What is a daylily?

The scientific name for daylily is Hemerocallis, most recently considered to belong in the plant family Hemerocallidaceae. Previously, many older works placed daylilies in the Lily family, Liliaceae. Notice that the preferred spelling is “daylily” as one word. Many dictionaries spell it as two words. The word Hemerocallis is derived from two Greek words meaning “beauty” and “day,” referring to the fact that each flower lasts only one day. To make up for this, there are many flower buds on each daylily flower stalk, and many stalks in each clump of plants, so, the flowering period of a clump is usually several weeks long. And, many cultivars have more than one flowering period.  

Why is the daylily the perfect perennial?

The daylily is sometimes referred to as the perfect perennial because it is:

  • Available in a rainbow of colors and a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • Able to survive with very little care in a wide range of climates.
  • Suitable for all types of landscapes.
  • Drought tolerant when necessary, with relatively few pest and disease problems in most gardens. See descriptions of pests and diseases that may be encountered .
  • Adaptable to various soil and light conditions.
  • Known to bloom from late spring until autumn.

Where did daylilies originate?

The genus Hemerocallis is native to Asia. Since the early 1930s, hybridizers in the United States and England have made great improvements in daylilies. Originally, the only colors were yellow, orange, and fulvous red. Today, we have colors ranging from near-whites, pastels, yellows, oranges, pinks, vivid reds, crimson, purple, nearly true-blue, and fabulous blends. Many people are familiar with only the common yellow or orange daylilies which are often seen along roadsides. These daylilies are cultivated forms of the wild types of daylilies which have “escaped” and are growing as if they are wild. All the modern daylilies have been developed through a complicated history of hybridization among these and other wild types.

Source: http://www.daylilies.org/AHSFAQsNew.html#whatis

Growing daylilies

Daylilies are rugged, adaptable, vigorous perennials that endure in a garden for many years with little or no care. Daylilies adapt to a wide range of soil and light conditions. They establish quickly, grow vigorously, and survive winters with little or no injury.

group of orange flowersFigure 1. Daylilies typically grow one to four feet in height and produce numerous flower buds that are showy over a long period.

Daylilies belong to the genus Hemerocallis and are not true lilies. This Greek word is made up of two parts: hemera meaning day and kallos meaning beauty. The name is appropriate, since each flower lasts only one day. Some of the newer varieties have flowers that open in the evening and remain open until the evening of the following day. Many of these night blooming plants are delightfully fragrant.

group of yellow flowersFigure 2. Daylilies are hardy perennials that grow well in Minnesota.

Each daylily plant produces an abundance of flower buds that open over a long period of time. There are many varieties, a wide range of flower colors, and the flowers continue during the heat of the summer.

Daylilies are useful in the perennial flower border, planted in large masses, or as a ground cover on slopes, where they form a dense mat in just a few years.

Site and soil

Daylilies grow best in full sun. They will tolerate light shade, but flower best with a minimum of six hours of direct sun. Light shade during the hottest part of the day keeps the flowers fresh. Daylilies should not be planted near trees and shrubs that are likely to compete for moisture and nutrients.

Although daylilies are adaptable to most soils, they do best in a slightly acidic, moist soil that is high in organic matter and well drained.


diagram showing roots of plant below groundFigure 3. A properly planted daylily.

Daylilies can be planted almost any time the soil can be worked. Till the soil deeply before planting. Work in well-rotted manure or compost to increase organic matter. Apply fertilizer based on a soil test. Contact your local Extension office for soil test information. Dig a hole large enough for the roots without bending or crowding them.

The best time to transplant or divide plants is early spring or immediately after flowering. Plants divided in the spring may not bloom the same summer. Divisions should have two to three stems or fans of leaves with all roots attached. Make divisions by digging the entire plant and gently pulling the fans apart. Cut the foliage back, leaving only five or six inches. Place the plant in the soil so the crown (the portion where the stem and root meets) is one inch below the ground line. Water thoroughly after planting. A winter mulch of straw or shredded leaves helps ensure against winter injury for unestablished plants.

Daylilies are vigorous growers and can be divided every three to four years.


In early spring, before growth starts, remove the dead foliage from the previous year’s growth and any weeds. A summer mulch helps eliminate or ease the unpleasant task of weeding. Perennial grasses can be difficult to eradicate if they become established within the clumps.

Although daylilies tolerate drought, they perform best in moist, but well-drained soils. One inch of water weekly is ideal, more frequent watering may be necessary on sandy soils.

Remove seed pods after bloom to prevent seed production. Plants producing seed are likely to have fewer flowers the following year.

Insect control measures usually are not necessary. Aphids and thrips sometimes feed on the flower buds. These pests can be controlled with insecticidal soaps or a repeated strong spray of water.

