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Daylily Planting and Care: What You Should Know

Interested in adding some daylilies to your flower garden? We’ve got some tips on growing this beautiful flower.

Keep reading to learn about planting daylilies and caring for them in your garden.

When To Plant

lemon daylily

Daylilies can be planted very successfully at any time the ground can be worked — spring, summer or fall.

Fall planted Daylilies should be mulched to prevent winter frost heaving.

Daylilies are sun-loving flowers but they also bloom rather well in partial shade. Six or more hours of direct sunshine is preferred.

Despite this preference, we are occasionally surprised to find colorful Daylily blooms under the constant shade of tall trees.

Wherever some shade is present, the Daylily flowers will face away from it toward open sky.

Site conditions to avoid, or to improve, are low wet spots where water collects in rainy spells, and high dry spots over ledges where the soil is shallow.

Planting Depth

A hole 4-6 inches deep will be ample for most varieties.

Spread out the roots and fill the hole again with soil, firming it with your foot.

The uppermost roots, where they meet the leaves, should now be covered about ½ inch. (Planting several inches deep will often prevent bloom for a year or two).

Soil Conditions

Loose loamy soil is excellent. Sand, gravel and clay are very poor.

Mediocre soils will be improved by adding compost, rotted leaves or wood chips, old manure, or almost any other organic material.


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In a mixed perennial flower border allow a circle of 16-18 inches in diameter if the Daylily will be divided and replanted in 3-5 years.

If you expect to leave the Daylily clump intact for 10-15 years, it will need a 24-30 inch space.

The same applies to a Daylily flower border.

In a landscape setting, such as a bank to be covered with Daylilies, space the Daylily plants in a triangular pattern with each plant 24 inches from its neighbors.

100 square feet of bank will then require 30 Daylily plants. (Multiply square footage by 0.304.)

As an edging along a walk, use one short variety of Daylily and space the plants 12-18 inches apart in a single line.

Fertilizer Needs

An organic composty soil is seldom deficient in plant nutrients.

To maintain excellent Daylily growth, add any slow release, composted organic matter such as horse, sheep, or cow manure, or your own compost, in either spring or fall.

Mulch Needs

One to four inches of mulch will retain soil moisture and inhibit weed growth among the Daylily plants.

Leaves, hay, woodchips and grass clippings are suitable, but they withdraw some of the soil nitrogen during their own slow decomposition.

You may wish to add some fertilizer, especially with freshly cut woodchips.

Where the ground normally freezes in winter, fall-planted Daylilies should be mulched heavily the first year to prevent them from being heaved out of the ground.

Water Needs

For best performance, Daylilies like a lot of rain, or watering, just before and during flowering.

Flowers will be larger and more numerous, prolonging the Daylily bloom season.


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This may be helpful after 8 to 15 years, or it may not be necessary at all.

For some advice and helpful methods, read below.

When To Divide

Unlike many perennial flowers, Daylilies often bloom well for many years without being divided to rejuvenate them.

Most Daylily varieties will give an excellent performance from their third to their eighth or tenth years—-some, much longer.

Soil conditions may be factors. Large Daylily clumps may respond well to yearly applications of organic fertilizer.

Extra watering just before and during bloom season will often promote the full development of Daylily buds into flowers.

Keeping a heavy mulch around the increasing clump will add to both soil fertility and moisture, as well as controlling weeds, and thus forestall dividing, too.

If the amount of Daylily bloom does become sparse and unsatisfactory, despite these attentions, then it is probably time to divide.

How To Divide

Small Daylily clumps of 5 to 10 fans of foliage are quite easy to divide.

Lift them from the ground with a 4-tined fork, getting as many long roots as possible.

Shake loose the soil, or clean it off with a hose, to see all the roots.

A large pocket knife or kitchen knife can then be used gently between the fans to separate them.

Try to cut as few roots as possible.

Divisions of 2-3 fans are usually best, but single-fan divisions will grow well enough, too.

Large older Daylily clumps are more difficult to divide.

If they cannot be lifted from the ground with a fork, then a spade or shovel will be necessary.

Once out of the ground, these Daylily clumps can be divided elegantly into quarters with two forks back to back in the center.

Lacking that second fork, it will be necessary to slice the clumps into quarters with a spade or shovel.

With quarter-clumps in hand, proceed with a knife. Or, simply replant them.

Brown Leaves

Several conditions cause discoloration to Daylily leaves. The main causes of brown leaves in Daylilies are:

Too Much Sun: Daylilies enjoy the sun, but excessive exposure, especially in hotter climates, can scorch their leaves, causing them to turn brown. Consider providing some afternoon shade or using a sun cloth to protect them during the peak hours of sunlight.

Insufficient Water: Although Daylilies are relatively drought-tolerant, prolonged dry spells can stress them, leading to brown leaf tips or edges. Ensure a consistent watering schedule, especially during dry periods, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings.

High Temperatures: Extreme heat can stress Daylilies, causing their leaves to brown. Mulching around the plants can help keep the root zone cooler and retain moisture.

Nutritional Deficiencies: Lack of essential nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, or magnesium can cause leaf discoloration. Conduct a soil test to identify any deficiencies, and amend the soil with compost or a balanced fertilizer as recommended.

Diseases and Pests: Daylily rust, aphids, and spider mites are common culprits of brown leaves. Remove affected foliage and treat with appropriate organic or chemical controls. Ensure good air circulation around the plants to reduce the risk of diseases.

By identifying the specific cause of brown leaves, you can take targeted actions to remedy the issue and keep your Daylilies looking their best.

Keeping Daylilies Beautiful

Daylilies are a vibrant and resilient addition to any garden, offering a wide range of colors and sizes to fit any landscape design. By following these guidelines on planting, care, and division, you can enjoy the spectacular bloom of Daylilies for many years.

Remember, the key to thriving Daylilies lies in proper site selection, adequate watering, timely fertilization, and regular maintenance. With a little attention and care, Daylilies can provide an enduring and stunning display to your garden.