Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Upper South
June, 2012
Regional Report

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Look for new ways to use daylilies in your garden this year.

Daylilies in the Garden

While attending a recent Gardener's Fair, I bought a pamphlet on landscaping with daylilies published by the American Hemerocallis Society in 1990. This collection of articles taken from the Society's past publications provided some insight into various ways to approach using daylilies in the garden, a subject I've wrestled with over the years.

My mother was a daylily fanatic. She had rows of them, beds of them, and interspersed them among other perennials. For years, I never particularly shared her enthusiasm, but as I've attempted to save her collection, I've found myself learning to love and appreciate them. Let's face it, daylilies are one of the workhorses of the garden, seemingly almost indestructible. I've transplanted them at "incorrect" times, only to have them thrive. Some have been left sitting on top of the ground for years, growing and blooming. Others have waited patiently, in buckets of water, for me to find the "right" spot for them. The ones that did manage to get planted and carefully tended have far exceeded my expectations. They make the garden a joy to behold for several months each year.

With plant hybridizers developing more and more varieties of daylilies, there are now colors available in almost every shade except blue. There are daylilies growing only 2 feet tall, while others will reach to 5 feet or more. Newer types produce an abundance of bloom and many rebloom.

One major focus of plant breeding has been to develop daylilies that bloom well into the evening, making them able to be enjoyed by those who work a day job. With so many possibilities, it seems a pity that many people limit their use of daylilies to a foundation planting of 'Stella d'Oro'. Don't take that as a criticism but as a gentle inducement to add more daylilies throughout your garden and in more creative ways.

As Ethel M. Helms, of Monroe, North Carolina, wrote in the aforementioned Hemerocallis Society pamphlet, "No perennial is more admirably suited for landscape use than the daylily. Adaptable to such a wide range of cultural conditions, plus the fact that they come in almost every height and hue, the daylily has proven that almost any one can become an artist and create living, impressive pictures in the garden."

Using Daylilies With Other Flowers
Although there are now thousands of daylily varieties, the colors that predominate are shades of yellow and peach. The obvious association is with other flowers in the same hues, such as coreopsis, the new hybrid coneflowers in shades of orange, gaillardias, yellow or peach-colored roses, crocosmias, red-hot pokers, or yellow-flowered yarrows.

Blue companion plants are another beautiful choice to combine with these daylilies. Some of the blue-flowered plants to consider include balloon flower, ageratum, 'Victoria' salvia, verbena, delphinium, larkspur, 'Rozanne' geranium, or love-in-a-mist.

Combining daylilies in shades of red, purple, or pink is a trickier business. When thinking about combining these colors of daylilies with other flowers, it's wise, if possible, to hold a flower of the daylily you're considering next to the other flower or flowers. A "pink" daylily is not necessarily the same as a "pink" rose. Not to say that it isn't possible. One of the best combinations in my garden is a bed centered with the red-flowered 'Major Wheeler' honeysuckle and surrounded with plantings of 'Earlybird Cardinal' daylily, a long-blooming 2010 introduction from Dr. Darrel Apps.

Showcasing a Daylily Collection
As more and more daylilies follow you home, you enter the realm of being a collector. When there just isn't enough room among the other flowers, you will begin to develop beds either solely or predominantly of daylilies. You may decide to group them by plant height, flower size, bloom season, type of flower, flower color, throat color, fragrance, branching, substance, and on and on. The beds may be along a fence line or in the middle of the lawn, curving or straight. One particularly effective way to showcase daylilies is to have a hedge of evergreens behind them.

My own solution for my mother's daylily collection was to create two parallel raised beds that were part of a visual axis in the garden. Because she also collected iris, the 4-foot-wide beds were centered with a row of these. To add a vertical element as well as to give the beds appeal throughout the year, I planted three Emerald Green arborvitae equidistant in each of the 32-foot-long beds.

Learn More About Daylilies
The best way to learn more about daylilies is to visit the website of the American Hemerocallis Society at In addition to information about growing daylilies, the site has a listing of the daylily shows being held this year. Find one near you and see some of the best daylilies in your area. Even better, there are often plants available for sale. Then you'll have even more ways to be creative with daylilies.

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Today's site banner is by mcash70 and is called "Daylily 'Helen Shooter'"