What is a Daylily?
- Repeat after me, a Daylily is not a Lily. A Daylily is not a bulb. It is a perennial
plant with a fibrous root system. Hemerocallis comes from the Greek and means 'Beauty for
a Day'. While each bloom lasts for only one day, the number of buds on each flower scape
will keep you in blooms for weeks and with the number of cultivars which bloom at various
times, you can enjoy their flowers all season long.
- Daylilies will do quite well in any good garden soil and prefer a pH in the 5.5 to 7
range. The soil should be worked to a depth of at least 12 inches. It should be moisture
retentive but not remain soggy. While Daylilies are 'heavy feeders', it is best to start
with a soil of medium fertility and top dress with compost or a 5-10-10 fertilizer in the
Spring and late Fall. (too much nitrogen will result in lots of foliage at the expense of
They can get by on 6 hours of direct sun per day, but the more sun the
better. Some of the darker reds and purples do benefit from shade during the hottest part
of the day. Daylilies have fleshy roots making them drought tolerant, but they will reward
you with many more blooms if they are supplied with adequate water during bud formation
and bloom. If you do not have access to adequate water during the summer then mulching
will go a long way towards conserving soil moisture.
- Daylilies can be planted at any time from early May until late September. Dig the
planting hole large enough to accommodate the roots fully spread out; make a mound in the
center of the hole, place the, plant on this spreading the roots out and down. Water them
in well, if possible with one of the liquid fertilizers with a rooting hormone in it (like
'Plant Start'). Cover the roots with soil to a depth not greater than 2" above the
crown (the point where the roots meet the base of the plant). If the plant is buried too
deeply it may not bloom. Make sure the soil is well packed around the roots so that the
plant does not sink into the ground as the soil settles. Water well and keep them well
supplied with moisture until new growth starts and they are established.
be left in place for years, so allow at least 24 inches of space around each plant. They
can be planted more closely together if you want the space to fill in quickly, but may
need to be divided sooner. While most plants will bloom ft first year, they will not
really reach their full potential until the second year.
What To Do When Your Plants Arrive
- There is much debate about how best to get your plants off to a good start. My advice is
to get them in the ground as soon as possible, preferably the day they arrive. If you are
unable to plant them for a few days place the box in a cool, shady spot or heel them into
the garden. You may, if you wish, soak them for an hour or so before planting, but do not
leave them sitting in water for days.
Diploid and Tetraploid Daylilies
All our daylilies, in cultivation and otherwise, are derived from the wild species
native to the Far East. These species all have 11 pairs of chromosomes, for a total of 22
per cell. This is referred to as the "diploid" condition -- from the the Greek
"diploos" two-fold. In the scientific context, it means "coming in
In the twentieth century, biologists learned to treat plant tissues with the natural
product colchicine. The action of this drug on the dividing cells of actively growing
tissue prevents the cell from completing the process of cell division, but only after the
original diploid set of chromosomes has been duplicated.
The resulting plant cells, in the case of our diploid daylilies, now have two sets of
11 pairs of chromosomes, for a total of 44 chromosomes in all. The word
"tetraploid" was coined to descibe this new condition -- it means, roughly,
having four sets chromosomes.
The tetraploids were considered to be bigger and more robust than their diploid forms,
but that need not be the case for every tetraploid compared to every diploid. Indeed, the
effects of extensive breeding have long since overwhelmed the simple effects of the