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Orange day lilies in a garden
If you are looking for a water-wise, undemanding flowering plant that can also be tossed into your salads, you can’t go past the humble day lily (Hemerocallis).

What you need to know about daily lilies

Name: day lily, Hemerocallis.

Height: 50cm–1m; dwarf forms 30cm–50cm. 

Foliage: green, strappy leaves

Climate: most areas, including, coastal, humid and frosty locations.

Soil: free-draining soil.

Position: full sun to part shade. 

Flowering: single and double flowers on flower stems, mostly during spring and early summer; spot flowering at other times. 

Feeding: spring feed with a complete fertiliser.

Watering: drought-tolerant once established. Water twice weekly in warm months and weekly in winter.

Appearance and characteristics of day lilies

Originally native to Asia, there are 13 day lily species but plants sold to gardeners are almost exclusively hybrids. They’re popular because they are beautiful, very easy to grow, and low maintenance.

For most of the year these plants are characterised by their mounding, strappy green leaves but in spring and summer they put on a striking flower show of single and double flowers on tall flower stems held above the foliage.

The day lily is named because the flowers last for just one day. While the blooms are short-lived there are many on each stem and, depending on the variety, they have between two and four flushes of flowers in a season.

Flowers come in all colours except true blue, some with fancy ruffled petals or coloured ‘eyes’ at the base of the bloom. Standard plants are from 50cm to 1m tall while dwarf forms are 30cm to 50cm tall. There are some fragrant forms but most are scentless.

Individual flowers often feature many different shades and can have fancy ruffled edges, coloured eyes at the base of the flower, and different shapes. Blooms are usually held on long stems above the foliage.

Close-up of orange day lilies in a garden

 

Varieties of daily lilies

Hybridization by enthusiasts has resulted in more than 80,000 registered varieties of day lily in a range of lovely forms and colours in most shades except true blue.

The dwarf Echo series includes Grape Ripple (purple pink with a lime throat), Wilson Yellow (yellow with a rusty red splash through the middle of the petals), Bright Copper (apricot) and Marcia Faye (pink flowers with white ribs and a yellow eye). Other popular dwarf forms are Stella Bella (massed yellow flowers), Cranberry Baby (crimson flowers), and On and On (apricot blooms).

Uses for day lilies

Day lilies make great ground covers and feature plants in perennial borders and their compact size also makes them suitable for containers. They suit coastal zones and pool-side landscaping, cottage or wildflower gardens, and make great informal edging for paths, driveways or garden beds.

All parts of this perennial plant are edible and the flowers make a pretty garnish with a mild, sweet flavour like zucchini. The buds have a slightly peppery taste and can be steamed, stir-fried or boiled.

How to plant and grow day lilies

Day lilies are tolerant to drought, humidity and frost and cope well with coastal conditions. They grow quickly and need little maintenance.

  • Cut off the old flowers to encourage further displays and remove the dead foliage to keep them looking tidy.
  • Plants prefer at least five hours of sun each day and in very hot areas of northern Australia need dappled sun.
  • Incorporate lots of organic matter in the soil and mulch well.
  • Water twice weekly in the warmer months.

Soil and fertiliser

Day lilies are undemanding when it comes to soil but it must drain well. They prefer it to be nutrient rich but they cope in poor soils.

Feed each spring with a complete fertiliser.

Pruning your day lilies

No pruning is required but removing old foliage keeps plants looking tidy and removing old flowering spikes encourages repeat blooms.

Pests and diseases affecting daily lilies

Plants are usually pest free but can get infestations of aphids which should be controlled with a jet of water and/or pyrethrum sprays.

How to propagate day lilies

Day lilies have a bulb-like rhizome. Clumps get bigger each year and are easy to propagate. Just dig up the clump and divide them with a sharp spade so each section has a rhizome and a few leaves. Cut back the foliage to 10cm before replanting. 

If you like this then try

Clivia: beautiful orange, red, peach or cream trumpet-shaped flowers from late winter to early spring. 

Dianella: a perennial strappy leaf plant with green leathery leaves, small purple flowers and deep blue to purple berries.

Liriope: hardy, easy-care plant with excellent form and foliage and colourful flowers. 

Start growing today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

 

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