Plant Profile: Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.)

I thought that we would take a look at daylilies today…daylilies as a whole with discussion about a few popular cultivars. Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) are perhaps the easiest to grow of all of the sun loving perennials. They withstand a tremendous amount of abuse, can grow in extremely harsh conditions and are only bothered by a few pests.

Daylilies perform best in full sun but can certainly withstand a bit of shade. They are one of the “sun” perennials that I’ve been able to successfully establish in my shady yard. I may not receive the same amount of blooms as those grown in sunnier areas, but I’m not complaining. As for moisture, they can’t grow in desert-like conditions or standing water. If your garden lies anywhere in between these two extremes, your plants will do well. While I say that they can’t grow in standing water, they can survive bareroot in water. When I worked at Maymont, we were allowed to take home divisions of plants that were being divided in the various gardens. I successfully housed bareroot daylilies in old pots and pans under my future-husband’s tall deck. They were a bit neglected and the pots often filled with rainwater. The daylilies did just fine and we have those divisions at our house now, 15 years later.

Daylilies seem to be one of those plants that hybridizers have a field day with. There are all sorts of beautiful cultivars that have been developed by daylily enthusiasts, many of them being backyard breeders. Check out The American Hemerocallis Society’s page to get a feel for just how many daylilies there are in the world. They have a pretty awesome database that can give you just about any information on a particular cultivar that you could want. Here are a few of the most popular cultivars:

‘Stella d’Oro’ – Photo courtesy of Dutch Gardens


‘Happy Returns’ – Photo courtesy of Conard-Pyle



‘Gentle Shepherd’ – Photo courtesy of


Hemerocallis fulva aka Roadside Daylily – Photo courtesy of


Many people think of the Roadside daylilies as a weed…I happen to think they’re quite delightful. They naturalize quickly and fill old homesteads and ditches everywhere. There is even a double variety known as ‘Kwanso’.

I’d be remiss to not include some information on daylily rust. It is a “new” disease of daylilies that is spreading quickly. It takes a lot of fungicides to keep it under control so it is best to take care to not introduce it to your garden. Here is a picture of the symptoms:



I’ll do a future post about daylily rust versus daylily leaf streak. They are two different diseases and it’s important to distinguish between the two. What daylilies do you grow in your garden? Are they old classics or some of the souped-up new hybrids? Leave me a comment below or e-mail me. If you enjoy being part of the Mid-Atlantic Gardening community, join our e-mail list (upper right hand corner of this page), become a fan on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Happy gardening!



July 18, 2012Permalink Leave a comment

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