Daylilies: Unveiling the Colorful World of Hemerocallis

Last Updated on May 9, 2023 by Derek

Daylilies are one of the most popular flowers in gardens around the world. They are known for their vibrant colors and easy-to-grow nature, making them a favorite among gardeners of all skill levels.

close up of yellow daylily flower

However, despite their name, daylilies are not true lilies! In fact, they belong to the Hemerocallis family and are native to Asia.

Key takeaways for this article about Daylilies:

Daylilies are a popular flower in gardens around the world known for their vibrant colors and easy-to-grow nature.

Despite their name, daylilies are not true lilies and belong to the Hemerocallis family, native to Asia.

Daylilies have a rich history dating back to ancient China and Japan and were brought to Europe and North America by early settlers.

There are over 60,000 registered cultivars of daylilies available worldwide.

Daylilies come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes, with different bloom times throughout the growing season.

‘Stella de Oro’ and ‘Happy Returns’ are two popular daylily cultivars known for their easy-care nature and reliable blooming habits.

Daylilies are hardy perennials that grow well in well-drained, fertile soil, full sun to partial shade, and moderate water needs.

The Popularity of Daylilies in Gardens

Daylilies have been a staple in gardens for centuries. Their popularity has only increased thanks to their wide range of colors (from deep reds to soft pinks and even bright yellows) and the fact that they are perennials, meaning they come back year after year. Daylilies bloom during the summer months which is why you’ll often see them adorning front yards or lining walkways during this time.

All about perennial Daylilies

Fun Fact: Daylilies Are Not True Lilies!

Despite being called “daylilies,” these flowers actually have very little in common with true lilies. While both plants produce beautiful blooms, daylilies differ from lilies in many ways including how their petals attach to the stem and how they grow underground. They also have a much shorter lifespan than lilies do – hence why they’re called “day” lilies – since each individual flower typically opens for only one day before withering away.

The Story of Daylilies: A Journey Across Continents

Origins of Daylilies in Asia

Daylilies, or Hemerocallis, have a rich history that dates back to ancient China and Japan. These beautiful flowers were originally found growing wild in the temperate regions of Asia, from the Himalayas to Siberia.

The Chinese have been cultivating them for over 2000 years and believe that they bring good luck and fortune. In Japan, daylilies are often grown around temples and shrines as a symbol of purity.

How They Made Their Way to Europe and North America

The first recorded mention of daylilies in Europe was by a Flemish botanist named Carolus Clusius in the late 16th century. He received some bulbs from Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) and wrote about their beauty in his botanical journal. It wasn’t until the 19th century that daylilies became widely popular in Europe, especially with gardeners who prized their hardiness and long blooming period.

In North America, it was the early settlers who brought daylilies with them on their journeys across the Atlantic. It is believed that they first arrived in Virginia in the 1600s and quickly spread throughout the eastern part of the country.

Today, there are over 60,000 registered cultivars of daylilies available worldwide, making them one of the most popular garden plants on earth. It is fascinating how these flowers have traveled across continents through time to become such a beloved feature of gardens all over the world!

Types of Daylilies

Flower Color

One of the most popular aspects of daylilies is their wide range of flower colors. From classic yellows, oranges and reds, to more unique hues such as lavender, pink, and even near-black.

Some varieties even have bi-colored or tri-colored blooms! With so much color variety available, it’s easy to find a daylily that fits your garden’s color scheme.

Size and Shape

Daylilies come in a variety of shapes and sizes as well. Some have narrow petals with a star-like shape while others have fuller petal cups resembling small roses.

The size of the flower can also vary greatly, from tiny miniature varieties to larger dinner-plate sized blooms. Whether you’re looking for delicate or bold flowers, there is a daylily out there for you.

Bloom Time

Different varieties of daylilies have various bloom times throughout the growing season. While some types may only bloom once in early summer, others will continue blooming throughout the season until fall frost hits. This makes them a great choice for adding consistent color to your garden all season long.

Popular Cultivars: ‘Stella de Oro’ and ‘Happy Returns’

Two popular cultivars among daylily enthusiasts are ‘Stella de Oro’ and ‘Happy Returns’. Both are known for their easy-care nature and reliable blooming habits. ‘Stella de Oro’ is an award-winning variety that produces masses of bright yellow-gold flowers with ruffled edges on compact plants that grow only about 12-18 inches tall.

It is one of the most popular daylilies in North America due to its prolific blooming nature (often reblooming multiple times during the summer) and versatility in different growing conditions. ‘Happy Returns’ is another reliable bloomer that produces masses of soft yellow flowers on tall scapes (flower stalks) that can reach up to 2 feet tall.

