s when all the stalks will be spent. The foliage can be evergreen so any green foliage, you’ll want to leave that as it is. The only time to trim the foliage of daylilies is when they begin to yellow.
As long as they’re green, the foliage will help the plant photosynthesize. That’s important for root development as the more photosynthesis happens, the more energy the roots get and that contributes to healthier stalks and buds next season.
After daylilies have bloomed and it’s the end of season, cut each stalk back to the ground level. Without pruning the stalks of daylilies right back to the ground, seed pods can still be present and they’ll take energy from the plant to try to develop, which drains the plants roots of their energy and that will affect the quality of your plants next season.
In the fall is when most of your daylily care will need doing and that’s just cutting them back to give them the best chance to rebloom big and bright next season.
Make Your Daylilies Care and Maintenance Easier with Quality Mulch
The life and general health of your daylilies rely on keeping your soil healthy. A 2-inch layer of organic mulch laid over your topsoil is how you do that.
Good mulching material for the soil used for daylilies are wood chips, shredded bark, leaf mulch and straw. A couple of inches of organic mulch helps protect your soil health over the winter, increases water retention and also helps keep pesky weeds under control around your plants.
Daylilies Care for the Prevention of Diseases
One of the better aspects of daylilies is that they are typically resilient to bugs (deer resistant too), and there’s very few diseases that pose a real danger to them.
Some of the daylily diseases to keep an eye out for include:
This is mostly caused by overwatering but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve overwatered your plants. Too much water in the soil can occur because of poor soil drainage.
A lack of air circulation can also be a contributing factor, as can higher than usual temperatures and fertilizing your daylilies with the wrong type of fertilizer.
A balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) is best for daylilies and applied every other week or monthly in spring and summer, cutting back on applications toward the end of summer.
As with all plants, prevention is the best cure and that’s to use a moisture meter to test your soil before you deep soak your daylilies in the spring. Take care when you plant them to separate the roots as much as possible so that the roots have good air circulation.
If you have a problem with soil drainage, that can be improved by tilling in some organic mulch, vermiculite, compost, sand and/or perlite.
Soft rot is the largest potential problem for daylilies.
Thrips are usually only a problem for greenhouse growers but they can affect a lot of garden plants in most parts of the world.
They are tiny so it’s unlikely you’ll spot the thrips attacking your plants. You’re more than likely to spot the damage they cause.
Thrips are attracted to softer parts of the plants so damage is noticeable on the lower parts of a daylily stalk. The damage starts out as tiny white spots.
Another attraction are weeds as those are smaller making them easier for thrips to infiltrate. They can start from one plant (garden weeds are still plants) then migrate to new plants for fresh foliage to lay their larvae.
If you are noticing tiny white speckles on softer parts of your daylilies near ground level, an idea is to use a sticky trap to see if it catches any of these or other insects that could be causing the damage.
To eliminate thrips organically, give your daylilies a spray of neem oil. Another option is to use predatory nematodes.
Daylily Leaf Streak
Daylilies are more susceptible to leaf streak in spring as it’s a fungal disease that can survive on foliage over the winter and then infect new growth coming through in spring.
Leaf streak starts out at the tip of a leaf then progresses down the center vein.
Infected leaves should be cut off the plant and destroyed because it is a fungal infection that can spread to other leaves. Do not add these to your compost. The longer leaf streak survives, the yellow streak will eventually turn brown and eventually destroy the plant.
Cut the infected leaves off the plant, and when you’re watering, always water into the soil and don’t spray your plants or water from above as that’s usually the cause of leaf streak. Especially if there’s been damage caused by thrips or other insects that puncture the foliage creating a gateway for infection.
Wrapping Up This Daylilies Care Guide…
The majority of problems you may come up against with daylilies will be related to watering. That’s why it’s imperative to take the time to prepare your soil before you plant them and plant them with their roots spread out so they can benefit from better air circulation.
Take the time to prepare your soil and you’ll find that caring for daylilies is little more than keeping an eye on your soil moisture level and occasionally pruning spent stalks to encourage new growth and bigger blooms.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.