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Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) are one of America's most popular herbaceous perennials. While the flowers usually last for only a day or two, several are borne in succession over a two-week period. They are a favorite to brighten up a home landscape because they are available in a wide range of colors. Bloom colors range from white, yellow, orange, red, pink to salmon. They do require 6-8 hours of sun a day, so they fit in sunny to partial sunny spots. 

According to Mark Carpenter of the San Antonio Daylily Society, location is the single most important factor in growing daylilies well Texas. He says, “They need FULL morning sun and FULL mid-to-late afternoon shade. Next best choice is full morning sun and partial afternoon sun. Full morning and full afternoon sun is the worst choice for them, and can sometimes kill them, as they bake in our brutal summer temps. Daylilies need full sunlight in the morning hours to open properly.”

When choosing placement, you may want to consider South facing or East facing locations. If your West facing is the only location, you may want to consider another plant unless there is a great shade tree to block the searing afternoon sun. The daylilies (for the most part) in the Walker County Demonstration Gardens face East. Some have afternoon shade, while others do not. Most have drip irrigation, while others rely on Thursday morning waterings or rainwater. Most are also tagged, so you can look at one that may become your favorite in the landscape. It is always free to walk around the Gardens.

By choosing clones with different bloom times, a planting with flowers is possible from spring to early fall. During the months of June through September it is recommended to mulch around the base of the plant. This keeps moisture at the ready for the plant to absorb and keeps weeds at bay. They do appreciate mulch to keep their feet cool. Cool roots will reward you with better blooms. Bloom formations include flat, ruffled, double and spider.

Daylilies are an excellent choice when trying to go for an Earth-Kind® landscape. “Earth-Kind® uses research-proven techniques to provide maximum garden and landscape enjoyment while preserving and protecting the environment. The objective of Earth-Kind Landscaping is to combine the best of organic and traditional gardening and landscaping principles to create a horticultural system based on real world effectiveness and environmental responsibility.,” according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Horticulture.

Using the Earth-Kind® Landscaping scale, Daylilies rate in at an 8.0. “The Earth–Kind® Index takes into account the predicted water use, heat tolerance, plant adaptability to varied soil conditions, growth with little attention to applying fertilizer, and the overall freedom from insect and disease pests. The range is from 1 to 10, with plants having an Earth–Kind® Index of 10 being the best adapted plants for your region.”

Daylilies have a high heat tolerance, low water use, medium soil requirements and pest resistance, and low fertilizer requirements. Most daylilies will bloom into fall. Low water use is a great characteristic for homeowners. These plants have a LOW Fertility Index will typically not require the use of supplemental nitrogen (N) for suitable performance in the landscape.

When you do fertilize your plants, use a balanced mix, such as 10-10-10, of a granular fertilizer in the spring. You may also use slow release fertilizer, liquid fertilizer, compost or well-rotted manure as well. It is always a good idea to have a soil test done, especially if you feel like you have an unusual soil situation. Daylilies do need good drainage, so clay soils may be a problem.

These sunny perennials be used as groundcovers if planted on tight centers. Daylily foliage ranges from 1-2 ft., while flower stalks from 2-4 ft. in height. Daylilies can take up some space with widths ranging from one to two feet, and some clumps well into the four-foot range.

For better blooms, divide daylilies about every 4-6 years. Don’t divide in the heat of summer! The best time is late summer and early fall (for us this means September through early October). Dig the entire clump and tip it on its side. Wash off the dirt with a garden hose. You can usually break the daylilies into sections by using an knife, but if too tightly clumped use a sharp spade to cut the clump. Each section should have no less than two to three “fans”.

If you are interested in growing daylilies, contact the Walker County Master Gardeners by calling the Walker County AgriLife Extension Office at 936-435-2426 or drop us an email at Master Gardeners are typically ‘in’ the Demonstration Gardens on Thursday mornings.

The Walker County Extension Office is also on Facebook. WalkerCoTxAgrilife has been established to provide updates and information to Walker County residents and landowners on a timely basis. The Walker County Master Gardeners are also on Facebook! Check out both of these Facebook pages and hit "like" to join.