It is similar to ‘Stella de Oro’ but with slightly larger flowers and a more upright, vase-shaped habit. Its bloom time extends throughout midsummer and into fall in some regions, making it a great choice for extending the daylily season.

Growing Daylilies

Daylilies Growing Conditions
Common Name Scientific Name US Growing Zone Hardy/Perennial Soil Type Sunshine Requirements Water Needs
Daylilies Hemerocallis spp. 3-9 Hardy perennial Well-drained, fertile Full sun to partial shade Moderate

Soil Requirements

Daylilies are not picky about soil type, but they do prefer well-drained soil. They can grow in everything from sandy soils to heavy clay soils with the addition of some organic matter.

It’s best to avoid very acidic soil, as it can stunt growth and lead to yellowing leaves. A pH range of 6.0-7.5 is ideal.

Sunlight Needs

Daylilies are sun-loving plants and require at least six hours of direct sunlight each day to thrive and produce blooms. They can tolerate some shade, but too much shade will result in fewer flowers and weaker growth.

Watering Tips

Daylilies have average water requirements and should be watered deeply once a week during dry spells. Be careful not to overwater as this can lead to root rot. If you’re unsure whether your daylilies need water, dig down a few inches into the soil – if it feels dry, give them a good watering.

Propagation Methods

yellow and pink daylilies flowers with seeds

There are two primary methods for propagating daylilies: division and seed starting. Division involves splitting an established clump of daylilies into smaller sections that can be replanted separately.

This is typically done every three to five years in early spring or fall when the plant is dormant. Seed starting involves growing daylily seeds indoors under controlled conditions before planting them outside in the garden after the last frost date in springtime.

While this method takes longer than division, it allows for greater variety as seeds produce new genetic combinations that may differ from their parent plant. Whether you’re dividing existing plants or starting new ones from seed, growing daylilies is a rewarding experience that will add beauty and color to any garden space!

Common Pests and Diseases

Identification of Common Pests

Like any plant, daylilies are susceptible to pests that can damage leaves and blooms. The most common insects that affect daylilies are aphids, spider mites, and thrips. Aphids are tiny green or black bugs that suck the sap from plants and leave behind a sticky residue called honeydew.

Spider mites are even smaller than aphids and cause a stippling effect on leaves. Thrips are tiny insects that feed on flowers causing them to turn brown or white.

Prevention Measures for Diseases

Daylilies can also be affected by diseases such as crown rot and leaf streak. Crown rot is a fungal disease that affects the roots of plants causing them to decay and die.

Leaf streak is caused by a fungus that causes brown or gray spots on leaves. To prevent disease in daylilies, it’s important to maintain good garden hygiene practices such as removing dead foliage, weeds, and debris around plants.

Avoid overhead watering which can lead to fungal growth on leaves, stems, and flowers. If you notice signs of pest infestation or disease in your daylilies, it’s essential to act quickly before the problem spreads.

One option is to use insecticidal soap or neem oil spray for pests control while using fungicides for treatment of fungal diseases. By keeping an eye out for common pests and diseases in your garden with preventative measures like proper sanitation practices, you’ll set your daylilies –and all your plants—on the path towards bountiful blooms!

Daylily Pests and Diseases
Pest/Disease Symptoms Treatment
Aphids Stunted growth, distorted leaves, honeydew residue Apply insecticidal soap or neem oil spray, introduce natural predators such as ladybugs or lacewings
Spider mites Yellow stippling on leaves, fine webbing on plant Apply insecticidal soap or neem oil spray, introduce natural predators such as predatory mites or ladybugs
Thrips Distorted flowers, brown streaks on petals Apply insecticidal soap or neem oil spray, introduce natural predators such as predatory mites or lacewings
Leaf streak Brown streaks on leaves, yellowing, leaf dieback Remove infected leaves, avoid overhead watering, apply copper fungicide spray
Rust Orange or brown pustules on leaves, stem, or flower Remove infected plant parts, avoid overhead watering, apply fungicide spray

Culinary Uses

The Delicious Edible Flower

It may come as a surprise to many, but daylilies are edible flowers that have been used for culinary purposes for centuries. They have a sweet, subtle flavor and can be added to salads for a pop of color and taste.

The petals can also be used in stir-fries as a garnish or ingredient. A popular dish in Chinese cuisine is the ‘daylily egg stir-fry’ where the petals are cooked with eggs and seasoning.

Tea Time with Daylilies

Daylily tea is another use for this versatile flower. The dried petals can be brewed into a fragrant tea that is said to have calming effects on the body. It’s an excellent choice for those looking for an alternative to traditional tea leaves.

