How to Plant Daylilies

Light up your garden with these bright and beautiful fuss-free perennials.

Daylily.
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When it comes to plants that are tough as nails, few can beat daylilies, which come back year after year. “Daylilies are extremely hardy,” says Karin Walters, with Proven Winners Perennials and Walters Gardens. “They are drought-tolerant, even as young plants. They will put up with a few weeds, and you get fresh blooms every day. If you have an area in your garden where nothing else has done well, plant daylilies.”

Here’s what you need to know to grow these lovely summer-blooming flowers:

What kinds of daylilies should you plant?

Day-lily...
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Daylilies come in a rainbow of shades, some with ruffled petals, smooth petals, or long, strappy petals. They grow in USDA Hardiness zones 3 to 9 (check your zone ) and typically start blooming from early to mid-summer. Although each bloom lasts only a day (thus the name!), the overall display can last for weeks and weeks, says Walters. Some types bloom all summer long. They range from 2 to 3 feet tall and spread about 2 feet wide. Many types are fragrant.

Varieties to try:

  • Going Bananas (bright yellow blooms all summer)
      • Orange Smoothie (fragrant; mango color with pale rose stripe)
        • Nosferatu (purple blooms with chartreuse throats)

          Where can I buy daylilies?

          Garden centers and nurseries sell daylilies from spring to fall. You can also find a wider selection of colors and types from online retailers. Look for plants with bright green leaves with no red or orange-y spots on the leaves, which indicates they may be infected with daylily rust, a fungus which occasionally affects these plants. They’re usually sold in pots, though a few companies sell bare root daylilies (without the soil).

          When should I plant daylilies?

          Ideally, spring or fall is the best time to plant daylilies when the temperatures are mild and rainfall is plentiful. But these plants are super-hardy, so you can even put them in the ground in the heat of summer; just make sure to water them because low-maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance, says Walters.

          How do I plant daylilies?

          Daylilies can handle most types of soil (another reason to plant them!), so you don’t have to worry about tough garden conditions such as clay or sandy soils. They prefer full sun, so find a spot in your garden that gets at least four to six hours of direct sun per day. They won’t bloom well in shade. Dig a hole slightly larger than the pot, then place the plant in the hole at the same level as it was in the pot. If you’re planting bare roots, spread out the roots, and fill in with soil. Water plants for the first few weeks until they get established. They don’t need fertilizer, though it’s fine to add a balanced slow-release granular type in the spring to give them a little boost.

          Close-Up Of Day Lily Blooming Outdoors
          Igor Kudryashov / EyeEmGetty Images

          How do I care for daylilies?

          They don’t need a lot of care, which is the exact reason you should plant them if you’re not into fussy plants. Be patient: They tend to get bigger and better every year. You can deadhead (or remove the spent blooms) if you want, but it won’t make them bloom more as it does for some other plants; it just neatens up the garden, says Walters. Once the flowers fade, it’s fine to cut out the brown stalks, too, if you don’t like the look of them. But again, you can leave everything alone until late fall before tidying up, or wait until next spring to remove the brown leaves and stalks. After three or four years, divide the plants if they start to appear overcrowded. Simply take a piece off the edge with a garden spade, and replant elsewhere.

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