We fell in love with Daylilies as an option to give us colour in the garden over summer.
Daylilies are perennial plant from the genus Hemerocallis, coming from a different family to irises. When left undesturbed they can quickly form large clumps with many flowering spikes. They have a few different types - minatures, beautiful big singles, doubles and spiders.
Some flower before Christmas and again in Autumn bringing wonderful colour to the garden. Some years they have flower spikes into May. We love the fact they have good bright red varieties - something you don't get with irises. Many of the dark coloured daylilies have an attractive velvety look to their petals.
A little known fact is that Daylilies are very nutritious and all parts can be eaten.
Daylilies are suited to a wide range of climates and grow easily in most areas of Australia including humid coastal zones and frosty locations. The one exception being tropical areas that lack cooler days or nights in winter.
They need at least five to seven hours of sun a day to bloom well but prefer some afternoon shade in very hot arid regions and they will flower happily in part shade. They also need free draining soils. Daylilies are heavy feeders, like mulch, compost or animal manure and require a little more water than irises over summer.
Grow each plant 60-90cm apart giving them room to form their big clumps.
To plant bare-rooted plants dig a hole, form a mound in the base of the hole, then spread the roots over it and backfill with soil. The crown, which is where the roots meet the stem, should be 2cm below the surface. Water plants in with a seaweed solution and keep well mulched.
In early spring and autumn give plants some organic fertiliser and top up the compost/manure particularly if your soils are on the poor side.
To keep plants looking tidy and encourage further blooms regularly move spent flower spikes. As the older outer leaves die off they can be left to slowly drop and ‘self mulch’ around the base of the plant.
Daylilies make great feature plants for cottage gardens and perennial borders with them ranging in size from around 50cm to 1m tall. Most are evergreen but some turn semi-evergreen during winter.
They require close to full sun, good drainage, and more water than irises. Watering regularly over summer helps them thrive. Some flowers are quite large - almost as big as an open hand. They only stay open for a day but the next bud will not be far behind and big clumps have several flower spikes.
These are stunning plants with huge flowers with long strappy petals. To be technical, a spider daylily is any daylily flower with petals that are at least four times as long as they are wide.
We have a few double daylilies that are pretty with their extra petals and symmetry.
Daylilies in Pots
Standard daylilies can be grown in big pots as long and the mix is free draining, they get enough sun, water and fertiliser.
In addition there are dwarf forms that grow 30cm to 50cm tall, have smaller flowers and are perfect for pots.
Over time daylilies develop into clumps which can be dug up and divided into smaller plants using a knife or secateurs. It is a lot more difficult to dig daylilies as compared to irises. They can be quite brittle so patience is required. A waste high bench is important to save straining your back.
Usually you need to take the whole clump out and carefully prise the plants apart. While I have them out of the ground I pot some up for the next open days.
As the daylilies flower all through summer and into Autumn, April / May is the best time to dig and divide them.