We’ll teach you how to grow daylilies for mere pennies!
If you are a person who loves flowers, we can help you.
If you want beautiful daylilies without spending the rent money, please keep reading.
But if you have money to burn and think nothing of spending obscene amounts of money on flowers…
we’re not the site for you.
Remember, it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay for it!
I’m kind of busy and don’t have time to read all this.
If you have limited internet usage time and prefer to lay in bed to read (as do I)
I would like to suggest an absolute must read for you.
An Illustrated Guide to Daylilies” by The American Hemerocallis Society is a 112 page booklet
absolutely packed with everything you need to know about daylilies. Everything you could ask about lilies
is covered, and well worthy of having. I’ve read it front to back and still find myself reading it again and again.
I was most pleased to discover a poem by Rod McKuen gracing the pages of this guide,
as Rod McKuen is one of my favorite poets since high school.
I still have in my possession ‘Come to me in silence’ which was never returned to the school library.
Perhaps it’s time to pay that overdue fine?
Any other good daylily book suggestions?
Gracing the shelf of my daylily library is yet another good book which I love,
“The Gardener’s Guide to Growing Daylilies” by Diana Grenfell. A great coffee table book!
I appreciate that Diana has included and covered well the early history and botany of lilies,
with special thanks for the species coverage. Too many have forgotten the species and focused on hybrids in my humble opinion.
If you seek additional information about the species, Dr. Joseph C. Halinar of the Cascade Bulb and Seed Company indeed knows of what he speaks.
Be sure to read some of his articles!
John P. Peat and Ted L. Petit have produced two books which reside in my library. “The Daylily – A Guide for Gardeners” was released in 2004 and is a beautiful coffee table book! “The Color Encyclopedia of Daylilies” is yet another beauty, full of gorgeous full color photos to leave you breathless.
What is a daylily?
D-A-Y-L-I-L-Y is not missing an extra L. It only has one in the end. Just wanted to mention that because
I once thought the same.
“Jeez”, I thought, “if you sell these things you should at least spell them right.”
Boy, was I wrong! Daylily is a combination of two Greek words meaning ‘beauty’ and ‘day’ which refer to the flowers only lasting one day.
Ah, but fear not. While each flower may only last one day, an established plant will put off many wonderful blooms
over a period of time, resulting in what seems to be a never-ending shower of flowers!
Though it is a member of the lily family, a daylily is not the same as a standard lily
such as those one might see around Easter, selling as “Easter Lilies”.
Daylilies are perennial plants, meaning they return each year thanks to the long, skinny finger-like roots
growing underground. Some daylilies produce foliage which remains on the plant at all times, some feature
foliage which dies back, some have foliage that dies back partially, and more!
You can read more about foliage further below.
I’ve seen orange and yellow lilies in the ditch. They seem rather bland to me.
‘Ditch lilies’ are a term given to the common orange and yellow daylilies one might
see in a, well, a ditch, growing along roadsides, etc. Often unattended to, growing wild in bunches.
Many folks discard the ditch lily as a raggedy weed, but this old flower deserves a special spot.
After all, were it not for the common lilies, what would have led us to the beautiful hybrids of today?
One can speak poorly of the ditch lily, but it is due respect.
I have devoted quite a good sized plot on the other side of our property for these lilies.
Can I plant the seeds that grow on a daylily?
Yes, you can, and with ease. You might get some amazing colors and ruffles, perhaps some with eye-like designs
and a multitude of beautiful flowers, but you might not see a replica of the flower you originally grew.
To understand this, you must understand a bit about pollination and ploidy first, then we’ll teach you how to
grow seeds from scratch a little later. Don’t worry, it’s easy!
Why do some seed packages only contain four to five seeds?
Some daylilies are very bountiful when it comes to producing seeds, while some are rather shy about it.
There may be as few as one good seed in a pod or quite a few, you never know until that little green pod dries out
and opens up.
What the heck is a ploidy?
Daylilies contain a certain number of chromosomes; which will carry it’s genetics.
A DIPLOID daylily contains 22 chromosomes, TRIPLOIDS have 33, while a TETRAPLOID contains 44.
The additional chromosomes allow for extreme differences such as curled edges and other amazing attributes.
There even exist alkaloids from a crocus plant which enable manipulation of these chromosome factors.
What is hybridizing? Can I do it?
Anyone can hybridize, even a five year old can do this simple procedure.
