Daylilies: The Queen of Perennials
Daylilies can often feel like the miracle perennial. With very easy care, tolerance to almost all climates, and its extensive variety of colours and looks, it is easy to see why they are so highly praised! However, even the perfect perennial has its secrets and preferences. The first secret about Daylilies I didn’t know for the longest time. They are not a lily! That’s right, they actually aren’t even related! They are often lumped together or assumed to be related, due to the similarities of their blooms: the beautiful trumpet flowers with their deep throats. Don’t be fooled though, Lilies come from the family Lilium, but the Daylily comes from the family Hemerocallis. A shocking fact for most people, myself included. They differ in growth structure, root systems, and bloom times to name a few.
Daylilies are an international beauty. Born in Asia, they traveled around the world fast. Everyone wanted these beauteous blooms that seemed to thrive no matter the continent, surviving in zones 3 to zone 10. In Asia, Daylilies grow wild, even edible Daylilies were commonly used for medicine and food. Though in the wild the daylily is limited to only a few colours of orange, yellow, and dusty reds. But, thanks to the many hybridizers, we now have so many varieties with countless colours and textures! From frilled edges, double blooms, multi-coloured flowers, splotches, stripes, halos, large or small, there are so many options to choose from. Daylilies made their way to Europe around the 1500’s, decorating many gardens and becoming an instant must-have by numerous botanists who wished to study the curiously hardy plant. From there, they made their way to the Americas, soon establishing its title as the “Perfect Perennial”.
Daylilies are a plant that will “play nice” with most other plants in the flower bed, and offer a beautiful filler or centerpiece in any flower bed. Daylilies are easy to care for and they thrive best in sunlight. Though they can tolerate some shade, though more warmth and sunlight encourages a bountiful amount of blooms. As far as soils go daylilies are fairly tolerant. Though a well draining soil is almost always ideal, they will still thrive in heavier soils. However, with heavier soils you have to be careful not to over water Daylilies. They can take a beating, but they prefer to not be swimming all the time. When happy, daylilies can bloom for a month and sometimes longer. With the proper care and pruning certain daylilies, like the Stella D’Oro, can be encouraged to bloom a second time or sometimes for the majority of the season! In fall as the plant goes dormant you can cut down its stocks and blades, cleaning up the dead growth and preparing it for next year. Daylilies are also a favourite for their ability to be divided. You buy one plant, but a couple years down the road – you can have multiple! When autumn is just creeping in and the threat of frost is still a ways off you can divide your daylily: just be mindful of splitting the roots evenly and gently.
Personally, I love Daylilies. They are hardy, beautiful, and quite simply show the wonderful work of God and His creativity. We are so blessed with all the colour and beauty in this world.