Annual fertilization may be helpful in producing more flowers. A spring application of manure or compost is beneficial each year.


More than 35,000 daylilies have been named, officially registered, and marketed. Many newly developed plants are introduced annually. Because of their scarcity, some of these new varieties sell for $100 or more, but there are many beautiful, modern cultivars available at reasonable prices. Specialty nurseries often carry thousands of different cultivars. The great majority of new cultivars are developed in southern regions of the United States. Minnesota’s short growing season requires cultivars that are adapted to grow quickly and still survive the long, cold winter.

Daylilies were traditionally plants that stopped growing and became dormant throughout the winter, but today there are semi-evergreen and evergreen cultivars. The first evergreen types were not hardy in the north, but with new introductions there are evergreen and semi-evergreen cultivars that are hardy and will grow and bloom well in Minnesota.

Another new characteristic is the ability to rebloom, or to bear more than one blooming scape per fan of leaves. To date, these reblooming cultivars are not successful in Minnesota due to the short growing season. Another guide to flower number is the bud count per scape or flowering stem. Stella de Oro is a cultivar known for numerous buds or flowers per scape.

Established daylily clumps often produce 200–400 flowers in a season. Bloom time extends from early to late summer. Each plant blooms for 30–40 days. With the large number of cultivars available, it is possible to have continuous bloom throughout the summer.

Daylily flowers come in many colors, shades, and color combinations. Some are very full and round, others have wide petals with ruffled edges and borders. Others, called spiders, are spidery in shape; doubles have double the number of petals and sepals. Many are nocturnal and very fragrant and other cultivars have branched flower scapes.

Daylilies are regional performers which means they grow well only in certain parts of the country, usually over three hardiness zones. For this reason, you should purchase daylilies from a local nursery, a nursery within the state, or a nursery in a neighboring state. If possible, visit a private or public garden such as the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum or a nursery that features daylilies to see which varieties grow in this area and select the ones you like.

The following daylilies are just a few of those that do well in Minnesota, but there are many new cultivars that are equally good.

Apricot or peach-colored Bertie Ferris
Doll House
Dress Circle
Little Rainbow
Naomi Ruth
Ruffled Apricot
Bicolor Addie Branch Smith
Becky Lynn
Bold One
Chicago Picotee Queen
Close Up
Frans Hals
Karen Sue
Painted Lady
Sea Warrior
Shady Lady
Siloam Bo Peep
Siloam Virginia Henson
Gold Golden Chimes
Golden Gift
Golden Milestone
Golden Prize
Golden Trinkets
Stella de Oro
Lavender to purple Chicago Knobby
Little Grapette
Little Lassie
Mountain Violet
Prairie Blue Eyes
Russian Rhapsody
Summer Wine
Two Bits
Velvet Shadows
Orange Bertie Ferris
By Myself
Carrot Top
Leprechauns Wealth
Pixie Parasol
Rocket City
Sombrero Way
Pink Barbara Mitchell, sev*
Cathrine Woodbury
Chicago Candy Cane
Evelyn Claar
Fairy Tale Pink, sev*
Halls Pink
Lullaby Baby, sev*
Siloam Double Classic
Wind Frills, ev**
Windsor Castle
Red Carey Quinn
Hearts Afire
Oriental Ruby
Red Mittens
Riley Barron
White and near white Crispin
Ice Carnival
Joan Senior, ev**
May, May, sev*
Serene Madonna
So Lovely
Yellow Bitsy
Brocaded Gown, sev*
Golden Prize
Happy Returns
Lemon Lollypop
Mary Todd
Mini Stella
Paradise Prince
Prairie Moonlight
So Sweet, ev**
Winning Ways
sev* = semi-evergreen; ev** = evergreen

Special thanks to Norman Baker, owner of Northstar Nurseries, and Julius Wadekamper for their assistance in compiling this fact sheet and cultivar list.

Source: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/flowers/growing-daylilies/

Photography of Daylilies

ansel walkerWe are going to talk about “ideal” circumstances, and as with everything else, “ideal” is subject to opinion. In this case, my opinion.

Much of what I am going to suggest will depend on what you intend to ultimately do with the photographs that you will be making. If you will have multiple uses for your photographs, you may want to take multiple photographs. If you want both slides and prints of an image, you can have a slide made from a negative, or you can have a negative made from a slide. But, the second and subsequent generations are never as good as the original.

