Daylilies Work Landscape Color Wonders

Thirty years ago, when my garden was begun, the first perennial planted in it was a clump of Lemon Lilies, Hemerocallis flava, taken from my grandmother’s childhood home.
Some, planted near a pool, delighted me with their fragrance and light lemon color so effective with the various types of iris, Oriental poppies and lavender and purple Hesperis or Sweet Rocket.

My one regret was that daylilies did not bloom all summer. Then, I came upon an article in the Ladies’ Home Journal and was pleased to learn of new varieties with different colors and periods of bloom.

A little later, in a classified column of a leading garden magazine, I found an advertisement and after some deliberation placed an order. It was the best investment I ever made. It started me down a path which has led me to wider horizons.
Daylilies Hybrid pinks


For one reason or another, my garden developed voids or empty spots. A mass planting of Madonna lilies and Hybrid delphiniums had failed; beds of hybrid tea roses had become another cherished memory; a pool had sprung leaks and been discontinued.

In seeking to fill these and other voids left by the passing of the riotous bloom of spring, I wanted to get something enduring and not too demanding of time and energy as the years advanced. By the end of my first year with daylilies, I felt sure I had found the very plant I needed.

Daylilies – Ease of Culture

One of the most appealing traits of daylilies is their ease of culture. I found that they would grow and bloom in shade if it were not too dense nor too near tree roots but that they do better in sun part of the day and really enjoy a place in full sun.

They do not insist on a certain type soil but will reward one richly for plenty of moisture and nourishment, especially during the blooming period. Those of dark red colors have a richer tone when grown in a slightly acid soil and will hold their color better if given afternoon shade.

There is a suitable variety for every garden condition and it is a test of the good gardener to find it. Daylilies are lovely planted near pools and ponds where their yellow stars are reflected in water, but they do not want their feet in water as do Japanese iris.

One of the most arresting sights I have ever seen was a commercial planting of light blue Japanese iris and yellow hemerocallis in alternate rows. I toyed with the idea of planting such a combination but gave it up for mine is a limestone country and my garden is too sharply drained for that type iris.

Daylilies fit a greater variety of conditions than any other perennial and no perennial has fewer insect or disease enemies.

With this flower there are no weekly dusting and spraying programs; no root rot or borer to take the joy out of life; no blackspot, mildew, aphids or red spider to combat.

While there is a thrips now known to affect a few varieties, the trouble is as yet rare and easily controlled with Malathion or Neem oil as an insecticide.

Daylilies are hardy and once planted may remain in the same place for many years. As long as they continue to bloom well, there is no need to divide and reset them.

They do not need to be dug and stored each fall to be replanted each spring and neither do they have to be staked.

Newer ones do not have the itching feet of the old roadside lily and one need have little fear that they will usurp too much space.

Hemerocallis have two general types of foliage, evergreen and deciduous. The evergreen type is preferred in southern gardens since it furnishes a desirable mound of green foliage all through the year.

In northern gardens, the evergreen foliage disappears after hard, freezing weather and reappears with the warmth of spring days. In snowbound sections, such plants are usually hardy but along the border line of hardiness, where there’s alternate freezing and thawing, there may be some occasional losses. In these sections, the deciduous type is to be preferred.

Southern breeders of daylilies confine themselves almost wholly to the evergreen type while northern breeders work mostly with the deciduous. Some, however, produce both types for the flowers of one type are as good as the other and some very fine ones have been produced by crossing the two.

Amazingly Versatile

Daylilies are amazingly versatile. There are tall ones for the back of the border to keep company with hollyhocks, delphiniums and foxgloves. There are dwarfs for the front of the border and rock garden and almost any in-between height imaginable.

There are sizes of flowers to suit every taste from 2-inch imps to 8-inch monsters. There is a wide variety in the form and shape of flowers, some broad and flaring, some trumpet shaped, others with recurved petals or a spidery effect.

Whereas the older daylilies were yellow or fulvous toned, now there are many different colors and combinations of color. There are creamy yellows, lemons, apricots and golds ; peach, pastel salmon, baby pinks; scarlet, cherry, crimson and maroon reds; orange, tan and velvety browns; vermilion, mahogany and deep, rich purple reds.

In many there is a diversity of pattern. Some have solid colors, called selfs, others may have a deepening of the color just above the throat varying from light yellow to orange or greenish yellow.

Bicolors, with sepals in some shade of yellow and petals red, light pink or deep maroon, are very interesting. The fact is that there are all colors of the rainbow to choose from except white and blue and these may be available soon for there are now some very light yellows and pale lavenders.
Red Volunter Daylily via Flickr
Variety in season of bloom is wide. Some begin to bloom along with tulips, others come along as these are finished so that there can be a continuous parade of blooms during the whole season.

Daylilies are warm weather flowers, yet they can furnish the garden with color and drama for a six-month period-longer than even the iris in this section of Indiana.

Except for the earliest, most varieties will bloom for a month and others for six weeks. Newer ones are setting records of up to 138 days of continuous bloom and some breeders have developed a line of everbloomers.

Such varieties produce new stalks at intervals all season. Among the older ones there are several which have this everblooming tendency and it is from them that the new everbloomers are being developed.

Time of opening and closing varies widely in hemerocallis. Some may open with the first streak of dawn and still be open when the sun has gone to rest. These characteristics are noted in the daylily catalog’s.

Others open in late afternoon and become the queens of the evening garden. There are some so accommodating that they can be arranged in the daytime and still be good for the evening.

Companion Plants

Since there is such a wide variety of color, height, form and season of bloom, a daylily can be found for any need that arises and one or another combines well with all types of perennials.


They are fine interplanted with Oriental poppies as their foliage hides that of the poppies as it matures. For the same reason, they are good interplanted with various spring bulbs.

Possibilities for lovely garden pictures are limitless if one will keep in mind basic color rules. Pale yellow varieties fit in with anything and should be the ones to start with.

Orange tones should be used carefully and at some distance from any but the lightest pink. White phlox are lovely with the various red daylily tones. Since all “hems” have some yellow in their flowers, they combine well with one another with the exception of the orange and the pinkish-toned varieties.

VM Richards

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