What are Day Lilies?

If you’re looking for a drought resistant, long lived, hardy  and easy to care for perennial to solve some of your landscaping problems, then day lilies (Hemerocallis spp) may be just what you’re looking for.
With their arching sword like leaves and large trumpet shaped blooms, they create a colorful border.  Daylilies thrive in zones 3 to 9, in full to part sun, in most soils, but prefer a moist well-drained site. Keep your daylilies watered so both the foliage and blossoms are at their best.

Because they are so hardy, day lilies are a great choice for hard to landscape areas. Although each bloom lasts only for a day, the plant blossoms for up to six weeks. This is a longer season than most perennials, adding bright color to the garden for weeks. Choose different varieties that bloom at different times, and you can enjoy these colourful big blooms all summer long. Once a stem has finished blooming, remove it by cutting it off close to the ground.

Golden yellow daylilies brighten a border.

Day lilies prefer growing in full sun, but are not really fussy about it. They will continue to bloom, but will produce fewer and fewer blossoms if overcrowded. It’s best to divide the clumps every few years as they multiply and become overcrowded. By dividing daylilies into smaller clumps and replanting them, you give them more growing room, revitalizing the plants.

This crimson daylily is a favourite.

When to Divide Day Lilies

You can divide your daylilies almost any time. That’s how hardy they are. Early spring before the plants set buds and late summer or early fall after they have finished blooming are the best times. Lift the overgrown clump from the soil using a sharp spade or a garden fork.

Next, take two garden forks  and push the forks back to back into the midst of the clump.  This can take quite a bit of effort, since the roots and and tubers are twined together. Pull the garden fork handles apart, forcing the roots to separate into two smaller clumps.  If the clump is really large, separate it into several divisions.


This method works well, but if you don’t own two garden forks, you can divide day lilies  by cutting through the clump with a sharp spade or a knife. If your soil is loose, you may even be able to pull the separate tubers apart. Don’t worry about cutting some of the fleshy roots – they’ll still grow.

I’ve even washed the soil from an entire clump, freeing the roots from the soil. Separating them by hand into smaller divisions was easier. I then immediately replanted them, making sure to water each new planted clump well.

To replant the daylily divisions, dig a wide shallow hole about six inches wider than the rootball of your day lilies.  Place the rootball in the hole with the crown at the same level it was before you divided it. Fill around it, tamp the soil into place and water thoroughly. Add mulch around the plants to help retain moisture and keep weeds away while the plants re-establish themselves.

Leave the foliage on each clump if you’re dividing your daylilies in spring. If you’re dividing them in fall, trim back the foliage to about 8 inches so the new plants can put energy into establishing a strong root system.

By the following summer, you’ll be rewarded with even more of these lovely blooms gracing your gardens and borders.

About the Author

Nicki is a dedicated gardener, a creative artist and a published author. Passionate about what she does, her gardening articles, books and paintings reveal her love of nature and the western Canadian scene. She loves sharing her container garden success with others to inspire their creativity.

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