How To Grow And Care For Daylilies

This reliable bloomer adds shape and color to the Southern garden. Learn about growing and caring for daylilies.


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Clusters of flowers resembling lilies appear at the ends of generally leafless, wandlike stems that rise well above the foliage. Each daylily flower stays open for only one day, hence the name daylily (the genus name comes from the Greek words for day and beauty). Most daylilies bloom once a year, producing numerous flowers over a 3- to 6-week period. Other types may bloom again later in the summer and are called rebloomers.

You can plant daylilies in solid sweeps, or mix them into herbaceous borders. Plant them on banks and roadsides, or group them near pools and streams. Dwarf types are excellent in rock gardens and containers or as low edging. Because the individual blooms close each evening, daylilies are not great cut flowers. But if you cut stems with well-developed buds, these will open on successive days, though each blossom is slightly smaller than the previous one.

Set out bare-root or container-grown plants anytime the ground isn't frozen. Preferred times for planting are spring or fall. If deer are plentiful in your area, be warned: deer love most daylilies!

According to the ASPCA, daylilies are toxic to cats.

Plant Attributes

Common Name Daylily
Botanical Name Hemerocallis  
Family Hemerocallidaceae
Plant Type Perennials, Tubers
Mature Size 1-4 ft tall, 2-4 ft wide 
Sun Exposure Full sun to partial shade in Tropical South
Soil Type Well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Spring, Summer
Flower Color Red, Pink, Orange, Yellow, Purple, White, Black 
Hardiness Zones 6-11 (USDA)  
Native Area Asia, Central Europe
Toxicity Toxic to cats

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Daylily Care

Daylilies adapt to almost any soil type, but for best results give them well-drained soil amended with organic matter. Provide regular moisture from spring through autumn. In spring, apply a complete organic fertilizer (5-3-3, 3-4-5, or similar) to soil around established plants. Follow label directions; be sure to keep fertilizer off foliage. Do not fertilize newly planted daylilies. 

When clumps become crowded (usually after 3 to 6 years), dig and divide them in fall or early spring. Though otherwise pest free, daylilies are now threatened by a potentially serious disease, daylily rust (Puccinia hemerocallidis), which is primarily a problem for growers in the Lower South and warmer. First identified in Georgia in 2000, this rapidly spreading fungus causes yellow to orange streaks and pustules to form on the leaves. The fungus is killed by cold weather, so its impact has been negligible in areas that receive freezing temperatures. 

To control, pick off and burn all infected leaves; then spray at regular intervals with a recommended product according to label directions. Consult with your local Cooperative Extension Office for product recommendations.


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Daylilies like full sun, but in Tropical South Zones 10-11 (USDA), the foliage can burn, so they will appreciate a shady reprieve in the hottest part of the day. The plant flowers with full sun with about six hours of light; with partial shade, daylilies will bloom, but expect fewer blooms.


Daylilies adapt to almost any soil type, but for best results give them well-drained soil amended with organic matter—such as peat moss, chopped leaves, composted manure, and kitchen compost—before planting. 


Daylilies will need regular moisture from spring through autumn.

Temperature and Humidity

Daylilies do well in our warmer temperatures and the humid Southern climate.


Feed daylilies in spring and fall with Espoma Plant-tone 5-3-3, an organic fertilizer that supplies beneficial soil microbes.

Types of Daylilies

Tall daylily (H. altissima)

Blooms in late summer and early autumn; the pale yellow flowers give off a light perfume at night. The ‘Statuesque’ variety, which can feature 5-ft. stems, blooms in mid-to-late summer. 

Citron daylily (H. citrina):

Blooms in midsummer, bearing fragrant, narrow-petaled, soft lemon/yellow flowers that open in early evening and last until noon the next day. Leaves are longer and narrower than those of most daylilies.

Tawny daylily, common orange daylily (H. fulva)

A tough, persistent plant suitable for holding banks; rarely sold but commonly seen in old gardens and along roadsides. Doubleflowered ‘Kwanso’ and ‘Flore Pleno’ are sometimes seen in the same locales. 

Lemon daylily (H. lilioasphodelus H. flava)

Fragrant, pure yellow flowers that bloom in mid-to-late spring. Newer hybrids may be showier, but this species is still cherished for its delightful perfume and early bloom time. 

Grass-leaf daylily (H. minor)

Blooms for a relatively short time in late spring or early summer. When fragrant, bright golden yellow flowers are held just above the foliage. 


There are different types of hybrids, including deciduous, evergreen, and semievergreen. Some have broad petals, others narrow, spidery ones; many have ruffled petal edges. Colors range far beyond the basic yellow, orange, and rusty red to pink, vermilion, buff, apricot, plum or lilac purple, cream, and near-white, often with contrasting eyes or midrib stripes that yield a bicolor effect. Many are sprinkled with tiny iridescent dots known as diamond dust. Selections with semidouble and double flowers are available. Tetraploid types have unusually heavy-textured petals, and blooming usually begins in mid- to late spring, with early, midseason and late bloomers available. As a general rule, the warmer the climate, the earlier the season starts. By planting all three types, you can extend the bloom period for up to two months. Reblooming types may put on a second or even third display in late summer to mid-autumn. These include 2-ft.-high dwarf selections such as bright yellow ‘Happy Returns’, bright gold ‘Stella de Oro’, and burgundy ‘Pardon Me’. New hybrids appear in such numbers that no book can keep up. To get the ones you want, visit daylily specialists, buy plants in bloom at your local nursery, or study catalogs. 


