If your only experience with Hemerocallis has been the orange “ditch” or “outhouse” lilies, you’re in for an eye-opening, happy surprise.
Daylilies are so easy-care it’s no wonder they are often the backbone of a summer garden. These perennials are not picky about soil conditions, are drought tolerant, and are rarely troubled by pests and diseases. They only ask for a place in full sun (that’s 6 hours of direct sunlight) and a well draining soil.
Even though each flower only lasts one day, a single plant will keep producing blooms for weeks.
With a plant this easy, it’s no wonder it’s beloved by hybridizers around the world. They have created cultivars in all sizes, with a range of flower colors and bloom times that is seemingly unending. In May 2018, the American Daylily Society counted 89,000 registered cultivars. How do you choose when the palette is so vast?
Many gardeners choose daylilies by flower color. In this article, let’s look at foliage type, size, bloom time, and flower style.
Daylily Foliage Types
You might see daylilies for sale based on their foliage type. Know that all day lilies will grow in USDA zones 3 to 9 but some cultivars have foliage that persists through the winter. It is the foliage that persists, not the flowers. Daylilies will not bloom out of season.
The foliage of dormant types dies all the way back in late autumn, and sends up new foliage in the spring. If you are in zone 8 and higher, there are evergreen cultivars that hold their foliage through the winter. Semi-evergreen varieties can be evergreen if the winter is mild or go dormant if the winter is harsh.
If you live in a warm zone, you might want to use the foliage of an evergreen variety for winter interest.
1. Joan Sr.
Evergreen ‘Joan Sr.’ grows 2 to 3 feet tall with large, 6 inch flowers. The flowers are near white and ruffled. An early midseason variety, not only is it evergreen, it also reblooms. A classic for a reason!
2. Pandora’s Box
‘Pandora’s Box’ is also an early midseason evergreen variety that reblooms. The flowers are cream with a purple eye and 4 inches across on a 20 inch tall plant.
3. Strawberry Candy
‘Strawberry Candy’ is semi evergreen with foliage that reaches 18 inches high. The coral pink flowers are 4 inches across on 24 inch scapes. This early mid-season award winner is also a rebloomer and does well in containers.
Daylily size is determined by the height of the scape (the stem that holds the flowers above the foliage) or by the size of the flowers.
From the tiny ‘My Honey Child’ at only 6 inches high, to the giant ‘Sears Tower’ with 6 foot scapes, you can find hemerocallis cultivars to fit any garden.
Usually under 20 inches, these can be plants that are small themselves, or plants have flowers 3 inches in diameter or smaller.
4. Stella d’Oro
‘Stella d’Oro’ is the classic that you see everywhere! There’s a good reason for that: this daylily produces brilliant golden yellow 3” flowers all season long.
5. Happy Returns
If ‘Stella” is too bright for your garden, consider ‘Happy Returns’. The 3 inch flowers of this small rebloomer are a softer yellow.
Between 20 inches and 3 feet tall, there are a lot of these cultivars! They fit in nicely with a lot of other summer perennials.
6. Ed Murray
‘Ed Murray’ is a mid-season bloomer with dark maroon 4 inch flowers. Another award winner, it reaches 30 inches tall.
7. South Seas
‘South Seas’ is also 30 inches tall and has 5 inch flowers that are a glowing coral. This is a mid-season rebloomer.
These are daylilies with scapes that are over 3 feet tall. These gorgeous skyscraper daylilies are best for the back of the border.
8. Wild Horses
The cream and purple flowers of ‘Wild Horses’ are 7 inches on 3 foot tall plants. This early season daylily is also a rebloomer, and a very showy one, too.
9. August Flame
‘August Flame’ reaches almost 40 inches tall and has 5 inch orange flowers. It’s a late season bloomer and would look amazing in front of sunflowers.
Daylily Bloom Time
Daylilies are often sold by their bloom time. From the very early to the very late bloomers, it’s possible to plan a parade of Hemerocallis flowers from March to November, depending on your hardiness zone.
There are also rebloomers, which will either give you a burst of flowers early in the season and another burst later, or cultivars have one big bloom time and then produce a smaller amount of flower stalks throughout the summer.
10. Rosey Returns
‘Rosey Returns’ blooms extra early, and is a rebloomer too. At only 16 inches tall, it qualifies as a miniature, but there’s nothing small about its nearly 4 inch wide pink flowers. And it’s fragrant!
11. Indian Giver
‘Indian Giver’ is a mid-season rebloomer with 4 inch purple flowers on a 20 inch tall plant.
12. Autumn Wood
At 24 inches tall, ‘Autumn Wood’ has 5 inch flowers that bloom in a blend of peach, yellow, and pink. It’s a mid-late season bloomer, and well worth the wait.
13. Pardon Me
We’ve already mentioned a few reblooming varieties, but let’s look at one more: ‘Pardon Me. Its fragrant, cranberry colored, 3 inch flowers don’t show up until later in the season, but then it blooms till frost.
Daylily Flower Styles
The American Daylily Society recognizes 7 different flower styles for exhibition, and 6 other flower style descriptions. Let’s look at a few of them.
A daylily is considered single when it has 3 sepals, 3 petals, 1 pistil and 6 stamens.
14. Sunday Gloves
With this very classic flower shape, ‘Sunday Gloves’ has nearly white 5 inch flowers with ruffled petals. It’s a very fragrant early mid-season rebloomer.
15. Sachen Red Double
Double flowered are varieties that have more than one layer of petals or stamens. ‘Sachen Red Double’ has 5 inch red flowers on 28 inch scapes. It blooms midseason.
16. Spider Daylily
A spider daylily has long petals, with a length to width ratio of at least 4 to 1. Spiders have large flowers, and on 3 foot tall scapes, the 9 inch red flowers of ‘Ruby Spider’ really stand out. This award winner blooms early in summer.
17. Heavenly Angel Ice
Unusual form daylilies have flowers that are curled, curled back (reflexed), quilted, twisted, hooked, pinched, or shaped like a spoon (spatulate). ‘Heavenly Angel Ice’ has white 8 inch blooms that are ruffled and twisted. It’s a mid to late season bloomer and the scapes are 3 feet tall.
18. Custard Candy
Circular flowers have petals that curve back. The flower looks like a circle when viewed from above. ‘Custard Candy’ has 4 inch cream colored flowers with a maroon eye. They are reblooming, mid-season perennials with 24 inch scapes.
19. Little Grapette
Triangular flowers look like a triangle when viewed from above, and stars look like, well, stars.
‘Little Grapette’ is sweet and small with 2 inch purple flowers on a 15 inch plant. It blooms early and is fragrant. Star shaped ‘Bonanza’ is an early rebloomer with 5 inch, gold and red flowers on 24 inch scapes.
Once you start collecting daylilies, you might find you’re going to need a bigger garden.