Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) have become one of the most popular perennials. Their easy care and beautiful flowers make them useful in both formal and informal gardens. Daylilies perform best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade as well. They are relatively disease and insect free except for normal garden pests such as aphids and spider mites. Flowers last only a day giving the plant its common name. Hundreds of varieties are available with new varieties released every year. Proper variety selection will allow flowering from spring until frost. Flower colors are available in every shade except pure white and blue.
With so many hybrid varieties available, selecting a daylily can be a confusing experience. Daylily catalogs and plant descriptions often have their own terminology. This is fine if you're a daylily collector, but what about those of us who are just getting started. Terms frequently used to describe daylilies include:
- Double -- flowers with extra segments, more than the usual six.
- Eyed or banded -- distinct color markings slightly above the throat of the flower.
- Halo -- less distinct color markings above the throat.
- Extended bloomer or flowering -- flowers that remain open sixteen hours or more.
- Miniature -- flowers are three inches or less in diameter.
- Overlay -- a wash of color over the basic flower color.
- Polychrome -- flowers blending many colors.
- Proliferates -- a leafy shoot from a node, found on the flowering scapes of many cultivars.
- Repeat bloomer -- more than one cycle of flowering during a season.
- Stoloniferous -- the plant sends out underground stolons which have the ability to root and form new plants. These forms are excellent for erosion control.
- Tetraploid -- a daylily with four sets of chromosomes in each cell; the normal chromosome number is two.
Daylily flowers appear in many forms. Many of these are illustrated below.
When looking for a durable, pest-free perennial, look for the variety that daylilies offer.
This article originally appeared in the July 1, 1992 issue, pp. 1992 issue, pp. 116-117.
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