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Daylilies by Color


Elizabeth Salter—melon peach-pink, 51 ⁄2-in. blooms, 22 in. tall
Ruffled Apricot—apricot, 7-in. blooms, 28 in. tall 


Derrick Cane—black, 5-in. blooms, 34 in. tall
Jungle Beauty—black, 51 ⁄2-in. blooms, 30 in. tall
Midnight Magic—black-red, 51 ⁄2-in. blooms, 28 in. tall 


Condilla—bright gold, double, 41 ⁄2-in. blooms, 20 in. tall
Fooled Me—bright gold with a red eye, 51 ⁄2-in. blooms, 24 in. tall
Mary’s Gold—tall, bright gold, 61 ⁄2-in. blooms, 34 in. tall
Star Struck—bright gold, 5-in. blooms, 26 in. tall 


Bela Lugosi—deep purple, 6-in. blooms, 33 in. tall
Indian Giver—deep purple, 41 ⁄2-in. blooms, 20 in. tall
Lavender Vista—lavender, 5-in. blooms, 22 in. tall
Little Grapette—grape-purple, 2-in. blooms, 12-18 in. tall 

Near White

Joan Senior—one of the whitest, 6-in. blooms, 25 in. tall
Lullaby Baby—near white-pink blush, 31 ⁄2-in. blooms, 18–24 in. tall
Moonlit Masquerade—cream with a purple eyezone, 51 ⁄2-in. blooms, 26 in. tall


Lady Lucille—bright, deep orange, 6-in. blooms, 24 in. tall
Mauna Loa—bright orange, 5-in. blooms, 22 in. tall
Orange Velvet—the color of orange sherbet, 61 ⁄2-in. blooms, 24 in. tall Orange Vols—deep orange, 61 ⁄2-in. blooms, 24 in. tall


Barbara Mitchell—medium pink, 6-in. blooms, 20 in. tall
Persian Market—rose-pink, 7-in. blooms, 27 in. tall
Strawberry Candy—strawberry-pink with a rose eye, 41 ⁄4-in. blooms, 26 in. tall 


Chicago Apache—scarlet-red, 5-in. blooms, 27 in. tall
Pardon Me—burgundy-red, 3-in. blooms, 14 in. tall
Red Volunteer—red, 7-in. blooms, 30 in. tall
Spiderman—red with yellow throat, 7-in. blooms, 24 in. tall 


Autumn Minaret—yellow, 4-in. blooms, 66 in. tall
Hyperion—fragrant, light yellow, 5-in. blooms, 36 in. tall
Mary Todd—bright yellow, 6-in. blooms, 22 in. tall


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Pruning Daylilies

Remove spent yellow leaves throughout the growing season. Once the flower goes to seed, pinch the stem back. This puts the energy back into the plant and will keep the plant looking good next season.

Propagating Daylilies

When clumps become crowded (usually after 3 to 6 years), dig and divide them in fall or early spring.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Daylilies suffer very few pests, but deer top the list because they crave daylilies like filet mignon. If they plague your garden, treat plants with a deer repellent, such as Liquid Fence or Deer Off. 

Another serious pest is called daylily rust, which is primarily a problem for gardeners in the Lower South. This disease speckles the leaves with raised, orange-brown spots. Rust spores need 100% humidity for five hours to attack, so don't crowd your plants and never water with sprinklers at night. Keep the foliage dry.

To control, pick off and burn all infected leaves. Consult with your local Cooperative Extension Office for product recommendations. Spray at regular intervals with a recommended product according to label directions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Best Daylilies for Reblooming?

Try these reliable varieties for more blooms: Apricot Sparkles, Bitsy, Buttered Popcorn, Dublin Elaine, Earlybird Cardinal, Frankly Scarlet, Happy Returns, Janice Brown, Miss Amelia, Plum Perfect, Stella de Oro, and Yellow Bouquet.

When Is Peak Season for Daylilies?

June is peak bloom season for daylilies. Here you'll see blossoms in myriad colors on stems ranging from 1 to 5 feet tall. Individual flowers last but a day, but plants typically open successive blooms over four to five weeks. Rebloomers offer several performances a year, while a handful of daylilies called everbloomers flower nearly all summer long.

What Can I Plant Daylilies With?

Daylilies need not stand alone! They look great combined with other flowering perennials and shrubs, such as salvia, purple coneflower, Russian sage, fernleaf yarrow, summer phlox, coreopsis, black-eyed Susan, blazing star, sedum, heuchera, ornamental grasses, and butterfly bush.

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