Breathtaking daylilies bring color to gardens

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, June 4, 2024

By Eddie Smith
MSU Extension Service

Daylilies are one of my favorite plants. I have more than 200 daylilies growing in my gardens, and I continue to plant more each year.

The only thing I don’t like about daylilies is that each individual flower lasts only for a day –hence the name “daylily.” But the fact that the plants produce multiple blooms over several weeks provides an extended period of color.

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Originally, daylilies came in just yellow, orange and red. However, today’s cultivars boast a breathtaking array of colors, including near-whites, pastels, vibrant yellows, oranges, pinks, vivid reds, deep crimsons, purples, nearly true blues and intricate blends.

Daylilies are hardy and easy to care for. They prefer full sun to partial shade and can thrive in a variety of soil types, although well-drained soil is ideal. They work well in perennial borders, mixed flower beds and as a ground cover on slopes. Daylilies are drought-tolerant once established.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited Rolling Oaks Daylilies in Picayune where I admired hundreds of beautiful selections in full bloom across the property. I must admit the number of blooming daylilies was overwhelming, and the beautiful blooms came in so many colors, shapes and sizes.

Owner Kay Cline showed me some of her favorites growing in the gardens.

Hydra, an unusually formed, vibrant yellow-green double daylily had impressive, 8.5-inch blooms adorned with teeth-like edges. This variety is relatively tall, often reaching 32-48 inches. Foliage consists of long, arching, grass-like leaves that form a dense clump.

Another of her favorites was Cross Bones, which featured delicate ruffled edges in a striking orchid-purple hue with a yellow-green throat. The color patterns were breathtaking, making it a true eye-catcher in the garden.

The 7-inch flowers of Cross Bones were held high above the foliage on sturdy stems reaching 32 inches tall, making them quite prominent in the garden. This daylily produces 26-30 buds and is known for its extended blooming period.

Daylilies with ruffled and toothed petals have always been among my top picks. Buddy’s Kayla is a prime example that stood out as a rockstar. Its black-purple blooms with green throats and white-toothed edges were mesmerizing.

It’s important to note that daylilies do not grow from bulbs but from bare roots. These roots store essential nutrients and energy, enabling the plants to endure harsh conditions and regrow each year.

For optimal growth, plant daylilies in full sun in moist but well-drained soil. In hot climates, dark-colored cultivars benefit from afternoon shade to maintain their vibrant colors.

When planted in the right conditions, daylilies can bloom year after year with minimal care. Their resilience and stunning beauty make them delightful additions to gardens. I hope daylilies become one of your favorite plants, too.