The general idea behind hybridizing is to create new and differing colors, petal shapes and more.
Some hybridizers take this event quite seriously, working to create new cultivars which are able to endure
colder temperatures, produce more flowers, etc.
Let’s say you have a tall, very strong plant and another plant which puts off a bouquet of blooms.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have both?
Mating these two plants could produce a tall plant with more blooms!
How do I hybridize a daylily?
Hybridizing is the act of combining pollen from one plant with the pod of another plant.
This is actually referred to as ‘pollinating’.
First you will need to establish your ploidy. Above we discussed what ‘ploidy’ meant, so it should be
understood that for the beginner, you will need to ensure you are mating a dip with a dip or a tet with a tet.
Once you’ve established that, the rest is pure fun!
Choose the two lilies you have in mind to mate. Each lily will have six long ‘sticks’ emerging from it’s throat.
These ‘sticks’ are actually called stamens. You will also see a longer ‘stick’ which appears to have been cut at the ends.
This is the pistil. Simply put your fingers into the bloom, removing one stamen. Can you use tweezers? By all means!
Do this in whatever way is easiest for you.
It’s not rocket science by any means and is quite fun, actually.
Don’t worry about how long the stamen is, just be sure the tip of it has a pollen-covered anther. The anther is
the little pad-like object on the ends covered in what should be fluffy pollen, or powdery yellow stuff, as my son refers to it.
The length of the stamen does not matter, it’s just that if you get it long
enough it is easier to work with when holding in your fingers. Take this pollen to the other daylily you have in mind, and dab the pistil with the pollen. That’s it. No kidding. It’s that easy. Early morning and cool days are good pollinating periods. I love going out in the morning with coffee to pollinate, but inevitably find myself setting that cup down and getting to work making babies.
Inexpensive string tags (similar to the price tags found at flea markets) are of great use in the garden. Because they won’t be on the plant too very long, the paper tags should work just fine. Be sure to use a pencil when marking the names of the pod parent (first) x the pollen parent (second). For example, if you take the pollen from a Russian Rhapsody and dab it on the pistil of Forty Carats, your tag should read: Forty Carats x Russian Rhapsody. An easy way to remember this rule is the plant that stayed put goes first. The pollen traveled, not the plant. Be sure not to snap the bloom off when tying your tag onto the stem right below the blossom. Tie firmly but not so tight as to choke or sever it from the plant.
If your pollination worked, your flower will fall off in a few days and a small green bump will appear where the flower was connected. Pretty soon it will enlarge and you will be so excited! Keep an eye on this pod so it doesn’t dry, crack open and spill your efforts. Typically within 40-60 days after pollination, you can collect your seeds. Some folks like to immediately plant their seeds upon harvest. If you decide to wait until another time, simply allow the seeds to dry for a couple weeks, then put them into the refrigerator. I use little ziploc baggies labeled with the names of the parents and keep them in the top shelf in the refrigerator in a plastic organizer.
Dip and Tet? What the heck is that?
Dip is short for DIPLOID and Tet is short for Tetraploid. You will often see daylilies referred to as DIPS or TETS.
Look up above under “What the heck is a ploidy” for more details.
Where should I plant them?
While daylilies prefer full sun, you must keep in mind the zone you live in.
What might be fine in the full Northeastern Oklahoma sunshine here may not be agreeable to the extreme
temperatures in Phoenix, Arizona. It gets pretty warm here during our long season, and I’ll simply say that the
lilies in full sun are pretty much done in their glory, while those in partial sun are still putting on the ritz.
Red and purple daylilies also benefit from partial shade as their colors tend to bleed, fade and otherwise not
look as beautiful when subjected to 24 hour sun.
Diseases & Pests of the Daylily
Thankfully I have had no experience with diseases or pests, though our soil contains quite a few grub worms.
As I find them, I squish them and place them back into the soil for recycling purposes.
Please note, this is performed with gloves on, though I must stress that if you squish these big worms, it’s best to look away while doing so.
How do I know which daylily I have?
As there are so many thousands upon tens of thousands of daylilies registered, one doesn’t just look at a lily,
look in a book and decide what you’ve grown. Sure, it’s a daylily, and no doubt it is beautiful,
but without recorded parentage or a registered cultivar name assigned, you have……a daylily.
