Daylilies: A Low-Maintenance Landscape Plant

Daylillies in bloom. Image Credit UF IFAS
Daylillies in bloom. Image Credit UF IFAS

The daylily is a popular flowering perennial that adapts well to Florida landscape statewide. Plants are available in a wide variety of growth habits, flower shapes and colors, including yellow, orange, red, pink, and purple, near white and shades and combinations of all of these. Flowering starts in March for early-season bloomers while late-season daylilies won’t bloom until mid-May. Select early and late-season bloomers to extend the flowering season. The typical bloom period is about four to seven weeks, although some varieties bloom even longer.

Daylilies are members of the lily family, in the genus hemerocallis; “Hemero” is Greek for “day” and callis for “beauty”. The flower buds and petals are edible raw, boiled, stir-fried, steamed, or batter and fried. Dried daylily petals, call “golden needles”, are used in numerous Chinese dishes. The modern varieties of daylilies have been developed from native Chinese spices. Early settlers from Europe and Asia brought many of the original species with them to America. During the last 75 years, hybridizers in the United States and England have made great improvement in daylily varieties.

Raising daylilies is fairly simple, but first you have to make sure you’re choosing the right varieties for our area of the state. Daylilies are classified into three groups according to their growth habits – deciduous, semi-evergreen, and evergreen.

As you might expect, the deciduous daylily varieties die back in the winter. They do well in our area. But they don’t receive enough cold weather in South Florida. On the other hand, the evergreen varieties generally grow best in areas with mild winters.

Daylilies may be planted any time of year, but hey usually do best if they’re planted right after flowering. Once they’re established, these lilies need only minimum care.

Proper planting bed preparation is a critical factor in raising daylilies. They are replanted only every five to ten years, so the flower bed needs to have a soil of good quality. The lilies grow best on a well-drained soil with good aeration and good water holding capacity. Sandy soil usually provides the necessary aeration, but they don’t hold water very well. On the other hand, clay soils have good water holding properties, but they don’t provide the aeration lilies need. If your soil is sandy, you need to add two to four inches of peat moss and work it into a depth of sixth to eight inches. If your soil has a great deal of clay in it, you might want to add about an inch of perlite or similar material to increase aeration.

Prior to planting, the flower bed should be fertilized with several inches of a good compost, or 8-8-8 / 10-10-10 mixture, at the rate of two-and-a-half pounds per 100 square feet. An inch or so of water should be applied once or twice a week until the plants are well established. Twice each year, fertilize with the same two-and-a-half pounds of 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 per 100 square feet. Apply the fertilizer evenly, keeping it off the foliage.

Daylilies have a tendency to become crowded, and when this happens, flowers production is reduced. If crowding occurs, you’ll need to divide to the plants by digging them up and severing the Rhizome between the fans of leaves with a sharp knife. Cut the leaves back to within four to six inches of the crown and replant the division.

Daylilies can be planted in a variety of ways to enhance your landscape in informal groupings, in small groups in the space between shrubs or in front of a fence or wall which will serve as a background.


Posted: May 20, 2014

Category: Horticulture
Tags: Bulbs, Daylillies, Panhandle Gardening


Samantha Kennedy

May 22, 2020

Merry, I never use salt when cooking rice and prefer to add a little bit of butter instead of olive oil because I like the taste butter imparts. However, neither olive oil nor butter are necessary for cooking rice. Another great way to cook rice is by using chicken broth instead of water. The finished rice has a delicious chicken flavor that can boost the overall richness of the final product. As for short- and medium-grain vs. long-grain rice, they are not created equal. You will generally not get the same results from short- or medium-grain rice as you will from long-grain rice, especially if a recipe specifically calls for long-grain rice. Long-grain rice, when cooked, is dry and loose, whereas short- and medium-grain rice is sticky and clumps together. For fried rice, long-grain is best. Short-grain rice is great for rice pudding and sushi, whereas medium-grain rice is best used for dishes such as risotto. Samantha Kennedy, M.S. Family and Consumer Sciences Agent UF/IFAS Extension Wakulla County

Merry Pearl
May 21, 2020

This is quite helpful. Being in self isolation quite a distance from home, I inevitably needed a culinary companion. This site has been the guide I so much needed. Cooking rice is the combination of art and science. I sometimes see chefs sprinkling salt and olive oil when preparing rice, what’s your take on this? And would you get the same results if you used short or medium grain variety?

