How to Grow Day Lilies

Hemerocallis, common name Day Lily, is a spectacular summer flowering plant most of which are herbaceous and vary in size from small compact varieties of around 30cms to the taller varieties of up to 1.5m. Hemerocallis have beautiful flowers often with stripes and attractive clump forming foliage. Hemerocallis are long flowering, perhaps 4-6 weeks, although each flower may be short lived there are many stems of flowers on each plant.The name Hemerocallis means 'beautiful for a day'.

 Many Day Lilies are herbaceous which means they die back totally in the winter leaving bare earth and emerge in the spring with new growth. In milder areas they can be evergreen or semi-evergreen.

     To grow Day Lilies (Hemerocallis) require some effort and are marked as an amber wheelbarrow plant. Hemerocallis are unfussy about the soil and their only real requirement is sun to encourage flowering, but they do need some maintenance.   

The effort side is that some of the taller larger clumps of Day Lilies will need to be staked the plant. All varieties will need regular dead heading to keep them flowering. The new growth may look very upright as it emerges, but don't be fooled, the taller varieties of Day Lily look much better with some staking and support. This means in spring,( or when you get round to it,) as the growth emerges, place a support under their foliage to keep the plant upright and stop it collapsing later in the season when there are many blooms.

Day Lilies need to be dead headed regularly to keep the plant looking good. Each stem has multiple flowers, which is good in the sense of making the plant attractive, but it means dead heading as the flowers are short-lived they need to be removed regularly to keep the plant in good shape. After flowering, each stem can be cut to the ground. Once the plant has flowered and the foliage looks tatty, cut the foliage to the ground and it will reward you with fresh lush growth for the rest of the summer, although it will not flower again. 

The plus side is that day lilies flower constantly from late spring to early- mid summer, with strong lush foliage and make excellent border plants.  They form large clumps, see third image above, and produce good strong colour. They look spectacular, producing large trumpet-shaped flowers in varying shades of yellow, orange, red and deepening down to crimson.

Day Lilies make an excellent cut flower. 

amber wheelbarrow means medium difficulty to grow

Day lilies are an amber wheelbarrow plant as they do need some attention and division with time, so not entirely maintenance free.

How to Divide Day Lilies

Day lily being devided

To keep Day lilies flowering at some point, usually around every three/four /five years or so, the plants need to be divided because they become congested. The only way to do this is to dig up the plant, divide and replant. If you have day lilies which don't seem to be flowering as well as they did, this could be the problem.

The image shows the congested clump of day lily which has been dug up and place on a tarpaulin ready for division. The best way to divide a clump is to take a small saw to the clump and cut it into pieces and replant, all of which is hard work. The time to divide is late autumn or spring. If the plant has flowers which fail to open that can be the work of the Hemerocallis gall midge which is tricky, the best way is to pick off the affected flower heads and do not compost them.

Best varieties of Day Lilies to grow

Good varieties with the RHS garden merit award are: 

 H. 'Marion Vaughn'  lemon-yellow and 'Whichford' both are scented.

H. 'Pink Charm' has a starry shape and a salmon tinge.

H.'Gentle Shepherd' is pale pink  second and center image.

H.'Stafford' is a striking red with a yellow throat.

H. 'Elegant Candy Pretty' pink Hemerocallis with red eye and edge over green throat, and fragrant.

H 'Moonlit Masquerade' very unusual cream with dark purple.

There are dozens of varieties of Hemerocallis simple to grow in a good sunny spot.

last updated 27.06.2021