177 Hemerocallis hybridsCommon Names: daylily Family: Liliaceae (lily Family)
Daylilies are clump forming perennials with arching, grasslike or straplike leaves 10-40 in (25-102 cm) long, depending on the cultivar. All the leaves arise from the base of the plant in two opposing ranks, resulting in a fanlike appearance which becomes obscured as the clump enlarges. A leafless stalk, called a scape, extends above the leaves and bears the flowers. Most scapes have two or more branches, each with several flower buds. In most varieties the flowers open one at a time, and last only one day, but the blooming period may extend for weeks, even months. The flowers have 6 tepals (3 petals and 3 very similar sepals), collectively called the perianth. There are more than 30,000 named cultivars of daylilies registered with the International Registration Authority. Daylilies are classified as evergreen, semi-evergreen or dormant. They also are classified by flower height, flower size, flower color, flower shape, time of blooming (day or night or extended), and season of blooming. Some cultivars are tetraploid (having twice the normal number of chromosomes), and some are diploid. Tetraploids tend to be more robust and less graceful. Almost all colors except true blue and pure white have been produced. Many cultivars have fragrant flowers.
The 15 or so wild daylilies from which the garden hybrids have been created grow in China, Korea and Japan. Daylilies have escaped cultivation in many areas and can be seen growing along road shoulders and at abandoned home sites.
CultureDaylilies are carefree and easy to grow in fertile, well-drained soil with neutral to slightly acidic pH. Some even do well in clayey soils with poor drainage. Divide daylilies every 3-5 years to keep them growing strong and to promote flowering. Light: Most all daylilies do best in full sun, but tolerate partial shade. Some of the paler cultivars may not flower unless they get long periods of direct sun. Some of the dark purple and red cultivars do better in partial shade, especially in subtropical climates. Moisture: The soil should not be allowed to dry out completely during the growing season. Hardiness: USDA Zones 2 - 10. Propagation: Propagate daylily hybrids by dividing the fibrous, somewhat tuberous root clumps. Divide the cold hardy cultivars in spring or autumn, and the evergreen ones only in spring. Occasionally a small plantlet, called a "proliferation" will develop on the scape. This can be rooted to produce another plant.
Daylilies usually are grown in mixed borders or planted in large drifts. They can be allowed to "be on their own" in the wild or woodland garden or along a pond or creek.
Daylilies are excellent (some say perfect) border plants because their pale green leaves emerge in early spring to mark the border, and the showy flowers that follow are produced over a long period.
There are hundreds of societies dedicated to the cultivation of daylilies and the propagation of new cultivars. Visit the American Hemerocallis Society for a starter.
Steve Christman 10/31/00; updated 3/16/04, 5/7/05