Ask a Question forum: Cutting Back Daylilies in The Fall

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Name: Karen
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
Region: Minnesota Garden Art Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Aug 25, 2014 9:14 AM CST
I would like to know how others in zone 4 handle all the foliage in the fall, and how early you do it. I like to cut my daylily foliage down to about 12 " around the end of September, and then I clean up the remainder in the spring. I want to get it cleaned up so I can put our oak leaves around the plants as we rake them up. Is this too early, and what does everyone else do. I would also like to know if you fertilize at this time.
Thanks for the input!!!!
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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Aug 25, 2014 9:18 PM CST
Karen, my daughter's garden in Salt Lake City is zone 5 or some say 6 and I've grown some daylilies there for years. Just planted several new ones for her there this spring, in fact. I also lived there until 2002 and had them in my own garden. So I'll venture to answer you - to be honest, I'd never cut off any daylily foliage while it was still green. You can always remove yellow or brown leaves to keep the plants tidy, but leave all the green alone.

The green leaves are making food for the plant. Late in the season, the plant is growing more roots, so that it will put up more fans and make a bigger clump next year. I generally left the dead foliage and cleaned it up in the spring, as you said you do, too. Why not, it just helps to mulch the plant over the winter. I also always piled up leaves and some extra wood chip mulch around the bases of the daylilies and iris as well as other perennials to help them survive the winter.

Unless you anticipate more growth, and some re-bloom on your daylilies, I wouldn't fertilize them now. Especially in zone 4.

Umm, just curious. How come you didn't post this question on the Daylilies forum?

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Name: Bob
Vernon N.J. (Zone 6a)
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Aug 25, 2014 10:25 PM CST
Mine are not really in a garden, but grow on the outside of my fence. At over 100 feet long it would be a lot to cut by hand , so in early Oct. I set the lawn mower on high and use it to cut them down. I have been doing this for many years without any problems. I know it sounds kind of crude but it works well. I have always fed mine in early Spring with fish or kelp fertilizer just as they start to emerge.

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