Daylilies and roses are two of my garden passions. Of these two, daylilies are more reliable and give more bang for the buck in my climate than the fairest Queen of May. For the most part, they are easy, but there are certain things you can do to help your daylilies prosper. This post is all about the care and feeding of daylilies.
- Plant in spring or fall. Don’t plant daylilies when the weather is very hot, or you are setting yourself up for failure. Because of their fibrous roots and thickened spindles for water storage, newly-planted daylilies are very susceptible to root rot under hot conditions. If you simply must buy a daylily now when they’re are blooming–and I wouldn’t know anything about that–plant them in larger containers and place these in the shade where you will keep them watered. Mine sit beneath my deck. In the cool shade, they will grow throughout summer and be ready to place in the ground in fall. If you can’t do this, go ahead and plant your daylilies in the garden, but be sure to shade them. My friend, Leslie at Growing a Garden in Davis, uses children’s umbrellas. Pretty smart. I’ve used all sorts of things when I just couldn’t keep myself from buying.
- When planting daylilies, spread their roots over a mound of soil in the hole. Make sure to place soil up underneath the daylily crown. You don’t want air pockets when winter comes calling.
- Feed daylilies with a high nitrogen fertilizer to get more blooms. I bet that surprises you. A larger clump ensures better and larger blooms. Nitrogen fertilizer creates a larger clump. I’ve used different organic fertilizers from composted chicken manure to Milorganite. Alfalfa based fertilizers also work well. HuMore is alfalfa and manure. I’ve also used Back to Nature. Daylilies respond to all of these, and I change them up from year to year to maintain balance. I also give them a year off now and then. You should also check your soil every few years with a soil test to make sure your garden isn’t out of balance or over-fertilized. Manure tea, like Moo Poo Tea, is also a nice pick-me-up for daylilies and other summer stressed plants. It can be sprayed on foliage or poured at the drip line.
- Mulch. I use Back to Nature or shredded oak leaves as mulch. Occasionally, I also lay shredded pine bark mulch, but only occasionally.
- Water. Daylilies have roots which hold water, and ditch lilies seem to grow all by themselves. However, if you’ll notice ditch lilies grow in ditches were water runs freely. They like extra water and good drainage.
- Good drainage. Daylilies will tolerant some clay, but they grow best in conditions where they have decent drainage. Otherwise, they may rot.
- Deadhead regularly. Although it isn’t a requirement to deadhead, doing so makes for a neater appearance, allows new flowers to open, and keeps scapes from falling over due to weight. I deadhead daily except on Sundays. I take Sunday off.
- After the daylilies bloom, I cut off scapes–i.e., stems. Some people don’t and let their daylilies finish out the cycle. However, I think they can be unsightly so I remove them. Whichever you choose, do remove any seedpods unless you’re trying to hybridize. Seedpods take energy from the mother plant.
- Like all perennials, expect daylilies to take three years or more to realize their potential. They will probably bloom the second year, but not at the rate they will in future summers. Also, those first blooms may not look exactly like they will in the future. Give them time.
These are all things I do to ensure daylily success. How about your tips? Daylilies bring a lot of joy to my garden. I’d love to spread that joy around. After all, I can’t be the only one who daylily mad, can I?