Cultivating day lilies has long been a popular choice for gardeners who want beautiful spring and summer gardens. Considered by many experienced horticulturists to be the "perfect perennial" because of the wide variety of heights, colors, shapes, and patterns that day lilies offer, as well as varying preferences for soil and temperature conditions allowing lilies to be planted in a variety of settings, Day lilies will never go out of style. Day lilies were long considered to be a member of the Liliaceae family, but more recently were reclassified under the genus Heremocallis. The word "day lily" can be spelled as two separate words but is often spelled as a single word, "daylily". Both versions are correct and refer to the same plant. Day lilies are easy to grow and care for, require little maintenance beyond protection from the colder temperatures of winter, and their blooming season can extend well into the fall. To begin cultivating day lilies in a home garden setting, consider these tips from experienced gardeners to ensure your day lilies are healthy and vibrant all year long.
Day lilies are remarkably adaptable to a variety of sunlight, soil, temperature, and moisture conditions. Yet day lilies do have preferences. Certain varietals in particular do prefer full sunlight, and these types will thrive with access to at least six hours of full sunlight daily. Other varietals will endure partial shade with few adverse effects. This can be researched once the particular varietal to be planted has been chosen. If shade occurs when the temperatures rise to the hottest point in the day, this can be beneficial to day lilies. Day lilies also prefer not to have to compete with other garden neighbors for moisture and nutrients, so planting them away from plants that are moisture or nutrient intensive can be a good strategy. Day lilies can do well in a variety of soil conditions, but will often prefer a soil with slightly acidic properties that is nutrient enriched and moist. However, all soil should drain well or day lilies will fail to thrive. Too much moisture around roots will lead to decay and root rot.
Day lilies should always be planted in the spring or the fall seasons to avoid the temperature extremes that can cause bulbs to fail to germinate. Frost can kill geminating shoots, so lilies should be secure in the ground well before the first frost hits. Additionally, the extreme temperatures of summer can dry out lily bulbs and kill germinating roots. Day lilies can be germinated in pots indoors if an early spring planting is desired, and transplanted as soon as the ground warms, ensuring an early bloom. For best results, transplant both the lily bulb and the surrounding soil to a hole in the free soil. In this way, the root shoots are completely undisturbed and the lily bulb is well insulated as it adapts to its new environment with differing soil temperatures.
Day lilies are easy to plant. Before planting, ensure that the soil has adequate drainage. It can be a good idea to work the soil with a rake to ensure there are no large obstacles like rocks or soil clumps that can interfere with growing lily roots. Adding compost matter or manure can add nutrient enhancement to the soil. Do a soil test for pH to determine how much matter to add to existing soil. Spacing should take into account the size of the lilies at maturity. For smaller lilies, leave approximately one and a half feet between plantings. For larger lilies, leave two or more feet between plantings. Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the bulb and approximately six to 12 inches below the soil surface depending on the size of the bulb. Next, create a small soil mound directly in the center of the hole. Carefully spread out the new lily roots if they are showing, and plant the bulb on top of the mound with the roots spreading out around it. The tip of the lily bulb should not rest more than one inch below the topsoil surface or the bulb will die. Fill the hole with loose soil and water very well to remove air pockets. Mulch lightly around the new planting.
Day lilies are very easy to care for. Be sure to water and fertilize lily bulbs well during the growing and blooming seasons. Water and fertilization can be decreased when lilies go dormant in the winter.