Daylily Garden Guide

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Daylilies Care At A Glance

  • Daylilies grow best in a sunny location but can tolerate some partial shade.
  • Daylilies prefer deep, organically rich soils improved with leaf compost, peat moss, or aged manure.
  • As with planting any long-lived perennial plants, make sure to clear and remove all invasive perennial weeds like quack grass, from the planting area to prevent major problems later.
  • Hemerocallis the genus for Daylilies translates from the Greek words "Hemera" for Day, and "kallos" meaning Beauty, in reference to their beautiful flowers that open for a single day. Daylilies are plants with long, linear leaves that grow from a tuberous-rooted crown, that will send up a tall stalk or scape that holds their blooms above the foliage.

Daylilies Planting Instructions

  • After digging and preparing a sizable planting hole, set dormant crowns with the top of the crown even with the natural soil grade. Ensure the roots are not bent or overlapping. If they are, dig a bigger hole!
    NOTE: Planting too deeply inhibits growth and flowering.
  • Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart.
  • Backfill organically amended soil firmly in and around the roots.
  • Then water thoroughly, watching for air bubbles that indicate air pockets are being filled.


  • Regular and consistent watering is needed to properly establish perennials like Daylilies.
  • Water using the 1-inch rule. Apply 1 in. of water per plant, per week, which equates to 2.5-3 gallons of water every 2-3 days.
  • Mulching around new plants will help retain soil moisture and help suppress encroaching weeds.
    NOTE: Do Not rely on rain events as they are too sporadic and mostly inadequate. Existing plants can survive on natural moisture, but new, well-rooted plants typically cannot, so don't risk it and just water enough from the start.
  • Once established, supplementally water as needed or during periods of heat or drought.
    NOTE: Daylilies respond favorably to applications of water through flower development, up until blooms fade with mornings being the best time to water.

Daylilies Care - Maintenance After Establishment

Daylilies are fairly carefree, but there are some helpful guidelines to follow for healthy, happy plants.
  • In early spring, remove all old, dead foliage before new growth appears. This is usually as simple as gathering all the leaves in one hand and giving them a twist. If some are stubborn, use pruners.
  • While individual deadheading is not needed (remember each flower only lasts for one day) after all blooms on a scape have bloomed out, the entire scape can be removed by cutting it off down as low as you can reach into the foliage.
  • Fertilizing daylilies is as simple as top-dressing around the base of plants with a 50/50 blend of aged manure & compost every spring just as foliage is emerging. If decorative mulch prevents this, you can apply an all-purpose 10-10-10 or 3-5-3 granulated food in spring then water it in well. Otherwise, for ease, a flower-specific liquid water-soluble fertilizer can be applied to the root zone, once per week for about 6 weeks starting when new foliage appears, then stop.


Like other clump-forming perennials, Daylilies need dividing once every 3-5 years, or when flowering or growth noticeably declines.
  • Divide clumps by cutting through the middle of the clump with a sharp spade.
  • Dig half of the plant out and leave half in the ground, filling the void created with fresh, topsoil blended 50/50 with leaf or mushroom compost.
  • The part removed can be further split into two or three additional divisions.
  • Trim off all broken, decayed, or loose roots and discolored or damaged foliage.
  • Using clean clippers, cut leaves back by about two-thirds.
  • The roots of the divisions can be treated with sulfur powder to reduce the chance of disease. Still, if they are replanted right away, this is usually not necessary if the soil in their new location is appropriately amended and is well-draining. Plant divisions as indicated above.

Winter Protection

Most named Daylily cultivars are suitable for planting in USDA zones 4-9. However, it can be beneficial to mulch new plantings, their first winter with a light mulch of straw, chopped leaves, or evergreen boughs for protection.

Pests & Diseases

Daylilies are generally free from disease or insect problems but do not let your guard down.
  • Slugs & snails can be problematic, munching on foliage and flowers. They are nocturnal creatures, so damage is created mostly at night.
    • Treat around plants with snail/slug baits like Organic Sluggo® Plus.
    • Apply diatomaceous earth around susceptible plants.
    • Home remedy is deploying shallow tins or saucers filled with a bit of apple vinegar or beer. Emptying them the next day is a gross job.
  • Rust can appear on daylilies with bright yellow to brown spots or streaks on leaf surfaces, with smaller corresponding orange spores forming on the back side of the infected leaves.
    • Sanitation is the best defense.
    • Clipping off all infected leaves as soon as they are discovered making sure to put those leaves directly into the trash receptacle to dispose of them.
    • Then wash your hands or gloves and sterilize your clippers with bleach & water or alcohol wipes.
    • Utilize preventative applications of fungicide with chlorothalonil such as Bonide Fung-onil® Fungicide, once every 7-10 days or as instructions indicate on the product label.