How to Raise Daylilies From Seed

Overview

Daylilies are favorite easy perennials, but raising daylilies from seed is not a project for the casual gardener. The flower called hemerocallis comes in a rainbow of colors, and most enthusiasts end up with more divisions than they need; low-priced or free plants are offered in dozens of exchange programs. The amateur hybridizer, though, always craves that new color, shape, size or re-blooming beauty that no one else has been able to achieve. And that requires cross-pollinating plants, harvesting seed and growing the new hybrid from seed.

Step 1

Hand-pollinate flowers with a paintbrush. Wrap the flower with aluminum foil to keep flying insects, the customary pollinators, away from the flower as it fades. Remove the wrapping when the green seed pod forms. If you buy seeds instead of gathering them, skip this and the first part of the next step.

Step 2

Collect seeds as the seed pods open after they have dried and turned brown. Each pod will yield a few dark, rounded seeds. Lay the seeds on a moist paper towel and fold it over them. Put the towel in a plastic bag and place it in a cool dark place (such as a paper bag in the refrigerator vegetable bin).

Step 3

Remove seeds as they sprout and plant each seed in a small pot filled with light potting mix or any sterile soil-less medium. Set the pots in a tray of pebbles to keep them elevated and keep the soil moist, not wet. Keep your pots in a sunny window.

Step 4

Plant the little daylilies in the garden in the spring after all danger of frost is past and the soil temperature has reached 60 degrees F. Cultivate the soil and add compost or any other amendment to make a slightly acidic, well-drained garden loam. Set the plants out in groups of three to five about 18 to 24 inches apart.

Step 5

Water plants deeply several times a week to keep the ground moist. Daylilies need about an inch of water a week, including rain totals. After a season, the plants may be moved to other positions in the garden.

Tips and Warnings

  • Many hemerocallis plants cannot self-pollinate. If you want a true-to-parent plant, use pollen from an identical plant to pollinate. Diploid and teraploid daylilies cannot cross-pollinate. Know what types you have before you attempt to form hybrids.

Things You'll Need

  • Paintbrush
  • Daylilies or seeds
  • Plastic bag and paper towels
  • Small pots
  • Light potting soil
  • Window tray
  • Pebbles
  • Garden spade and hand trowel
  • Soil amendments

References

  • The Daylily Place

Who Can Help

  • Bulbs and Blooms
  • Propagating Daylilies
  • American Hemerocallis Society Regional Chapters
Keywords: raising daylilies, seed, hemerocallis, gardener, hybrids

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.