Best Daylilies - Hemerocallis Flava, Stella de Oro...
Tough, versatile and graceful, daylilies are long-flowering too, despite their name. Each flower may only last a day, but new buds appear in quick succession for weeks or even months.
Depending on the variety, they will open into double, ruffled, diamond-dusted, spidery or trumpet-shaped flowers. Daylily colors range from nearly white to nearly black, with only true blue missing. Perhaps that's why they're often called the perfect perennials.
How to Plant Daylilies
Daylilies will usually flower away with very little effort on your part. Just plant them between early fall and spring, in well-drained, fertile soil, 18 to 24 inches apart, with the crown around one inch below the soil's surface. Full sun is usually best, although a few of the older varieties will stand some shade.
What No Flowers?
In the unlikely event your Daylilies don't flower, they could be congested, hungry or thirsty. Daylilies should be kept well watered and well fed. Feed with a high potash and phosphorus fertilizer at the start of the growing season and again when the lilies are flowering. Don't overfeed though as that will give you lots of lush foliage and few flowers.
Make sure they get about an inch of water a week. Deadhead regularly and cut spent scapes (flower stalks) down to the ground.
Top Five Daylilies
There are thousands of varieties of daylilies, but here are just some of the best - from the most sweetly scented to the least trouble.
1) Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus - Hemerocallis Flava, Lemon Lily
This is one of the first daylilies to be hybridized, and many modern varieties are related to it. Beautiful in itself, it has large lemon-colored, sweet-scented, trumpet-shaped flowers from mid to late spring. As it grows wild, it's a good doer - as tough as a weed, shade tolerant and extremely cold hardy. It can grow to 3ft.
Try it with a yellow Erythronium, such as Erythronium oregonum 'Sulphur', which also has lily-shaped flowers, but contrasting broad marbled foliage in April and possibly May.
2) Hemerocallis 'Stella de Oro'
Daylily Stella de Oro
A small (12", 30cm) but hugely popular reblooming yellow Daylily, which will flower like mad from early summer to fall if fed with a potash-rich liquid fertilizer. It loves full sun. Winner of the American Hemerocallis Society's Stout Silver Medal in 1985. Looks great in drifts.
3) Hemerocallis 'Golden Chimes'
Orange Yellow Daylily
An unfussy, robust, free-flowering and graceful Daylily, Golden Chimes has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. It carries star-shaped orangey yellow flowers with brown-backed petals. It will tolerate boggy soil and some shade.
Daylily 'Golden Chimes' is diploid and dormant. Masses of 5" (12.5cm) flowers are produced early midseason, with an extended blooming habit. Height is 30" (75cm).
4) Hemerocallis 'Gentle Shepherd' - One of the best white Daylilies
This is an elegant, white, ruffled daylily with a pale green throat. Free-flowering, it mixes well with other perennials, such as purple Geraniums and Aquilegias. Hemerocallis 'Gentle Shepherd' is semi-evergreen in warm areas. Excellent for ground cover.
'Gentle Shepherd' Daylily is diploid and diurnal. It flowers early midseason, and grows to a height of 30" (75cm).
5) Hemerocallis 'Black Plush' - Black Plush Daylily
Although true Black Daylilies don't exist, plenty are very dark purple or nearly black. 'Black Plush' is probably the most striking without being overbearing. It carries exquisite 6" spider flowers with yellow-orange throats and stripes on 30" (75cm) plants.
Flowers are produced mid season, and 'Black Plush' is semi-evergreen.
Hemerocallis 'Marion Vaughn'
These beautiful star-shaped fragrant lemon flowers will lift any border or steal the show in a pot.
This is an evergreen, fully hardy (zones 3 to 10), nocturnal, diploid daylily, which flowers midseason. Foliage is darkish green and flowers are 4" (10cm) across.
Hemerocallis fulva - Orange Daylily, Tawny Daylily, Tiger Daylily, Ditch Daylily
Another species daylily, Hemerocallis fulva is related to thousands of modern cultivars. It's very easy to grow, in fact a bit too easy, as it can become invasive.
It will usually flower from July to August and grows to about 3ft (1m). Shade tolerant.
Daylily Happy Returns
Hemerocallis Happy Returns
Happy Returns is a popular and reliable daylily. A first flush of fragrant canary yellow flowers appears May/June (extra early), followed by continuous flushes until the first frost. These medium-sized flowers (3", 7.5cm) are held aloft dense clumps of low-growing ((14", 35cm) grass-like leaves, excellent for ground cover and for path edging.
Hemerocallis Happy Returns is dormant in winter, with an extended bloom habit. It will tolerate some shade.