How to Plant and Grow Daylily

Daylilies are a reliable and popular perennial that produces scores of colorful flowers in summer.

What began as a plant with simple yellow or red flowers has changed drastically through years of breeding. Today there are daylilies with yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, white, and peach-colored flowers, and with flowers in different shades and tints. More than just the color palette has expanded over the years. Daylilies vary in height and type of bloom, including the long, slender petals of spider-type daylilies and daylilies with ruffled double flowers. Many daylilies also boast a pleasant fragrance, especially varieties that bloom at night.

Daylily Overview

Genus Name Hemerocallis
Common Name Daylily
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 1 to 3 feet
Flower Color Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Fragrance, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Drought Tolerant

Where to Plant Daylilies

Daylilies can be planted in almost any location with full or partial sun. They can often be found growing along the side of the road (often called "ditch lilies"). To give them ideal growing conditions, plant them in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter and slightly acidic (pH between 6.0 and 6.5)

When planting daylilies, keep in mind that they multiply and form a thick mat of fleshy roots so make sure to give them room. Daylilies are especially attractive as mass plantings, in beds or along a fence, stone wall, or walkway. Whether you plant a single type or types with different bloom times, daylilies will add beauty and vibrancy to your garden.

How and When to Plant Daylilies 

Daylilies are sold as bareroot or potted plants. Bareroot daylilies are usually available for early spring planting whereas potted daylilies can be purchased all summer long and into the fall. The best time to plant them is in early fall.

The way to plant both bareroot and potted daylilies is the same. Dig a hole that is twice as wide and as deep as the root system. Place the container-grown plant in the hole and backfill with soil. To plant a bareroot daylily, make a mound in the center of the hole and fan out the roots over the mound, then backfill with soil. Add just enough soil so that the crown (where the roots and the stem meet) is just above the soil level and not buried. Water deeply and slowly and keep the plants well-watered during the first growing season. 

Spacing depends on the type, Small and medium-size daylilies should be planted about 18 inches apart whereas large types need to be spaced at least 2 feet apart.

Daylily Care Tips 


Daylilies prefer full sun but can tolerate part-sun conditions. Some varieties with showier blooms may wash out in full sun conditions and should be sited accordingly.

Soil and Water

With their thick, fleshy roots and vigorous growth habit, daylilies are able to tolerate many different soil conditions. Ideally, they're planted in well-drained soil with a decent amount of organic matter. Newly planted daylilies appreciate regular watering, especially when they're blooming. Good drainage is also important; when these plants stay too wet, their fleshy roots can rot. 

Temperature and Humidity

Daylilies can be grown in a wide range of climates; they are both winter-hardy in subzero weather as well as heat-tolerant of hot weather. They are also unbothered by high humidity and dry weather. 


If planted in fertile soil, daylilies don’t require more than annual fertilization with a slow-release balanced low-nitrogen fertilizer in the spring to boost their bloom.


During the growing season, for a neater appearance, remove yellow or dead leaves. Soon after the bloom is over, cut the flower stalk back to about 4 inches off the ground. This lets the plant spend all its energy into building reserves for winter survival and next year’s growth instead of developing seeds. However, do not remove the foliage until the time of the first frost—the foliage is needed so the plant can build said energy reserves. 

Potting and Repotting Daylily

To grow daylilies in pots, choose a container that has large drainage holes. To give the daylilies room to grow for at least a couple of years, the container should be at least 4 inches larger in diameter than the root ball of the plant. Plant the daylily slightly in a mix of potting mix and compost and on the deep side so that the top of the root ball sits ½ to 1 inch below the top of the pot. Keep in mind that unlike inground daylilies, container plants need frequent watering and a light fertilizer application about once a month to make up for the nutrients that are washed out. 

Monitor the growth of the roots in the second year and repot the daylily before its roots completely fill the pot (they might be difficult to remove). Choose a pot at least 4 inches larger in diameter and use fresh potting mix.

Pests and Problems

Daylilies are resistant to most pests and diseases, but a few do cause trouble. The daylily aphid, which is usually found during cool seasons and hides within the fans, feeds only on daylilies. Another common pest—the spider mite—is most active during hot, dry weather. Both types of insects can be somewhat controlled by blasting them off plants with a jet of water. Horticultural soaps and oils also can help control pests.

Daylilies are also plagued by daylily rust. This pesky fungus causes orange-yellow powdery spots that resemble rust to cover the undersides of the leaves and scapes (flower stalks without leaves). Prevent daylily rust by choosing disease-resistant varieties and spacing the plants so they get good airflow.