  1. The Exposure
  • Exposure is determined by the f-stop and the period of time that the shutter is open. This determines the amount of light that gets to the film. The f-stop, or how large the opening is that lets in light, affects how much of the image is sharp, while shutter speed, or how long the light is permitted to strike the film, determines what is blurred from motion.
  • The f-stop affects the “depth of filed,” or how much of the image in front and behind where you focus the camera is in focus in the image. Since we will be very close to the subject daylily, you should use a small f-stop, either f-8 or f-16. This will permit you to get most of the flower in focus. You should pick a spot 1/3 back from the closest point that you want in focus, and adjust your camera on that spot, then most of your subject would be in focus.
  • Since motion is going to be controlled, we will let the shutter speed fall where it may. Since it may turn out to be a “long” time, the camera must be kept steady (see Supporting the Camera).
  1. Film Selection
  • Your first decision about the film that you will use is whether it will be slide film or print film. Do you want to carry the prints and be able to show them at meetings, or will you be giving slide shows to groups. For slides, you select a film name that ends in “chrome,” i.e. Kodachrome. If you want prints, you select a film name that ends in “color,” i.e. Kodacolor. Prints can be made from slides, but they are more expensive, and don’t have the tonal range of prints made from negatives.
  • Which brand of film will you use? Kodak generally attempts to reproduce “life like colors,” Fuji tends to produce bright, snappy colors, and Agfa tends to produce “earth tones.” Kodak and Fuji have different lines of film from the company. You will have to try to see which you prefer. Kodachrome 25 is the most true to life, highest resolution film made, but it is slow, and will probably require a tripod in most circumstances.
  • Which film speed will you select from the brand and line that you have selected? The lower the film speed/ASA/DIN, the higher the resolution of the film, but the more light that film requires to make an image. With ASA 25 film, you are limited to the middle of the day in direct sunlight, or with a powerful flash. Use a higher ASA, less light is required, but the color rendering and resolution isn’t as good.

Having said all of this, there are even other factors that may effect your selection of film. Most publishers prefer to have slides. If you intend to display the image on the World Wide Web, the service that will be transferring it to digital may have a preference. You may prefer one film, but find that conditions require another selection, so always be ready with a variety of film to choose from.

  1. Supporting the Camera
  • The object is to keep the camera still while you expose the film. There are many devices that have been developed to do this, sandbags, window clamps that will clamp onto your car window, but we are interested in tripods and monopods.
  • Tripods provide the best support that can be used in a garden. The advantage to a tripod is also its drawback. The heavier and bulkier, the more stable, but the more trouble to lug around. The lighter, the less stable. It is up to you to find a compromise. You should also make sure that the garden owner is agreeable to you using a tripod in his garden. You must be very very careful not to damage the daylilies. Never try to use a tripod on a tour; there are too many people. For this reason, I don’t take pictures of flowers when on a tour, I go back when there is no one else around.
  • Monopods are a good compromise for use on a tour, if you just have to take pictures of flowers. They don’t provide the rigid support of a tripod, but aren’t near as bulky or heavy.
  1. Camera and Lens Selection: Under no other heading does the claim that “You get what you pay for” apply as much, or can you go from $5.00 to $5,000.00 as easily. I’m going to try to avoid an argument, and not talk about brand, but will talk about features.
  • The camera should be adjustable to some degree. You need to control the f-stop, either directly or indirectly. Since you will be very close to your subject, you need this feature in order to maximize the depth of field. This is going to eliminate the “Point-N-Shoot” variety of camera.
  • You are going to want at least a “Macro” lens. Most of your pictures will be taken closer than normal, and if you aren’t at or near the focusing limit of the lens, your image will be better.
  • Your flash should be powerful. Not one of the built-in kind, but an auxiliary flash that puts out lots of light. After all, that is what you are doing, making a picture with light.

Tom Walker



Photography of Daylilies II

February 2000

Bloom season is only two to three months away, and most of us are thinking about making images of our prize daylilies, or we are thinking of making images of the daylilies that we plan to introduce next year. Lets say that you are going to take 100 rolls with 36 exposures on each roll, and each exposure lasts an average of 1/60th of a second. This means that your TOTAL EXPOSURE TIME for the whole year, the time that your shutter is open and exposing film for the whole year, will be 60 seconds. The film and processing for the year would cost you at least $800.00, maybe more. Let’s say that you are a very fast photographer, and shoot up six rolls a day. At that rate, it will take you 16 days to use all that film. You must be pretty serious about daylilies and photographing them.

By now, almost everyone should be wondering what I’m getting at. That the actual exposure is a very miniscule part of the making of a picture should have been realized by everyone. So what takes so much time? Planning a photograph, preparing the subject of your photograph, and keeping records of what you have photographed.

Today we are going to talk about the events leading up to making the exposure, before you even look through the camera.

