How to plant daylilies

Daylilies are low-maintenance flowering perennial plants known for their abundance of cheery blooms. Here’s how to plant daylilies in your garden.

Different types of daylily flowering plants in pots
Choose healthy potted daylily plants in cultivars that suit your climate and growing space

Choosing daylily plants

There are many different types of daylilies to consider for planting in your landscape. These beauties are available in many colors, from yellow and orange to pink, purple, and red. There are daylilies with ruffled petals and daylilies with trumpet-type straight lily petals. Some plants grow their flowers on short stems under a foot tall, while others send up 3-foot flower scapes topped with bright blooms. Some types also flower much earlier in the season than others.

Here are some beautiful types of hybrid garden daylilies to consider:

  • Hemerocallis ‘Always Afternoon’
  • Hemerocallis ‘Little Grapette’
  • Hemerocallis ‘South Seas’
  • Hemerocallis ‘Princess Diana’
  • Hemerocallis ‘Lavender Blue Baby’
  • Hemerocallis ‘Hanalei Bay’
  • Hemerocallis ‘Strawberry Candy’
  • Hemerocallis ‘Prairie Belle’

Many of these modern cultivars are “reblooming” daylilies, meaning that while they do have a main bloom period, they will continue to bloom intermittently throughout the growing season.

Daylilies are most often sold in the spring in garden centers and plant nurseries. These plants are generally tough enough to be planted throughout the year (as long as the soil isn’t frozen). Daylilies planted in early autumn tend to establish very quickly, while those planted in spring may take a bit longer. Daylilies require very frequent watering if planted in the heat of summer, and may take longer to establish, but sometimes this is the best option (especially if there are lots of daylilies on sale and your outdoor space is at a premium!).

How to plant daylilies

Planting location tips for these perennial flowers

Daylilies are not fussy about where they are planted. These plants will produce the most flowers in a full sun location that receives at least 6 hours of sun per day, provided the plants receive enough water. Plants in partial sun and partial shade may not produce quite as many flowers, but also will not have to be watered as often. The hot afternoon sun can fade the color in the daylily flower petals, so some gardeners choose a location with morning sun and afternoon shade.

In terms of soil, daylilies are also quite forgiving in comparison to other flowering perennials. Like many plants, they grow best in soil that is moist but drains off excess water easily. These soil characteristics are often found in sandy loam soils where the large void spaces between soil particles can host both air and water for the lily roots to access. That said, daylilies can also be grown successfully in marginal soil such as heavy clay in some situations.

If more than one daylily is being planted in an area, their spacing distance is more often determined by aesthetic design than for the health of the individual plants. A small area that is to be densely planted with small daylily cultivars might have a plant spaced every 12 inches apart. A larger patch of land with larger daylilies might have them spaced 3 feet apart (or more if few plants are available). Daylilies do grow quite quickly and so its generally best to anticipate having to divide their roots up in the future.

How To Plant Daylilies

Here are the basic steps for planting daylilies:

  1. Water the daylily plant in the pot if the soil appears dry.
  2. Dig a hole in the soil that’s about twice as wide as the plant’s pot, but only as deep as the soil in the plant pot.
  3. Gently remove the plant from the pot by sliding the pot off the root zone.
  4. Take a look at the daylily roots if visible on the side of the soil. I like to gently loosen any large roots that are growing in a circular manner around the pot.
  5. Place the root ball into the center of the hole.
  6. Check the soil levels to ensure that the level of the soil at the top of the root ball is even with the ground level surrounding the hole.
  7. Backfill the hole with the same soil that came out of the hole, gently patting it down around the plant.
  8. Water the planted daylily to moisten the surrounding soil and to help the soil settle around the roots of the plant.

Here’s a video version of this tutorial showing all the steps for how to plant daylilies:

Daylilies ready for planting
Planting a day lily
Planting daylily plant
Daylily flower
Daylily flowers blooming in the landscape

Daylily Care After Planting

After the daylily is planted, the surface area around the plant can be mulched with high-quality organic mulch such as homemade compost. This mulch will help keep moisture in the soil, reducing watering requirements. It can also help suppress weeds around the baby plant and will also give it a gentle boost of mineral nutrients. The plants can also be fed with natural fertilizer.

While daylilies are known for being tough-as-nails in the garden, they do require a bit of pampering during their first year in the soil. Keep the new plants well-watered throughout the first year. Gently pull out any weeds growing in the immediate area of the plant to reduce competition for mineral nutrients, water, and sunlight. Check on the plant frequently to see how it’s doing. Daylilies also require pruning once their growing season is done, in order to grow back healthy next year.

Daylily - hemerocallis - prarie belle
Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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