Daylilies are some of the most rewarding perennials you can grow. As the name infers, each blossom only lasts a day, but daylilies bloom for many weeks and many of the modern hybrids have very long blooming periods, often several months. Early varieties start in June. Most varieties begin blooming in mid-late July and continue into fall. The daylily is now available in virtually every color but blue, and forms vary from traditional narrow petals to wide, ruffled blossoms.
Daylilies are often listed as dormant, semi-evergreen or evergreen. This refers to how quickly the foliage dies down in winter. Dormant daylilies die down to the ground early and are usually considered the hardiest varieties. Semi-evergreen types usually leave some green, and evergreen types remain green in warmer climates. In our severe winters even semi-evergreen and evergreen types will kill down to the ground unless covered early by snow. We grow many semi-evergreen types and have not had problems overwintering them. Although we do not grow or recommend growing evergreen types in the maritimes, you may be able to grow them with a good mulch cover.
Daylilies are adaptable to many soil types, however they will thrive best when grown in a loose, loamy soil with good drainage. Adjust your soil's pH, (acidity level), to 6-7. In most maritime soils you will need to add some ground limestone to reach this pH level. In fall, or early spring, work in compost or well rotted manure. We also add a handful of fish meal, lobster meal or blood-bone meal to provide lots of nitrogen and phosphorus. Although daylilies will survive droughty conditions, you should be sure they are adequately watered if you want the best blooms.
Daylilies can be divided in early spring or fall with relative ease. Dig the clump up and divide with a knife, or your hands if the clump is relatively young. Older, tighter clumps may require a shovel or axe to accomplish division. Water in the divisions well and mulch especially in fall.
Many of the modern hybrids have unusual patterns on the petals. Some of the characteristics you will find include:
- eyezones - a different colored patch in the throat of the flower,
- watermarks - a colored area extending from the throat outward onto the petal,
- crimping - light or heavy ruffling of the petal edges
- wiring - a thin line of color that runs along the petal edge, and
- diamond dusting - a reflective petal surface that sparkles.
Many newer daylilies have wider petals than the traditional petal form, often creating a completely rounded flower form. The spiders have the opposite in that they have very narrow petals that often twist, creating a spidery effect.