Twisting Star - Quilt Block

Planting Daylilies


How To Plant Daylilies ... or a Daylily Flower Bed
by Dawn Lesley Stewart

I recommend growing daylilies for anyone. Daylilies are low maintenance. It doesn’t matter if you have a green thumb or not. Daylilies are very forgiving and can withstand neglect and even do well during water shortages. The flowers are gorgeous, and when not flowering, the greenery is attractive.

There are five beds with daylilies in my yard. Three of those flower beds are dedicated to a variety of daylily plants, including regular size and miniature daylilies. The other two flower beds are a mix of perennial plants, including daylilies placed throughout the beds.

Here are instructions for preparing, planting, and taking care of dayliles.

Selecting Location

My daylilies are planted in a variety of areas around the house. Avoid locations that are completely shaded. Some shade is okay. An important thing to remember is that as long as they have at least six hours of light and periodic watering, they will do well.

Soil Preparation

Daylilies are not fussy about the soil they inhabit. However, they do prefer soil that drains well. When first preparing the bed, I mix composted material into the soil (from my compost bin), or if none is readily available, I buy bags of composted cow manure. Make sure to use “composted” manure, though, or your flower bed will probably end up full of weeds. As a rule, I do not worry about the pH level. However, I know my soil tends to need the addition of lime every now and then. 

If you have a soil testing kit, and find that the pH level is less than 6.0, then consider adding lime to the soil to sweeten it. I just sprinkle the lime atop the soil, and using a hand rake I scratch it into the earth. Daylilies prefer a pH level around 6.5.

Buying and Planting

I usually purchase my daylily plants from local nurseries where I can see the plants and choose well-formed ones. At times, good friends and family members divide and share their plants with me. Sometimes I order daylilies via online stores; however, only if a flower bloom is so lovely that I can’t resist it!

Planting is straight forward. Regular size daylilies should be placed about 2 1/2 feet apart. Miniature daylilies can be placed about 1 1/2 feet apart.

Dig a hole bigger than the plant pot or root bundle. The roots will need room to spread, so it is better to dig a larger hole than needed. Leave some soil in the bottom of the hole in the shape of a shallow volcano cone (to spread the roots over). Remove the plant from the plant pot and loosen the soil around the roots. If the roots are loose enough, you can spread them out in the hole. Make sure the base of the greenery is even with the soil surface or just below it (don’t plant too deep). Replace the earth in the hole, tamping it down as you go. I always leave a shallow impression around the plant so that water can gather in it when the daylily is first planted. Thoroughly water the newly planted daylilies. When first planted, it is good to keep the daylilies watered until they establish themselves.

Daylilies will last a long time. There are a few ways to keep track of the varieties planted in your garden. 1) Use metal name tags and a permanent marker (or china marker) to write the variety name on the tag, placing the tag near the plant … 2) Draw a rough picture of the flower bed and note which daylilies are planted where in it … 3) Create a computer spreadsheet, listing the varieties planted and their characteristics and where they are located. I find it best to use a combination of the above methods. I tag the plants and also keep a diagram of how they are placed in the garden and make a note of the variety and when it was planted.

Care and Maintenance

Daylilies are easy to care for and don’t require a lot of attention. However, the plants will do best with some basic maintenance. I usually let rainfall take care of watering established plants. If there is a drought, or a water ban, occasionally I will water the daylilies using water collected from the dehumidifier in my basement. Some people might have rain barrels and use that water for the garden.

As the daylily blooms die, I remove them. It is simple to snap the dead flower head off the stalk. This is not a necessary step, but I find the daylilies will produce more blooms if the old ones are removed.

One reason I do not use a weed barrier when planting daylilies is that they multiply. At some point, it will be necessary to divide the plants into smaller clumps. I usually divide my plants in either the spring or early autumn.

If you separate the leaves of the plant to look at the plant base, you will see there are separate plants in the big clump. Dig the plant out so that you can see the roots. I wear garden gloves to gently remove the earth from the roots. By wiggling the plant sections back and forth, they will usually come free, though the roots will probably be entwined with each other. If needed, you can use a sharp garden spade to help separate the plants. As long as the smaller clumps contain some root, you are doing well. Once the smaller plants are separate from their “mother”, I replant the original daylily and relocate the babies to other areas. You can also share the young plants with friends. If sharing the plants, either place the plant in a bucket with some soil, or wrap newspaper around the root bundle. It is best to replant the “babies” as soon as possible so that the roots don’t dry out.

My daylilies have never been bothered by diseases or pests. We have deer in the area, and they have never bothered the plants.

If desired, mulch can be used around the daylilies, though I do not do this. However, prior to winter, I rake a layer of leaves in and around the plants to help protect them during the colder months. In the spring when the soil has warmed, I rake out the leaf mulch.

Daylilies come in an abundance of variety. The flowers are lovely, and the foliage lush. If you are looking for a perennial that will bring years of flowering beauty, definitely consider planting daylilies. These plants are easy to care for and are a rewarding garden experience.

Happy Gardening !

Dawn Lesley Stewart has enjoyed organic gardening for over forty years, learning at a young age from her father. First love is vegetable gardening followed by her interest in butterfly and bee habitats. She considers her yard a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. Her writing has appeared online and in print and has won writing awards. Dawn is the author of Harriet’s Horrible Hair Day (picture book), Mist-Seer (paranormal novel), and her newest book 300-Plus Quilting Tips, Tricks & Techniques features over 35 years of quilting knowledge.

Copyright 2010 Dawn Lesley Stewart

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Copyright 2000 Dawn Lesley Stewart