Planting Daylilies

With some advance planning you can have glorious daylilies for spring by planting in the fall.

'Red Volunteer' Daylily

'Red Volunteer' Daylily

'Red Volunteer' features bright red petals with a faint white stripe down the center of each and a bright yellow center. 

Photo by: Image courtesy of Oakes Daylilies

Image courtesy of Oakes Daylilies

The daylily is one of my favorite flowers, and they grow abundantly in my region. Probably yours, too. Contrary to common misinformation, daylilies, unlike true lilies, don’t grow from bulbs but from a mass of fleshy roots that retain nutrients and moisture, allowing the plants to survive a wide variety of climates.

While it’s always easy to find young daylilies ready to plant in spring, planting these fleshy roots is an economical and surprisingly easy way to ensure a garden bed of daylilies – with very little extra work! – next spring. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Understand your region. As long as the ground is frost-free you can plant daylilies, but depending where you live, you may want to get a move on or hold off a little longer. In southern climates, it’s still hot enough to fry a daylily root in September, but in the upper Midwest – where I live – getting roots in the ground in early fall gives them a better chance to establish strong roots. Talk to an experienced gardener in your area to find out the best time to plant.
  2. Know your variety. If you’re getting divided roots from a friend or neighbor, find out what kind of daylily it is to decide where to plant. Most varieties grow well pretty much anywhere, but paler shades may need more sun while some deeper-colored varieties do best with some shade.
  3. Prepare the root. Store your roots in a cool place until you’re ready to plant them. Before planting, soak the bare root in water for an hour or two.
  4. Dig a hole about a foot deep, and create a cone-shaped mound of loose soil at the bottom of the hole to hold the root. Spread the daylily’s root system over the mound, then fill in around the root with loose soil. Daylilies should be spaced 18 -24 inches apart.
  5. Cover the crown – the area where the leaves meet the tops of the roots – by about an inch of loose soil. Gently firm up the soil around the roots, but don’t tamp it down tightly.
  6. Water immediately after planting, and daily for a week or two after planting if it’s dry out. While daylilies are so hardy they don’t really need much over-wintering care, a layer of mulch may help them establish a stronger root system.
  7. Fertilize in spring, and you’re all set!

Congrats! You’ve already taken the first steps in nurturing a colorful garden for next fall. If you’re like many daylily enthusiasts, you might find this flower addictive.  So stay tuned for a follow-up post about dividing and transplanting those lovely daylilies.

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