Daylilies are among the most popular perennials to grow because they survive bitter winters, brutal summers, poor soil and drought--then reward you for your neglect with prolific blooms from June through September. Tall flower stalks emerge from grass-like clumps of foliage and produce showy, trumpet-shaped blooms in yellow, orange, pink or red. Hybridizers are working to develop early blooming daylilies. As of 2010, the earliest blooming daylilies produce flowers in late May to mid-June.
Stella D'Oro, sometimes known as ditch lily, is the old favorite for early blooming daylilies. The plant bears bright yellow flowers in mid-June and is often naturalized along roadsides and ditches. New early varieties include Early Bird, Eastern Sunburst and Early Flat Form Yellow. Hybridizers are working to develop more varied bloom colors, as well as earlier bloom times.
Daylilies are ideal for a mixed perennial bed. The grass-like foliage appears in early spring and provides visual contrast to other perennials. Tucked among shorter plants, daylilies give gardens some vertical height since they grow to 3 feet high. Many daylily varieties are ever-blooming, meaning that they continue to bloom from early June to September.
Daylilies are native to Asia, but have been naturalized throughout the United States. They are hardy from USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 9, making them a very versatile plant.
Planting and Care
Daylilies grow slowly from seed, so most gardeners prefer to buy nursery stock. Plant them in fertile, well-drained soil and mulch to keep weeds down. Water them weekly to keep soil evenly moist, especially while they are young. Daylilies will grow in partial shade, although they bloom more prolifically in full sun.
Daylilies produce seed heads that can be saved to start more plants, but the easiest way to propagate daylilies is through division. Daylilies spread quickly through underground rhizomes. Divide them every three or four years by digging up the plant, cutting it in two with two garden spades, and replanting the divisions.