How to Deadhead Daylilies

Daylilies are beautiful when they are blooming, but their flowers eventually wilt. How do you deadhead them?

Daylilies have magnificent blooms. However, eventually, the inevitable happens, and flowers will start to wilt. What is the proper way to deadhead?

Why Should You Deadhead?

The removal of blossoms from a plant after it has flowered and the blossoms have begun to die is known as deadheading.

When you deadhead flowers, you change the flow of energy. Instead of directing the plant’s energy toward seed creation, you’re encouraging it to generate more flowers. Consequently, you’ll get more blossoms if you deadhead the flower stalk instead of letting it form seed pods that mature during the summer and burst in the autumn.

But is it really necessary to deadhead daylilies if you don’t have a reblooming variety?

The answer is yes, and there are several reasons:

  • Faded daylily flowers are unappealing. The wasted blossoms quickly turn to mush and then dry over the immature buds, preventing them from opening. By removing the dead flowers, this can be avoided.
  • Daylilies that have not been deadheaded will yield seed pods. Seed production interferes with root and shoot growth, limiting the possibility for future blooming. 
  • Flowers on their way out make a mess in the garden as well. The removal of old flowers improves the plant’s aesthetic and the surrounding garden environment.

Know the Difference Between Buds and Seed Pods

Daylily seed pods might be difficult to identify if you are unfamiliar with their appearance. So, how can you distinguish between a seed and a bud?

Take a look at these photographs to learn how to distinguish between buds and seeds.

Immature daylily flower with some water moisture

This is how the buds appear. They’re easier to spot when they’re surrounded by other buds on the verge of blooming. They have a smooth outer surface and get stretched from a smaller diameter before the bud opens and the petals form. The color of the blossom typically begins to appear on the outside of the flower before it opens.

Yellow daylily pods growing in the garden

This is what a daylily seed pod looks like. They’re wrinkled and bulbous, with one standing upright on a stalk. It’s worth noting that there’s no smaller diameter going up to the growing bulb. They are also a light green color. As it matures, the seed pod will get larger, wrinkle more, and become lighter in color, eventually turning brown.

How to Deadhead Correctly

When the plants are in full bloom, all you have to do is use your fingers to snap off the spent flower heads and seed pods.

Although it takes some time, it is not difficult to do. Deadhead your daylilies as needed, but don’t feel obligated to do it on a daily basis. Make sure you do it at least a couple of times during their blooming phase to prevent the plants from expending energy on developing ripe seeds.

After all the blooms on the scape have finished blossoming, cut a single stalk to the ground.

As the summer progresses and the bloom time ends, the foliage begins to brown and look ragged. “Comb” out the brown leaves with your fingers, pulling hard on the tough ones. The plant will develop new green leaves if you cut it all the way down to the ground.

Dried and dying leaves of a daylily

Rebloomers Like Stella D’Oro Will Keep Blooming Until Frost

Below is a photo of the everblooming Stella D’Oro daylily. This perennial will start blooming with golden, yellow flowers in May and will last until the first hard frost. If you deadhead them (cut off the old flower stalks at the base), you will get more flowers than if you leave the stalks up to form seed pods, which will mature and burst in the autumn.

While not needed, deadheading will increase the plant’s performance. And, let’s face it, in a perennial garden, flower power is everything!

Yellow daylily flower blooming in the garden

Do Not Cut Foliage on Rebloomers

The leaves of rebloomers should not be cut! You could accidentally cut off the newly growing flower stems. For a neater appearance, only remove the browning leaves.

Late in the autumn, trim the leaves to about 3 inches. Some gardeners put off removing the leaves until the next spring. It all comes down to how well-organized you want your winter garden to be.

If you have evergreens, prune the damaged leaves in the spring before new growth begins.

Dead daylily roots in the garden
Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
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