The botanical name Hemerocallis is derived from a Greek word meaning “beautiful for a day.” Individual flowers last only a single day, with new buds opening daily. Stalks bear flowers for several weeks.
My first memory of lilies is the “ditch lily or tiger lily.” Have you ever noticed the bright orange flower along roadsides or at an old farmstead? Obviously, a hardy survivor after years of abandon! This is simply more proof of day lilies being easy to grow. The modern hybrid varieties are vastly improved and have more shapes and colors available. Some varieties are ruffled, others have double layers of petals. Still others have spidery looking blossoms, some are large and some are small giving the grower many choices in addition to color.
Day lily foliage in itself, adds a visual effect in your garden for the entire growing season. Bright green strap-like leaves arch from the crown of the plant and form a graceful mound.
Plantings should be made in full sun or partial shade. Loamy soil is ideal, but they can adapt to a variety of soil types. Good drainage is important. Fertilizer should be used sparingly unless you are planting in poor soil types. Use a 0-20-20 or 5-20-20; 1 or 2 tablespoons can be applied around plants in early spring.
Place the crowns about 1 inch deep, spreading out roots into the soil. Gently firm the soil and water thoroughly. Plantings should be spaced 1-2 feet apart. Water the newly planted day lilies regularly, to ensure good root growth.
I mentioned little maintenance. Because of their heavy blooming nature, dead heading or removing spent blossoms is desirable to keep plants looking fresh and healthy. I don’t mind this duty; it’s another chance to admire and enjoy the beauty of mid-June mornings! To continue enjoying the mounded foliage of your plants, remove the stalks when they start to dry and turn brown.
Gerri Lyon is a Master Gardener intern.