- Type Herbaceous flower
- Lifespan Long-lived perennial
- USDA Zones 3-10
- Light Full sun
- Soil Well drained
- When to Plant Divide in fall
- Design Tip Cheery accent
- Companions Salvia, yarrow
- Peak Season Summer
Daylily: A Field Guide
What characteristics make a daylily the perfect perennial?
For generations, gardeners have reported that these hardy flowers “were easy to grow, made an impressive showing, lived practically forever with almost no care, and were free of disease and insects,” wrote authors (and longtime gardeners) Lewis and Nancy Hill in their book Daylilies: The Perfect Perennial, which nearly three decades after publication remains the home gardener’s most trusted guide to growing and caring for Hemerocallis.
Though their flowers have a similar shape and size, don’t confuse daylilies with lilies (which belong to the Lilium genus—and an entirely different horticultural family). A daylily flower blooms only for 24 hours or so. There may be as many as three dozen buds on a daylily’s leafless stem (which is known as a scape), which keeps every flowering clump in bloom for weeks in summer. After all a stem’s flowers wilt, cut it back to the base of the plant—but leave green foliage in place until it yellows at the end of the season.
Daylilies can solve many problems in a flower bed: they can add color after other perennials fizzle; fill holes in the border with a spray of graceful, arching leave; and stabilize soil to prevent erosion on a slope.
Thanks to active hybridizers, in recent decades thousands of new daylily cultivars have been introduced in a dizzying array of colors, shapes, and textures: from frilly to ruffled, there is a daylily for you. No longer limited to bright orange, rusty red, or caution-yellow, some of our favorite cultivars include ‘Stella de Oro’ (with cheery sunshine-yellow flowers); ‘‘Autumn Minaret’ (an unusually tall variety, suitable for the back of a flower border), and ‘Dixie Hummingbird’ (with soft peach flowers). For collectors of heirloom varieties and garden antiques, ‘Lemon Lily’ (Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus) dates to 1570 and has a light scent reminiscent of tuberose.
Note: For more about lilies, see Everything You Need to Know About Lilies.