  • First, the garden should be in prime condition. The same condition as it would be if a tour were expected. If you are the garden owner, this job would fall on you, if not, and you are taking pictures for yourself, then you will have to make each section that you will photograph, measure up to this standard. Remove all weeds, dead leaves, and other blemishes. If necessary, take a scissors to the brown or dieing leaves of plants. All of this is assuming that you have permission to do this grooming. If the garden owner has been hybridizing, you may have to work around the dead blooms. Be sure not to “dead head”, unless you have permission.
  • When you have found the bloom that you want to photograph, study it. What is it about that bloom that you like so much? Is it the color? Is it the texture? Is it perfectly shaped for this cultivar? How are you going to be able to get these characteristics on film?
  • In photographing for a catalog, what are you trying to show about this cultivar? Color? Texture? Shape? I think that the answer usually is “all three.”
  • When you are trying to catch the eye of a daylily buyer, the photograph is your first method of attraction. It should be as perfect as you can make it.

You need to perform all of these functions when you create images of your daylilies. If someone else does a better job of making a photograph, they may get the business. If you do, or you don’t, it will show in the reactions to your image, and possibly in your bank account.
Tom Walker

Abbreviations You Probably Won’t See In Catalogs

Richard Haynes & Jack Bilson Jr.
Following is an addendum to our previously published list.

The following was recently published in the Region 11 Magazine. I thought you might get a chuckle or two. It is perfectly OK to re-print as long as you identify the source. Take care all, Jack

FIP = Fake Invoice Provided — for those who have a spouse who thinks $10.00 or more is too much for any daylily.

MFG = Not to be Mistaken For Grass, sorry, our intros are really small this year.

WNI = For those of you with limited space, this intro Will Not Increase it’s number of fans regardless of how well you treat it. Ideal for container gardening!

POP = The color of this daylily is the Product of Photopaint. Thesecolors do not exist in the real world except in spray cans. We always blame the printer when people question why the color never looks like the catalog picture but really we hope to just get by those collectors that are color blind anyway. Thank you for not noticing that there are only 4 foliage designs among all the daylilies pictured. We were afraid that would be a dead give-away that these hems were not really photographed in a garden but assembled on the computer.

OOPS = we grow our OOPS plants in a special bed. When our markers have been lost and we can no longer identify a plant, rather than compost the clump, they are moved to this bed and renamed with non-registered AHS names…and given as gift plants to Newbies who hopefully do not own a checklist.

SOI = Sibling Of Intro–Hey, we ran out of the plants lined out to be sold, so we substituted a look-alike but not quite as robust sibling.

SC = Spin Color – Making the best presentation out of an unattractive daylily – given to rather ugly daylilies that are neither grey or brown but no really attractive color either…so instead of “grey-pale rose” we call it “Antique Rose”, instead of “dirty white” we call it “Ivory”, instead of “mud”, we call it “Victorian Leather”.

EYC = Eats Young Children (and small animals), this abbreviation will probably be used in the near future as the result of genetic engineering and the Florida Hybridizers who grow daylilies too close to evolving carnivorous plants.

MCC = Melted Cotton Candy – typically used to identify red and purple hems that are unable to withstand more than 90.25 minutes of direct sun.

NT = Never tested for growth or hardiness beyond the garden it was born into.

RTHG = Remove to heated greenhouse between the months of September through May.

PWI = Pink With Imagination

BWI = Blue With Imagination

PWR = Probably will repeat – needs to survive first winter in order to repeat bloom production in the second year.

DCWQ = Don’t call with questions as to whether we ship one or two fans. “What are fans? We sell single bulb daylilies.” – quote from a Customer Service Representative. “Probably more pests can be controlled in an armchair in front of a February fire with a garden notebook and a seed catalog than can ever be knocked out in hand-to-hand combat in the garden.” – President Lyndon B. Johnson

Memories of a National Lafayette 98

pelstate98And a bit we learned….

If at all Possible -Stay at the host hotel. You see more people, more fun and don‘t waste time commuting!

Get a room key for each person! Just Trust me. Check out the boutique, plant sale & auction items EARLY.

Get up early for the bus scramble. No assigned/reserved seats so “First come first on”. Get your group together and grab a bus to get seats together! If one of your group moves slow, save them a seat but tell them so they’ll find you. And busses will leave on time.

Get Breakfast really early or do take out.

No purses or bags to slow me down in the gardens. ID in my pocket with pad & pen. Tiny purse on bus. And don’t forget sun protection.

Take a small camera or video. But move fast & DON’T MISS YOUR BUS!

Food is great but you may never get to make these friends again so visit and view while in the gardens.

Sleep when I get home.

Visit with everyone I can and listen for good info.

Dress light and comfy shoes! Definitely no daytime fashion show. Save that for dinner. Get to banquets early.

We are the host club so talk to people. Introduce yourself even if you’re shy, they’ll be glad you did (they’re shy too). Just say your name and that we’re glad they came. You’ll be surprised and gifted with a return smile. And we all can ask about their daylilies, right?

But most of all, enjoy it!