How To Grow And Care For Daylilies

You don't need much more than a sunny spot to grow these easy (and gorgeous!) perennials.

June is the peak bloom season for daylilies. You'll see blossoms in myriad colors on stems ranging from one to five feet tall. Individual flowers last a day, but plants typically open successive blooms over four to five weeks. Rebloomers offer several performances yearly, while a handful of daylilies called everbloomers flower nearly all summer. This simple beauty is toxic to cats, so be mindful of where you plant daylilies because the entire plant, including the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen, and water, can be dangerous.

Daylilies in VIrginia Daylilies cover the hills each summer at Viette Nurseries in Fishersville, Virginia.
Roger Foley

Plant Attributes

  • Common Name: Daylily, Day Lily
  • Botanical Name: Hemerocallis spp.
  • Family: Liliaceae
  • Plant Type: Perennial, Rhizome, Herbaceous
  • Mature Size: 6 in.-5 ft. tall, 2-4 ft. wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
  • Soil Type: Loamy, Fertile, Moist
  • Soil pH: Acidic (6.0 to 6.5)
  • Bloom Time: Spring, Summer
  • Flower Color: Red, Pink, Orange, Yellow, Purple, White
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 4-9
  • Native Area: Asia
  • Toxicity: toxic to cats

Daylily Care

Plant in full sun for the most blooms. Daylilies tolerate just about any well-drained soil, but for optimal results, work in lots of organic matter (such as peat moss, chopped leaves, composted manure, and kitchen compost) before planting. Water deeply and mulch with two to three inches of ground bark or pine straw. You can enjoy daylily blooms for months by combining early bloomers with midseason and late bloomers.


Daylilies need at least four to six hours of direct sunlight daily to remain healthy. Daylilies, especially certain varieties, will tolerate partial afternoon shade if you live in an area with extreme heat.


Daylilies are not too particular about soil type as long as it contains fertile, organic material. Loamy soil is best and should remain moist. If planting in sandy or clay soils, supplement with compost to add nutrients and assist drainage.


During the growing season, daylilies love water. Regular watering is required if you live in an area that does not receive consistent rainfall (at least one inch weekly). While relatively drought-tolerant, the soil should remain moist.

Temperature and Humidity

Daylilies thrive in most temperature conditions as long as it meets the sun and water requirements, which include about one inch of rainfall or watering weekly. These flowers like hot climates, and cold-hardiness varies based on the species.


Adding organic compost every season for additional nutrients is preferred to fertilizer because most daylilies do not require it. If you need to supplement the soil, feed plants in the spring and fall with Espoma Plant-tone 5-3-3, an organic fertilizer that supplies beneficial soil microbes.

Types of Daylilies

Here are some popular early, midseason, late, and reblooming or everbloomers:

  • Early Bloomers: 'Maytime Orange' and 'Sooner Gold'
  • Midseason Bloomers: 'Lavender Eyes,' 'Peach Fairy,' 'Plum Beauty,' and 'Treasure Gold'
  • Late Bloomers: 'August Ruby,' 'Gold Bullion,' and 'Orange Float'
  • Rebloomers and Everbloomers: 'Frankly Scarlet,' 'Lemon Lollipop,' and 'Ruby Stella'


After daylilies bloom, cutting back any seed capsules and stems to the ground is best. If you plan to keep daylilies as perennials, it is better to reserve your plant's nutrients because unnecessary seed development will pull from the following year's flower production.

Keep daylilies healthy by removing yellow leaves or spent blooms. Pinch wilted flowers and gently pull them to promote new growth.

Propagating Daylilies

The best way to propagate new daylilies is by dividing them in the spring or autumn season (at least six weeks before winter). Here is how to propagate daylilies:

  1. Dig up daylily clumps in early spring or autumn, careful not to destroy the roots. Gently shake the root clump to remove excess soil. (Sometimes, soaking root in water helps to loosen the soil.)
  2. Locate the crown, or small white core between the leaves and roots, and use a sharp knife or gardening spade to divide it into smaller clumps. Don't divide the clump more than three times. Each section needs enough healthy roots.
  3. Remove excess weeds and cut leaves back to half their length.
  4. Replant root clumps immediately in fertile soil. Keep soil moist with regular watering. You should see new growth the same year you plant the new divisions.

How to Grow Daylilies From Seed

Daylilies can grow from seeds in most soils. You can harvest seeds from existing daylilies, but the new growth might differ from the parent plant since hybrid varieties exist.

Remove seeds by gently opening capsules with a sharp knife by inserting the tip into the pod. After the pod opens, remove the seeds and store them in a cool dark area (like a brown bag) until you are ready to plant.

Add organic matter when planting seeds and keep the soil moist. Dig a hole one inch deep to sow seeds after the last chance of frost passes in the spring. New seedlings should emerge within one to two weeks of planting.


As perennials, daylilies do not need a lot of winter care. Growth dies back to the ground at the end of the season, so removing this will prepare them for the next growing season. Remove foliage and any remaining flowers after the first frost and cut stems to a few inches about the ground. To protect the roots in freezing climates, add a layer of organic mulch or straw around the plant.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

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

Another pest is called daylily rust. This disease speckles the leaves with raised, orange-brown spots. Rust spores need absolute humidity for five hours to attack, so don't crowd your plants, and never water with sprinklers at night. Keep the foliage dry.

Common Problems With Daylilies

Daylilies are relatively easy to maintain, but some diseases prevent these flowers from thriving.

Leaves Turning Yellow

One of the most common diseases impacting daylilies is daylily rust, a wind-borne spore that grows into fungus on leaves. The fungus, Puccinia hemerocallidis, causes scrapes and spores to develop on the leaves. The small spots will spread unless you cut back affected foliage.

Browning Tips

When daylily leaves turn brown or yellow at the tips, this is likely a sign of improper watering. Adding fertilizer or organic compost to overwatered soil can help prevent diseases, but be sure to keep the soil moist.

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