Cosmetically speaking, you may have a daylily which could easily hold a candle to a fancy $50.00 lily, but if making big
bucks is your goal in growing daylilies, I’m not the site to help you. I’m in this for the fun, and sales of my
excess help to pay for, quite frankly, my gardening habits and an occasional pizza order delivered for the family. 🙂
If a specific daylily has been registered with the American Hemerocallis Society, it will be listed in
the reference guide Eureka puts out each year. Previous issues may contain a lily you may not find in the current issue.
This handy reference guide contains beautiful colored pictures and the information about MANY daylilies.
Please note it is not necessary to own this guide to grow lilies, but
if you are interested in seeing (and in vivid color!) the extent hybridizing has reached,
this book is a wonderful resource.
The Eureka Daylily Reference Guide provides the following information about each daylily:
Year of registration
Height the stalk typically reaches
Time of year the daylily will bloom (some bloom early, some late, some mid summer, late summer, etc.)
Size of the bloom
Color and / or patterns such as eyes
The type of foliage (whether it goes dormant in the winter or not)
Ploidy (remember, this is ‘Dip’ or ‘Tet’)
Whether your daylily is fragrant (some have no smell, some smell like heaven must!)
Nocturnal habits, if any (some bloom at night)
Whether it blooms for an extended period of time
Whether it is single, double, spider form, unusual, polytepal, etc.
The guide also lists the names and addresses of gardens selling the advertised lilies.
Keep in mind that while this guide is indeed well worthy of having, the gardens within are paid advertisements.
There are literally thousands upon thousands of daylily gardens in the United States alone.
Also note that while there are simply amazing lilies in this guide, it does not contain the names of
every lily ever registered. The guide would be enormous in size, and so you might refer to previous issues
of the guide if you cannot locate certain cultivars. The lilies listed for sale are also via paid advertisement,
and not the only source of lilies available. Prices are listed next to each cultivar for easy shopping. Many
gardens have wonderful prices, and because Eureka lists them all, you can simply scan the list for a price
you are willing to pay and then contact the person to see if it is available.
How to shop for daylilies
So you’ve received your first garden product catalog in the mail and now you are excited!
You feel that tingle, your heart rate increases and you MUST have the newest daylily!
Okay, okay, settle down. First, let me admit that daylilies are gorgeous. Addictive. And can be very costly.
PLEASE don’t impulse buy daylilies. Yes, that picture sure is pretty and surely no one in your neighborhood
will have it, but did you research it? That darling daylily may turn out to have some knockout blooms, but
how tall is it? How big is the bloom? Will it be overlooked because it is so tiny in your garden?
Is it a dormant lily? Will it die back in the winter, be forgotten and tilled? Can it survive in your zone?
For the purpose of this topic, I refer you to the wonderful Color Encyclopedia of Daylilies by Ted L. Petit and John P. Peat.
These guys really know their lilies and have produced a stunning color book well worthy of your coffee table!
This book truly deserves a spot in a library for anyone who wants to learn more about daylilies.
Don’t forget to order your copy of their latest book entitled “The Daylily: A Guide for Gardeners”.
Note that even if you have been growing lilies for years, you should still enjoy this new book.
As you flip through the pages of catalogs, you may recognize what you think are lilies you already have. This is where
you really have to do your homework. Let’s take Clothed in Glory for example. While I know it is Clothed in Glory,
who else does? Several other lilies have very similiar features. Perhaps a little lighter in color, perhaps an edge
with a little more ruffle, but yet very much like Clothed in Glory. The price for these visually comparable lilies can
range quite a bit. In pricing look-a-likes for the Clothed in Glory; which runs the average of about $46.66, I found
both higher and lower prices. Purchase what appeals to you, but try not to go overboard. After all, who visits your
garden? Family? Friends? And who, other than daylily officianados – would know whether you paid ten dollars or a hundred, and honestly, is that so important? If you seek bragging rights, by all means, shell out the cash. On the other hand, truly you would not want to be sold a nice lily and told a lie, having been sold something out of the potpourri batch for half your paycheck! Do your homework. Shop around. Look and learn, but don’t buy on impulse.
And my opinion in a nutshell? Buy from Mom and Pop operations. I say this not because we are one as well, but because I know first hand the time, money and energy put into plants on a small farm. We don’t have a flock of underpaid workers on our farm, folks, and no one to blame if things go wrong.
$$$ But, but, but. Daylilies sound expensive! $$$
Daylilies are only expensive if you buy the expensive daylilies!
