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How to grow daylilies – Hemerocallis 'Ruby Spider'

How to grow daylilies

All you need to know about growing daylilies (hemerocallis), in this detailed Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Divide
Divide

Do not Divide in January

Do not Divide in February

Do Divide in March

Do Divide in April

Do not Divide in May

Do not Divide in June

Do not Divide in July

Do not Divide in August

Do not Divide in September

Do Divide in October

Do Divide in November

Do not Divide in December

Cut back
Cut back

Do not Cut back in January

Do not Cut back in February

Do not Cut back in March

Do not Cut back in April

Do not Cut back in May

Do not Cut back in June

Do not Cut back in July

Do not Cut back in August

Do not Cut back in September

Do Cut back in October

Do not Cut back in November

Do not Cut back in December

Daylilies (hemerocallis) are attractive perennials with exotic lily-like, trumpet blooms. The Greek word ‘hemerocallis’ means ‘beautiful for one day’, and the plants are so-named as the individual blooms last only for one day. However they are quickly replaced by colourful new flowers, giving a good display in summer and into autumn.

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Daylilies are tough and easy to grow. They will grow on most soils, are low maintenance, untroubled by most pests and diseases, and don’t need staking. While they prefer moisture, they are also drought tolerant. They are ideal for sunny borders and the foliage is often evergreen in milder locations. They are often grown near spring bulbs, as their leaves can help cover unsightly bulb leaves as they die back. They also make good ground cover plants on slopes, as they have dense roots which holds the soil together.

There are thousands of daylilies to choose from in a range of colours, from white through yellow to deep red and burgundy. They look especially good in borders with a ‘hot’ colour theme and combine well with other perennials such as heleniums, geums, rudbeckias and bronze fennel. They also look good with exotic-looking plants such as bananas, ginger lilies and cannas . Some varieties are scented. The flowers are attractive to native insects, particularly hoverflies and ladybirds, and they make good cut flowers if cut in bud.

Daylilies have an added advantage of being unaffected by lily beetles, which can decimate the foliage of other lilies, including Lilium, Cardiocrinum and Fritillaria species.

And, if you’re willing to try, some hemerocallis varieties are considered to be an edible delicacy – fried or added to salads.

All parts of the plant are toxic to cats if ingested. 

How to grow daylilies

Daylilies are tough and thrive in a variety of soils, including clay. The best growing conditions for hemerocallis are moist, fertile and well-drained soils in full sun. Smaller varieties can also be grown in containers. Divide plants every few years to keep them growing strongly.

More on growing daylilies:

Daylilies: jump links


Where to grow daylilies

How to grow daylilies – daylily and bronze fennel
How to grow daylilies – daylily and bronze fennel

Daylilies are not fussy about soil type, but for best results grow daylilies in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun for at least six hours a day.


How to plant daylilies

Daylilies are sold as container grown plants that can be planted in spring and summer, but are as bare root plants (sold online or in packets at the garden centre – often with bulbs) that can be planted in winter, from November to March.

When planting a container-grown plant, add plenty of organic matter (such as garden compost or well rotted manure) at the base of the planting hole. Ensure that the crown (base of the plant) is level with the top of the soil.

Bareroot daylilies need to be planted into pots filled with multipurpose compost, and grown on in a cold greenhouse or cold frame. When they have grown plenty of leaves after a couple of months, they can be planted out in the garden.

Smaller daylily varieties grow well in pots filled with multipurpose compost.

Watch Monty Don planting daylilies:


How to care for daylilies

How to grow daylilies – daylily and golden sedge
How to grow daylilies – daylily and golden sedge

Mulch clumps of daylilies every spring, with well rotted manure or garden compost. This will keep moisture in the soil.

Keep daylily plants well watered during dry spells but on’t feed them, as this will produce foliage at the expense of flowers. You can deadhead the spent flowers, but the seedpods are attractive in their own right. You can cut the whole plant back in autumn but if it doesn’t look too messy, wait until spring as the leaves can shelter insects over winter.

Dividing your daylilies every three to five years will keep them flowering well and will give you new plants, too.


How to propagate daylilies

How to grow daylilies – dividing a clump of daylilies with a saw
How to grow daylilies – dividing a clump of daylilies with a saw

Daylilies are easily propagated by dividing them in spring or autumn. This keeps them growing well and has the add benefit of creating new plants that you can replant in the garden or give away. You can divide them with two forks, or a saw or sharp knife.