How to Propagate Daylily

Because they grow quickly, daylilies should be divided when necessary, which is also the best way to propagate them. Do this in the late fall after the growing season, or early spring before the growth cycle begins.

Dig up the daylily with its entire root system. Gently shake it to remove dirt from the roots and cut the roots into smaller sections. Discard any damaged or diseased roots and replant the section in a new location.

Types of Daylily

Today's breeders are focusing on developing new flower shapes and color markings and additional reblooming varieties for multi-season interest. 

Here is a selection of popular daylilies:

'Apple Tart' Daylily

Apple Tart daylily
Mike Moreland

Hemerocallis 'Apple Tart' is a repeat bloomer that opens in the late afternoon with single bright red flowers accented with yellow stripes. It grows up to 3 feet tall. Zones 3-9.

'Little Grapette' Daylily

Daylily Hemerocallis 'Little Grapette'
Peter Krumhardt

Hemerocallis 'Little Grapette' has single miniature flowers the color of grape juice with a greenish-yellow eye open in the late afternoon. This small variety only gets 18 inches tall. Zones 4-10.

'Bright Sunset' Daylily

daylily hemerocallis sunset bloom
Peter Krumhardt

Hemerocallis 'Bright Sunset' offers fragrant copper-orange flowers brushed with golden yellow. Zones 3-9.

'Catherine Woodbury' Daylily

light pink 'Catherine Woodbury' Daylily Hemerocallis
Matthew Benson

Hemerocallis 'Catherine Woodbury' is a classic with fragrant large flowers of clear pale pink. This daylily grows up to 3 feet tall. Zones 3-9.

'Hyperion' Daylily

Hyperion daylily
Jerry Pavia

Hemerocallis 'Hyperion' has very fragrant, large lemon-yellow single flowers that open toward evening. The daylily height grows to 4 feet tall. Zones 3-9.

'Mary Todd' Daylily

Mary Todd daylily
Marilyn Stouffer

Hemerocallis 'Mary Todd' is an old cultivar that blooms early with large, bright yellow flowers. The daylily height grows to 3 feet tall. Zones 4-10.

'Stella d'Oro' Daylily

Stella d'Oro daylily
Tom McWilliam

Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro' is an extremely popular variety. It reblooms freely from midseason on with single brilliant gold flowers that are slightly fragrant. This tough plant grows only a foot or so tall. Zones 3-9.

'Strawberry Candy' Daylily

Strawberry Candy daylily
Bob Stefko

Hemerocallis 'Strawberry Candy' has thick pink petals with a soft ruffled edge and a darker ring in the center along with a bright yellow throat. Rebloomer. Zones 3-9.

Daylily Companion Plants


'the rocket' Ligularia
Peter Krumhardt

Add a little sunshine to your garden with imposing ligularia. Its golden flower spikes or flattened heads of yellow daisylike flowers shine brightly in sun or part shade. The bold leaves are kidney-shape or jagged along the edges. These moisture lovers do beautifully at the edges of ponds and streams, and they must have deep, rich soil that remains moist. Position ligularia so it has a little shade during the heat of the day.


sneezeweed blooming in a garden
Peter Krumhardt

Long-blooming helenium lights up the late-season garden with showy daisy flowers in brilliant yellows, browns, and mahogany, centered with prominent yellow or brown discs. Many of the best cultivars are hybrids. All are excellent for cutting. Deadhead to extend bloom time, and divide the clumps every couple of years to ensure vigor.


detail of yarrow yarrow and purle penstemon
Tim Murphy

Yarrow is one of those plants that give a wildflower look to any garden. In fact, it is indeed a native plant and, predictably, it's easy to care for. In some gardens, it will thrive with almost no care, making it a good candidate for naturalistic plantings in open areas and along the edges of wooded or other wild places. Its colorful, flat-top blooms rise above clusters of ferny foliage. The tough plants resist drought, are rarely eaten by deer and rabbits, and spread moderately quickly, making yarrow a good choice for massing in borders or as a groundcover.

Garden Plans for Daylilies

This garden gives you ideas for planting different daylily varieties together with other colorful plants such as hosta, caladium, and New Guinea impatiens.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why are daylilies so expensive?

    Some new cultivars can cost anywhere from $300 to $500 for a single fan because it takes many years of breeding and sophisticated techniques such as diamond dusting, which makes flowers sparkle in the sunlight.

  • Are orange daylilies native to the United States?

    No, the common orange daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) is native to Asia. It was introduced to the United States in the 18th century and has widely naturalized in many parts of the country.

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