Advice & Guides

Hemerocallis (Day lily)

Hemerocallis (Day lily)

There aren’t many plants that offer so many flowers in such a variety of colours and that, providing you plant a mixture of early, mid and late-flowerers, can provide you with blooms from Spring to the end of Summer.

The name Hemerocallis, combining the Greek words for day (hemero) and beautiful (kalos), refers to the fact that a day lily flower is open for only one day, although each stalk has multiple buds which open over several days.


There are thousands of day lily hybrids available but for an early flowerer you’ll want the species H. dumortieri. Lovely clear yellow flowers open from dark red buds and the emerging fresh green foliage is perfect for camouflaging wilting spring bulbs.

Another species, H. lilioasphodelos (old name H. flava) has trumpet-shaped pale lemon flowers, sweetly scented, held on tall stems. The flowers open in the early evening and perfume the air. They really are beautiful. Yet another fragrant choice is H.‘Stella d’Oro‘. Golden yellow flowers with small green throats, it blooms from May until July, the foliage forming a dense clump that makes excellent ground cover. It’ll be very happy in a pot on the patio where you can appreciate its perfume.

Mid-season hybrids such as H.‘Little Red Hen‘ – a rich velvety red, and H.‘Mauna Loa‘, a deep orange-gold, combine well with achillea, echinacea and Verbena bonariensis.

Choose H.‘Happy Returns‘, a late flowerer with clear yellow, slightly ruffled petals to plant alongside rudbeckia and perovskia. For the early-flowering H. lilioasphodelos, the soft blue of Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low‘ works well.

Growing conditions

If you follow Beth’s ethos of ‘right plant, right place‘ and are familiar with the nursery, you will have noticed that some of the companion plants I’ve mentioned can tolerate quite dry conditions (V. bonariensis and perovskia), but hemerocallis will be found on the ‘General‘ section of the nursery.

Should these be planted together?

Well, hemerocallis are so unfussy and adaptable that I don’t see it as a problem. As long as they get a little moisture in the Spring as the plant is making stalks and buds, they are very drought-tolerant because of their extensive root system. A generous mulch in Spring will help retain the moisture. Hemerocallis do love sun though, so don’t be tempted to plant them in the shade or under trees.


I should mention dead-heading. You don’t really need to for the health and vigour of the plant; the amount of energy used in seed production is insignificant. It does make the plant look a lot tidier though. Spent blooms just hang there looking either soggy of crispy depending on the weather.

You’ll probably want to divide your clumps every three years or so when they get a bit congested. They’re easily divided in the Autumn or Spring when they’re dormant. Re-plant the small clumps and you’ll soon have fantastic verdant drifts – or lots of plants to give away if you’re short on space…

To eat or not to eat

Native to Eastern Asia, hemerocallis were originally introduced to this country as a culinary and medicinal herb. The dried, unopened buds of H. citrina are sold in Asian markets as ‘Golden Needles‘, used to thicken soups. Fresh buds can be used in salads or stir-fried. If you haven’t eaten them before, as with anything new, try just a small amount first in case you’re allergic.

I think it’s a bit of a travesty to eat them though. They’re so beautiful, let them be beautiful for a day and enjoy their delicious perfume and exotic-looking flowers.

View our full range of hemerocallis HERE


Hen Marcar

Plantarea Sales Assistant

Hemerocallis (Day lily)

Comments (1)

I took a Chinese cooking class years ago and we used day lily bulbs right after they finished blooming. They tasted fine. Daylilies in vinegar or bottled citrus juice are nice, especially from the vibrantly colored ones. Color doesn't last, it mellows.

I read some papers about daylilies being native to the United States, and when the Chinese first purchased them. They dug up day lilies from older homestead sites and planted them in an old Quarry. I had visited the Quarry. Doesn't look the same. They have put in an impoundment lot in an area that floods and aesthetically it s not the same. Dumb old Columbus Ohio. These daylilies were banked in mounded soil and most bloom fine there also.Two types bloomed. They thought the Chinese bought two types: the single and a smaller semi double, which blooms shortly after the single. Neither produce seeds unlike the lemon lily. Later the same plants were resold by the Chinese.
Cindy donahey | 19/12/2017
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