If you just want flowers and you don’t give a piece of cheese what it’s name is, you’re in luck!
Often you can find daylilies on Ebay for as low as $1.00 each. You could fill a farm for a small amount of cash.
You won’t get the fancy schmancy names, but if you just want flower power, you’ll surely get it. Be sure to
remember that typically, a daylily won’t flower in it’s first year. Well worth the wait!
Though many fuss and complain about plant size upon receipt, it is my belief that you should ask questions ahead of time. Not all plants are the same size. While ‘Green Flutter’ can become a good sized plant, a ‘Razzmatazz’ of the same age may not be as tall, as thick, or as sturdy. Ask questions. Even on Ebay there is an “Ask seller a question” feature. Use it. Don’t assume you are going to receive two year old big plants. If instant impact is your desire, then do your homework! Be careful, but don’t be overly suspicious of everyone, for Pete’s sake. Check their feedback. Visit their website if they have one. Here’s a perfect example. Joe Common comes along selling high dollar daylilies for just a few dollars. Mr. Suspicious comes along and bids. He may very well receive the actual named cultivars, but they are seedlings he pulled from the parent plant which are only a few months old. Looks like you got a heck of a bargain, you just have to wait a year or two to see a display. And the plants are tiny. But did you ask? Or just assume? Don’t jump to negative opinions about a seller, and certainly don’t blast them on internet chat boards. Until you’ve been burned by someone you have no justification for such behavior based on your opinion alone,
especially if the seller refunded your money or made things right.
A good site to visit to review other opinions is Garden Watchdog.
Be sure to note the number of reviews, and then read them. Be an informed buyer.
You might also visit a chat board online to see if any other folks wish to trade seeds, seedlings, or plants.
A wonderful place to visit is Dave’s Garden. A great resource for information on plants,
and not just daylilies, but everything you could possibly grow. You will learn a ton of things about gardening on the boards, and guess what? Most of the people on the boards are normal folks just like us! You may find a friend you learn a lot about and soon you’ll be trading offspring. Plant offspring, that is!
This is a very inexpensive way to gain additional daylilies for your collections at a very low price! Seedlings are fantastic trades and ship for very little cost.
I wish I knew the name of the lady who sent me seedlings once upon a time. I planted the poor thing, never paid much attention to it, and pretty soon I had hundreds of them which now grace the circle drive here at our home! Thank you, lady, whoever you are!
Okay, I’ve looked at dozens of books, and many daylilies look the same!
Indeed they do. Many of the latest and greatest cultivars offer something new, something different.
But because it is so easy to hybridize and grow daylilies, given a few guidelines anyone can register a daylily,
thus the market is absolutely flooded with similar flowers. This is where you really need to shop around
and definitely compare pictures, heights, bloom size, etc.
If someone offers a free catalog, order it. You’ll soon see why it’s best to price compare.
What is a daylily award?
With so many people hybridizing, producing and registering hybrid daylilies, looking through a catalog
of daylily pictures will show you many which simply look very similar. Thankfully, there are awards given by
The American Hemerocallis Society for daylilies that stand out above all the rest.
The United States National Arboretum has excellent links to view beautiful photos of many of these award winners:
Daylily Photo Gallery Introduction
A-C * D-G * H-L * M-P * Q-Si * Sk-Z
Color Class Lists:
Cream -White -Melon * “Eyed” * Pink – Rose * Purple – Lavender * Red – Orange * Yellow – Gold
Fischer * Lenington * Marsh * Ida Munson * Olson * Peck * Plouf * Stevens * Stout
Marking and labeling your plants
If you purchase a named cultivar, you are more than welcome to toss the wrapper into the trash
and forever forget what someone named it. However, it would be a very good idea to keep a record in some
manner to indicate which one it was. You will most likely be bitten by the ‘daylily bug’ and wish you had recorded
this information. It’s best to start with, and continue, the habit of keeping track. This will also help you to do
your homework if you ever decide to hybridize your own, which I hope you will. You’ll want this information later
to determine which is dip, tet, etc. (Remember? 🙂 You can use many differing methods to mark your lilies.
I use a combination of items to label mine
but am very pleased with the metal stakes I purchased from Paw Paw Everlast Label Company.
I use a Dymo label maker
(remember the old black hand held clickety-click things that embossed everything you owned back in the 70’s?)
