Daylilies are not in the lily family, but the cup-like, graceful blooms resemble many lily flowers. The name daylily was given because each bloom lasts only one day. One disadvantage is that many varieties bloom for only a short period. A number of newer plants have been developed that bloom for a much longer period. Many of these plants are also smaller, so they are better suited for gardens with limited space.
The best ever-blooming daylily of all is Stella d'Oro (Hemerocallis ). This is a dwarf plant reaching 12 to 18 inches tall. The yellow to gold flowers bloom from early summer until the first freeze. This plant became so widely planted that some gardeners thought it too common. Fortunately, there are a number of descendants of this reliable plant in a wide choice of colors. More are under development all the time. A lighter lemon yellow relative, "Happy Returns," is well-liked, and "Stella Supreme" is an even paler yellow. Another form, "Black Eyed Stella," is yellow with a dark red throat. There are two red varieties sporting yellow centers, "Red Hot Returns" and "Ruby Stella." There is even a pink variety, called "Rosy Returns." Two purples are "Purple de Oro" and "Stella in Purple." The foliage of these smaller daylilies is much narrower than larger varieties. This makes them good companion plants for grasses.
Best Older Daylilies
No matter how many new varieties emerge, old varieties are still in demand. One daylily that has not been surpassed is "Hyperian." Many of the newer daylilies lack the fragrance that this one exudes. It is considered the best yellow full-sized daylily. It has large, 5-inch flowers, and the stems can reach up to 40 inches tall. "Hyperian" blooms in mid-summer and continues for several weeks. Another outstanding daylily is "Joan Senior." This one has a large white flower with a lemon center. It is a medium-sized daylily of around 25 inches tall. It has the rare characteristic of being evergreen in many areas. This one is a repeat bloomer.
Best Modern Daylilies
Gardeners cannot get enough of dark flowers and foliage. A well-loved daylily, "Black Stockings," is no exception. It has 6-inch ruffled blooms that are wine-colored with yellow centers. This daylily has its main bloom period in mid-summer but will bloom sporadically all summer long. "Ruby Spider" keeps topping the lists of outstanding newer varieties. The petals are yellow from the center outward and the tips are bright red. It has twisted, spider-like petals that add to its interest. What is even better is that the blooms can be up to 8 inches across. It is an early-blooming, 34-inch plant. Another newcomer, "Primal Scream," is a hot orange color. It is a mid-to-late-blooming, 34-inch plant. Another reliable plant, "Bela Lugosi," is said to have the purest purple flower found among daylilies. It has tetraploid (double) petals with a green-to-yellow center. This is a 30-inch plant with 6-inch flowers. Though not a repeat bloomer, it puts on an abundant show of flowers in June.