Here Carol Klein explains how to lift and divide daylilies:


Hemerocallis: problem-solving

Daylilies are usually trouble-free to grow. New shoots are susceptible to slugs and snails but they rarely affect the plant badly.

Hemerocallis gall midge is a relatively new pest that can affect early-flowering varieties. Swollen flower buds may fail to open, or the flowers may be distorted. Pick off any distorted buds and bin them – do not add to the compost heap.

Poor flowering may indicate that your plant needs dividing. It may also be a sign that it’s growing in too much shade.


Advice on buying daylilies (hemerocallis)

  • Daylilies are not fussy about soil type but they grow best in full sun, so make sure you have the right spot for them
  • You’ll find daylilies on sale at nurseries and garden centres in spring and summer, although the range of varieties may be limited. You’ll also find bare root plants on sale in the winter and spring, either in packets at the garden centre (where they’re often displayed with spring bulbs) or online. 
  • For the best range of varieties, buy from a specialist nursery or online retailer

Where to buy daylilies online

Daylilies to grow

1

Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus

Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus
Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus

The yellow daylily, Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus has warm yellow June flowers with a deliciously sweet fragrance and grassy foliage. Well-suited to herbaceous borders or dotting in wildflower meadows.

Height x Spread: 1m x 40cm

2

Hemerocallis ‘Red Twister’

Daylily 'Red Twister'
Daylily ‘Red Twister’

This fiery-flowered variety is the perfect daylily for a splash of late-summer colour, bearing fiery orange-red blooms with an orange-yellow throat and margins. Exotic looking, it’s the perfect choice for a tropical-themed ornamental border, along with rudbeckias and heleniums. It also looks fabulous in a pot. In milder regions its strap-like foliage is evergreen. 

H x S: 60cm x 45cm

3

Hemerocallis ‘Henry D Allnut’

Hemerocallis 'Henry D Allnutt'
Hemerocallis ‘Henry D Allnutt’

Introduced in 2014, ‘Henry D Allnutt’ is a hybrid of Hemerocallis ‘Dragon Pinata’ and H. ‘Redneck Riviera’. The flowers are pale orange with a dramatic flush or crimson in the centre.

H x S: 70cm x 50cm

4

Hemerocallis ‘Piano Man’

Hemerocallis ‘Piano Man’
Hemerocallis ‘Piano Man’

‘Piano Man’ has fragrant cream flowers with a plum eye and green throat. A particularly floriferous variety, it has masses of elegant blooms for weeks on end. In milder regions its strap-like foliage is evergreen, which is excellent for hiding unsightly spring bulbs after they’ve flowered. 

H x S: 60cm x 45cm

5

Hemerocallis ‘Bela Lugosi’

Hemerocallis 'Bela Lugosi'
Hemerocallis ‘Bela Lugosi’

Full of drama, ‘Bela Lugosi’ is a deep purple-flowered variety named after the Count Dracula actor. At the centre of the flowers is a rich yellow-green tone, providing contrast. This daylily is particularly free-flowering, especially in the morning.

H x S: 60cm x 45cm

6

Hemerocallis ‘Ruby Spider’

Hemerocallis 'Ruby Spider'
Hemerocallis ‘Ruby Spider’

Many daylily varieties are orange, but ‘Ruby Spider’ turns up the heat to deep scarlet. Each petal has an eye-catching yellow midrib. Exotic looking, it’s a great choice for a tropical-themed ornamental border, and looks fabulous in a pot. 

H x S: 80cm x 60cm

7

Hemerocallis ‘Fleeting Fancy’

Hemerocallis 'Fleeting Fancy'
Hemerocallis ‘Fleeting Fancy’

The large flowers of ‘Fleeting Fancy’ are a creamy orange, with a red-brown markings toward the centre. It combines well with pink- and purple-flowered plants like nepeta, agapanthus and hardy geraniums.

H x S: 50cm x 70cm

8

Hemerocallis ‘Joan Senior’

Hemerocallis 'Joan Senior'
Hemerocallis ‘Joan Senior’
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Hemerocallis ‘Joan Senior’ has soft cream flowers that mature to yellow. Early flowering, it’s extremely floriferous and easy to grow.

H x S: 75cm x 75cm
9

Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’

Hemerocallis 'Stafford'
Hemerocallis ‘Stafford’

While superficially similar to ‘Ruby Spider’, look closer and you’ll spot that the blooms of ‘Stafford’ have a more intense red colouration and lack the yellow midrib. Here, it’s paired with orange geums

H x S: 75cm x 45cm