Growing Daylilies: What You Should Know to be Successful
Credit: Anne Norman via Wikimedia Commons

Daylilies, or simply lilies, are beautiful flowers distinguished by six petals shaped like a trumpet. They brighten any landscape with both their beauty and their smell, and best of all, they are easy flowers to grow. Some types of lilies are known to be some of the most fragrant flowers in the world and offer a wide selection of colors to brighten any landscape.

If you prefer shorter plants, perhaps you should look elsewhere because some varieties of lily flowers can grow as tall as six to eight feet, however, there are plenty of choices in the one to three foot range.

My family has been growing lilies of all types for years so here is what I know.

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Types of Lilies

Growing Daylilies: What You Should Know to be SuccessfulCredit: OpensourceThere are nine classification types of lilies, but the most common are Asiatic and Oriental.[2]

Asiatic varieties are considered the easiest types to grow, so they are great for the novice gardener. They range in color from pink, yellow, orange, red and white. Most grow between one and six feet tall and bloom early in the last spring, early summer.

Oriental varieties bloom later in the year, typically around July to September. So if your idea is to have a lily garden for most of the year, you should plant both varieties so that when the Asiatic lilies begin to fade, the Oriental ones will take over. Oriental lilies typically grow between two and eight feet tall in red, white, pink or multi colored blooms, and offer a stronger fragrance, particularly at night.[1]

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How to Plant Lilies

Growing Daylilies: What You Should Know to be Successful
Credit: Opensource

Lilies do best when planted in full sun, at least six to eight hours a day, and in soil that is moist, yet does not hold standing water.

If you are planning on starting a lily garden, the best time to plant is in the fall. Most lilies prefer an acidic soil, but there are varieties that require neutral or alkaline soils, so be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging.

When decided on your area for your daylilies, prepare the soil by mixing in composting material such as peat moss. Make sure the soil is moist, yet well-drained. Till it to a depth of about 12 inches to allow for deeper roots for the taller varieties.

To plant the bulbs, dig a hole at least twice as deep as the height of the lily and place in the hole. The pointed side of the bulb should point upward. Tamp the soil gently around the bulb. Place additional lily bulbs at least four to six inches apart.

After planting, water thoroughly and then add mulch around the base of the plants to retain moisture.

Lilies actually do better when planted with other types of ground cover plants because they help to keep them from drying out.

Maintaining Your Lilies

Growing Daylilies: What You Should Know to be Successful
Credit: Opensource

Daylilies will bloom at the beginning of summer with variation growing up to five feet tall. Most blooms last a day, hence the name, but will bloom again in successive weeks. There are other types of lilies that will bloom throughout the year.

During the summer growth months, you need to water frequently fertilize the plant with high-potash every two to three weeks.

When the lilies start to get taller, you will probably need to stake anything over a foot to keep it from falling over.

To maintain your lilies, you must protect them from their main adversary, a disease called daylily rust or gray mold. The spores thrive on moisture, so the main defense is to water your lilies carefully at the appropriate time, never late in the evening when water will stay on the plant.[1]

The best time to water is in the morning which will allow the moisture to dry from the leaves.

If you live in a rural area, you need to have some kind of protective fencing around your property because lilies are a favorite or wildlife, particularly deer and rabbits.

There are products you can buy which will repel deer, or you can cage the plant is a tight type of wire like chicken wire.

However, if you plan on fencing the area, your fence will have to be at least 6 foot tall or the deer will simply jump over it.

At the end of the blooming season, cut the stalk down to the base.

How to Divide Lilies

Growing Daylilies: What You Should Know to be Successful
Credit: Opensource

After your lilies mature, you can divide each one without harming the plants.  

The best time to divide lilies is at the end of their blooming season, which depending on the variety could be the middle of the summer or early fall.[1]

Dividing daylilies is relatively simple. First, dig up the lily with a shovel, making sure you cut into the dirt several inches away from the root bulb in order to avoid damaging it. Remove the entire clump of dirt from the ground with the shovel.

To cut the root ball, you need a pair of garden sheers or a large knife. I have even used the shovel to cut the lily root ball into sections, but a knife allows for more precision.

Press the knife between the section of leaves coming out of the roots and cut all the way through it. As you cut, pull the sections of the lily away from the root ball and temporarily place in a bucket with shallow water.

When you have all of your lilies divided, proceed with transplanting daylilies immediately with peat moss or other composting material.

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