Renee Perry
August 19, 2016

Thanks for writing about organic gardening. More and more gardeners are turning to it, but there are still more to convince. I want to correct the notion that organic gardens require lots of work, particularly weeding. I practice a form of organic gardening that uses heavy mulches to suppress weeds. Mulches also protect the soil from burning up under our hot subtropical sun, promote beneficial microbial activity, and add organic matter to the soil when they eventually break down. This results in an average of about 5 minutes a month spent weeding a 1500 square foot garden. I'm guessing it takes quite a bit longer than that to spray poisonous herbicides over the same area. I've been using this method for over 17 years with wonderful results and would never go back to bare earth gardening.

Matthew Orwat
July 18, 2016

I am not familiar with nurseries in Okaloosa County, but you should try calling the extension office located at 3098 Airport Road Crestview, FL 32539 Phone: (850) 689-5850 or email the horticulture agent Larry Williams

Glen Pratt
July 17, 2016

Where can I find a kumquat tree in Okaloosa County?

Ray Bodrey

June 29, 2016

Hi Donna. For better results, zoysiagrass require frequent fertilization. Periodic soil testing should be conducted every 2 to 3 years as the basis for applications of lime and fertilization. Your local county extension office can help with your soil testing needs. Soil test results will help determine management measures, such as to maintain the proper soil pH between the desired range of 6.0 to 6.5 and keep the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium levels at recommended levels. For minimum maintenance, it is recommended to apply between 2 to 3 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of zoysiagrass lawn per year in north Florida. To accomplish this, apply a complete fertilizer such as 16-4-8, 13-13-13, or10-10-10 at least three times a year in April, June, and August.

June 22, 2016

So what months should zoysia be fertilized and with what type fertilizer? I put it my small backyard a couple years ago.

Ann Poppy
May 1, 2016

Two green thumbs up! Old-timers here in Pensacola say you can pinch back azaleas 'til the Fourth of July and still get a good bloom; this works well for me. (They also say you should plant your potatoes and fertilize your rose bushes on Valentine's Day and that you can pinch back your poinsettias until Labor Day. This also works well for me as far as the rose bushes and poinsettias go. I haven't tried potatoes yet, but maybe I'll try planting some on Valentine's Day, 2017.)

Lectii Apicultura
March 20, 2016

Very well written article, and easy to follow

Mary Derrick
June 10, 2015

We know all about plants, but not about the law. You may want to consult a lawyer or state agency that deals with these issues. Good luck!

May 31, 2015

Can the HOA's stop you from having a small garden? There is nothing in the Master Documents that address this issue in particular.

May 28, 2015

Ants are also amazing. They aerate the soil, help with decomposition and waste removal, plant seeds, and are food for many birds and other animals. I'm all for getting rid of the invasive fire ants but I'd discourage people from killing the other ants in their yards.

August 20, 2014

Thanks for the timely article. One of the things I dislike about vacations is that I have to leave my plants unattended. I think the points you raised were just perfect. As to houseplants, I would only add that there are self-watering systems one can use as well. They’re better than nothing if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time. Richard

August 1, 2014

Hello Roy, My wife and I have been raising bees for about a year. As novice beekeepers we are seeking natural methods instead of the chemical practices you mentioned in the article to ensure a healthy hive in the spring. We are open to any suggestions you may have. Thank you in advance for your help. Brett

c. orchard
May 24, 2014

Great article but you did not mention soil Ph. I have quite a few daylilies but their foliage is slightly yellow. I have used a good fertilizer but wonder if the Ph is not right. Thanks for any information you can provide. Carolyn

loupa pius
November 8, 2013

am really happy for the services you offer to, to me am a student studying apiculture in uganda, am more interested in knowing how robbing occurs within on colony. thanks to you

Matthew Orwat
November 6, 2013

William, thanks for your question. This is a common issue, since many folks apply fertilizer to centipede grass late in the year to green it up. Doing this does little or nothing for greening up the lawn and can actually harm the grass by encouraging growth when it is entering its dormant period. This can also encourage late season root rots. As a general rule, I would recommend the last application of fertilizer to Centipede and St. Augustine in mid September. Absolutely no ferteilzer should be applied after September 31st. For more information, take a look at this publication on Centipedegrass from UF IFAS Extension. Hope this helps, Matt

William Dockery
November 5, 2013

Mr. Carter- i work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and need to know when the best time to apply fall fertilizer to St. Augustine and Centipede grass; I learned in an earlier artical about the right time to apply lawn fertilizer for the spring is after the soil has warmed up...but didn't see anything mentioned about fall/winter applications. Your response is greatly appreciated. Thank you, William Doc Dockery

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