The Q&A Archives: Thinning Daylilies

Question: I have a very large bed of the old fashioned orange daylilies that has been in existence for 17 years. I know that they have become way too thick and need to be thinned. I have been working on this for the last couple of years but with the size of the bed and the number of plants I do not seem to be getting anywhere. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can make some progress in this job?

Answer: What a job! To be honest, if the plants (Hemerocallis fulva, Orange Daylily or Tawny Daylily) seem healthy and bloom well you may not need to thin them. This type of daylily is naturalized in many areas and thrives with no care at all. It will simply expand its colony by its running habit (fleshy rhizomes which spread) and quickly fill in any empty spot you manage to create. This is nice because you can always share lots of it with anyone who would like some and never notice that they're gone! If however, you feel they need to be thinned, one easier way to do it would be to unceremoniously grub out alternating hunks or sections of it and then fill in the resulting holes with soil. Be careful where you dispose of the hunks because they will probably try to grow! (In general, it is the newer hybrids and especially the rebloomers which need regular division to do their best, sometimes as often as every year or every other year, and many older varieties can wait up to five years.)

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