My daylilies have survived drought, water restrictions, harsh Colorado winters, hail and even kids walking to school. It’s no wonder I’m a big daylily fan.
In my zone 5, high-altitude, arid environment, I always appreciate plants with a little moxie.
Common name: Daylily
These little beauties found their way through trade routes from Asia to Europe. From Europe, they were brought to the United States. They are known for their hardiness and beauty. The daylily is also used for food in Asian cultures and are considered to have some medicinal properties (some people have allergic reactions, so always consult with a physician before trying any herbal remedies).
Daylilies are not the same as lilies. Daylilies grow from tubers, and lilies grow from bulbs (many lilies are toxic). I’m not much of a chef, but try “Dining on Daylilies,” by Hank Shaw or, “The Edible Daylily,” by Nancy Oster. I read these articles and will be giving my sweetie some cuttings soon.
I usually buy plants, but they may also be propagated through divisions and seeds. Be sure to dig a large enough hole to give the roots plenty of room to stretch out. Depending on the variety, space the daylilies approximately 1 foot apart. Plant them so the crown is about 1 – 1 1/2 inch below the soil line, and be sure to give them plenty of water until they are well-established.
I usually recommend perennials be planted during the fall. This will encourage good root development, but in all honesty, I have planted daylilies in mid-summer. They have done very well. Daylilies like moist soil but can tolerate dry conditions once they are established. As a gardener in an arid climate, I am a big believer in plenty of mulch. There are so many great benefits of mulch and water retention is just one of its blessings.
There are thousands of daylily cultivars and hybrids. One for just about any need. Some make excellent ground covers, some have a clumping form and grow to 18 – 24 inches, and some cultivars grow as tall as 4 – 5 feet. Between the various cultivars and hybrids, they come in just about every color in the rainbow and can thrive in USDA hardiness zones 2 – 10.
Check with your local nurseries to find the best performing daylilies for your area.
Stella de Oro, Prarie Blue Eyes, Happy Returns and Becky Lynn have performed well in my Colorado garden.
Daylilies are sun worshippers but can tolerate partial shade. My daylilies are near a large Green Ash tree and get about 6 hours of sun each day.
Best soil for your daylilies
Plant them in a slightly acidic soil (pH 6.5 – 7.0). I suggest when you plant your daylilies you add plenty of organic compost, manure, cotton meal or sheep manure to promote initial root development. Till it in until the soil is loose and will drain well. If you have clay soil, feel free to add some sand to improve the drainage. Again, planting in the fall allows the plant to develop strong roots before it turns its energy to producing leaves and flowers.
Of course, depending on the variety, they are great for borders, clumping varieties can help prevent soil erosion on sunny steep slopes, ground covers, and I have had them put on a beautiful show in container gardens too.
Suggested companion plants
I just love my Stella de Oro and Liatris (common name: Gayfeather) combination. If you pick another sun-loving plant to compliment the color of you daylily, you can’t go wrong. Catmint, Penstemon, Chives, Agastache, Clematis and Iris can also produce striking results.