Well, yes, it’s a bit primitive and you’re welcome to purchase a handy dandy electronic gadget to do it for you,
but hey, the Dymo was handy and it was cheap, not to mention the labels don’t fade in the sun, last for years and years
and costs mere pennies, it works just fine for me.
Another idea (if your hubby has junk piles like mine) is to cut lengths of PVC pipe, attach a Dymo label and you’ve
got yourself a load of inexpensive markers.
Plastic horizontal blinds and a grease pencil work well, but you’ll need to push the marker into the soil so it does not break off, thus leaving you with an unidentified lily.
I’ve had daylilies for years, but now they don’t bloom like they used to!
Ah, you may need to divide them. Grab a shovel and visit this link for loads for good advice!
Can I eat them?
YES! You can eat daylilies! Lay a clean, freshly rinsed daylily bloom in your soup! In your salad!
Be sure to tell your guests YES, you can eat the flower! Make sure you haven’t sprayed your lily with any insecticides, though.
Here’s a fun recipe for candied flowers:
One egg white (also available in powdered form for those worried about Salmonella)
100 proof vodka
Superfine sugar (try the granulated superfine sugars!)
Small craft paintbrush
Fresh, clean daylilies
Beat the egg whites until they turn fluffy. Add a few of drops of vodka – this helps to dry the flowers faster.
Paint the lilies with this mixture and then sprinkle sugar onto the flower. Set on a wire rack to dry.
They will become very stiff, but are delicate. You can store them in a Tupperware container
and even toss them (gently) into the freezer for up to one year.
The perfect touch to the top of the cake you worked so hard to bake!
For a special summer treat in the fall or winter when daylilies may not be blooming, freeze daylily blooms
in ice cube trays. Try to get a beautiful variety of colors. Beautiful conversation pieces at best!
They aren’t just a sweet treat! Try wrapping a few blooms in foil with your fish!
Here’s a Joan Senior with hubby’s supper. I wasn’t going to sacrifice my Lullaby Baby for this:
Can I use daylilies as cut flowers?
Yes. In fact, if you cut a stalk of daylilies with both open and unopened blooms, you’ll have a bouquet
to last for many days! Just remove the spent flowers each morning to keep your bouquet looking lovely.
Be sure to replace the water every other day with fresh water!
I typed ‘Daylily’ in the searchbox at Google and there were 282,000 hits. Now what???
First, you must realize that daylilies are one of the absolute easiest and hardiest perennials to grow.
They are hard to kill unless you actually try, and so the internet world is awash with plenty of folks wishing to share their experiences. Some realize how quickly they propagate and wish to sell them, some want to assist in educating others so they don’t make the same mistakes (like myself) they did when first introduced to daylilies. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of having a unique flower. This is why I stress it is much more rewarding to pollinate your own, and in doing so, you don’t have to spend the kids’ college funds. You can often find smaller gardens, or as some might try to inflict a tone of ‘lower class’, calling them ‘backyard gardeners’. I fully support small business owners trying to make it on their own! Many nurseries sell the exact same lilies for an incredible price difference. Last year I purchased quite a few lilies from a particular lady only to find they were three, four and five times higher in the gardens listed in a daylily guide and plant catalogs I received in the mail. Shop around!
What on earth is a ‘proliferation’?
A proliferation is, to make things easy, a mutant! Sometimes a smaller plant grows from the flower stalk.
This is a plus in some ways, and considered a deformity in hoity toity gardens.
In my opinion, this is a bonus plant, enjoy it!
You can simply cut the proliferation off, leaving a bit of stem, press it into a pot just as you would a small plant, and care for it. I prefer to dip the prolif in a bit of rooting hormone; which is available at most stores. Ask for Rootone and someone will most likely know what you are referring to. After planting, soon it will develop a root system and you can plant it as normal.
My neighbor paid over $100.00 for a daylily and the deer ate it.
Yep, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. If you live where deer are, don’t be surprised to find them in
your garden having a buffet one morning. Plan on this. Expect it. And don’t hit the roof if it does happen.
One might reconsider the amount of money they are putting into lilies only to present them to Mother Nature.
After planting my seeds, I found an albino growing!
Sadly, I have yet to see an ‘albino’ daylily survive. If you plant enough seeds you will find this is a common sight. I allow the white seedling to run it’s course, pass on and then receive proper burial.
I keep seeing the term ’tissue cultured’. What is that?
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