The Art of Using Daylilies in Cooking

When using daylilies in cooking, it’s essential to remember that not all varieties are edible. Stick to the Hemerocallis species, which has been deemed safe for consumption. It’s also crucial to remove the pistil and stamen from the center of the flower before consuming as they can cause stomach upset if ingested.

Daylilies are not just beautiful garden plants but also have surprising culinary uses. From salads to teas, these flowers add a unique touch of flavor and aroma to any dish.

So why not try adding some daylily petals in your next recipe? You might just discover your new favorite ingredient!

Here’s a recipe for Daylily Fritters:


1 cup all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 1/4 tsp paprika 1/4 tsp garlic powder 1/4 tsp onion powder 1/2 cup milk 1 large egg 1 cup fresh daylily flowers, washed and trimmed Oil for frying


In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.
In another bowl, whisk together the milk and egg until well combined.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth batter.
Add the daylily flowers to the batter and mix until they are fully coated.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter and drop it into the hot oil.
Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning occasionally.
Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel.

Serve the fritters hot with your favorite dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Symbolism & Cultural Significance

Daylilies are not just a popular addition to gardens, but they also hold great cultural and symbolic significance. The name Hemerocallis comes from the Greek words for “beautiful” and “day,” referencing the fact that each flower lasts only a day before wilting. But despite its short lifespan, daylilies have been used in many cultures for centuries.

The meaning behind the flower’s name “Hemerocallis”

In addition to their Greek name, daylilies have several other names in different cultures. In China, they are known as ‘Golden Needle Flower’ and were first cultivated for medicinal purposes over 2000 years ago. Daylilies were brought to Europe during the 16th century where they became a popular garden ornamental.

How daylilies are used in Chinese medicine

In Chinese medicine, daylily roots have been used for centuries to treat a range of ailments including fevers, sore throats, back pains and ulcers. The plant’s leaves have also been eaten as a vegetable or brewed into tea which is believed to reduce feverish symptoms. In recent years studies have shown that compounds present in some varieties of Hemerocallis flowers can help fight cancer cells due to their antioxidant properties.

In Japan, daylily flowers are known as ‘Kisuge’ and were considered an emblem of Samurai culture due to their beauty and short-lived nature which represented an appreciation for life’s fleeting moments. Whether you appreciate them for their beauty or utilize them medicinally or spiritually – the cultural significance of Day lilies runs deep!

Fun Facts & Trivia

The Guinness World Record for the largest collection of daylilies is held

Did you know that the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of daylilies is held by Olga Petryszyn, a resident of Connecticut? She has over 6,000 varieties of daylilies in her garden, which took over 30 years to cultivate!

Olga’s love for daylilies began when she received a gift from a friend and was fascinated by the different colors and shapes that they came in. She quickly became hooked and began collecting more and more varieties.


Daylilies are one of the most popular flowering plants in gardens all around the world. They offer an abundance of colorful blooms and are relatively easy to care for. We learned about their history and origin, different types based on color, size, shape, and bloom time, how to grow them successfully by providing appropriate soil requirements sunlight needs and watering tips.

Additionally , we learned about common pests and diseases that can attack them including prevention measures. In addition to being beautiful garden plants with many uses in cooking or medicine among other things – these versatile perennials have captured our hearts with their beauty!

FAQ relating to Daylilies

Do daylilies prefer sun or shade?

Daylilies prefer full sun to partial shade. They will still grow in full shade, but may not bloom as prolifically as they would in sunnier conditions.

Where do daylilies grow best?

Daylilies grow best in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. They can tolerate a range of soil types, but do best in slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Daylilies are also fairly drought-tolerant, but do appreciate consistent moisture.

How do you keep daylilies blooming all summer?

To keep daylilies blooming all summer, it’s important to deadhead the spent blooms regularly. This will encourage the plant to produce more flowers. Additionally, fertilizing the plants with a balanced fertilizer every few weeks can also promote more blooms.

Do daylilies spread?

Yes, daylilies are known for their ability to spread and form large clumps over time. This can be a desirable trait in a garden, but it’s important to be aware of the plant’s potential to spread when choosing where to plant it.

Should you cut down daylilies after they bloom?

It’s not necessary to cut down daylilies after they bloom, but doing so can help keep the garden looking tidy. If you choose to cut them down, make sure to leave some foliage behind to allow the plant to photosynthesize and store energy for next year’s growth.

Will daylilies grow back if cut down?

Yes, daylilies will grow back if cut down. In fact, cutting them down can sometimes encourage the plant to produce more blooms later in the season. Just be sure to leave some foliage behind to allow the plant to continue photosynthesizing and storing energy for next year’s growth.

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