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Aug 19, 2019 1:15 PM CST
Name: Walter Fritsch Jr
Connecticut (Zone 6a)
Retired Gone Postal, Retired Army T
I have some daylilies which I would like some info on cutting them back in the fall. I also would like to know if it is wise during the growing season to dead head the spent blossoms just like many other plants??
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Aug 19, 2019 9:24 PM CST
Name: Tim
West Chicago, IL (Zone 5a)
Daylilies Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower
Hey Wally!

So know one gets mad, a lot of this is just repeating things that have been written earlier this season in different threads. So it's a little like plagiarism, I suppose, but it answers your questions. Credit to all those that put these thoughts together previously.

Deadheading: If you do not cross your plants to collect the seeds, to me it seems wise to deadhead. Otherwise your plant can expend energy on growing bee pods that you don't even want and don't really look that nice. In reality, I think deadheading is more cosmetic than helpful to your plant. And some people live head. So instead of going around first thing in the morning to pinch off the wet, spent blooms, go around at dusk and do it while they are still actual blooms. It's much more pleasant than dealing with mush mummies. I collect seeds, so I don't deadhead so much. Not many things sting as much as removing a spent bloom for a picture, and then remembering you crossed that bloom for seeds the day before.

Cutting back scapes: Again, if you don't collect seeds, as soon as your blooms are done, you can cut them off down by the ground. Don't be too aggressive and dig into the dirt or you can harm the crown. If the scapes are completely brown, you can just pull them. If they are still green, even just at the bottom, it's better to cut them or risk damaging your plant. Your scapes will stay green as long as there are developing seed pods or prolifs. If you don't care about seed pods or prolifs, cut them down at will.

Foliage: Theoretically, if it's green, it's generating energy that your plant can use for root growth in the fall or store for a better spring. You are always welcome to pull or trim off brown leaves and tips. I read a book by Tracy DiSabato-Aust that refers to this as deadleafing, and the maintenance step that happens after all the deadheading. Your question was, does you plant benefit by cutting it back. Well, it seems your daylilies are better off keeping all the green leaves they can. However, Tracy does realize sometimes the leaf deterioration can be bad or some people don't have time to deadleaf the rest of the year. So she does give advice if you want to cut back your leaves. She suggests if you see new leaf growth you can cut back to there, or just cutting it all the way down to 3 inches above the ground. She says it will take several weeks to a month to get new foliage to replace what you cut if you cut it low. I guess that means you need to do this at least a month before you expect frost. Tracy suggests just using hedge sheers for cutting foliage.

Tracy's book that I paraphrase is "The Well-Tended Perennial Garden", for reference.
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Aug 19, 2019 9:31 PM CST
Name: Diana
Lincoln, NE (Zone 5b)
Daylilies Region: Nebraska Organic Gardener Dog Lover Bookworm
Well put! Thumbs up
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Aug 19, 2019 11:49 PM CST
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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New to this forum, just the advise I needed concerning daylily maintenance! Thank You!
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
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Aug 20, 2019 6:35 AM CST
Name: Tim
West Chicago, IL (Zone 5a)
Daylilies Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower
Welcome, Lynda! Welcome!
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Aug 20, 2019 8:05 AM CST
Name: Valerie
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Bee Lover Ponds Peonies Irises Garden Art Dog Lover
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Welcome! , Lynda!
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Aug 20, 2019 2:14 PM CST
Name: Walter Fritsch Jr
Connecticut (Zone 6a)
Retired Gone Postal, Retired Army T
Most appreciated for all your advise. TOTALLY THOROUGH, Many Thanks!!!
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Aug 20, 2019 6:24 PM CST
Name: Tim
West Chicago, IL (Zone 5a)
Daylilies Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower
Happy to help, Wally.
Avatar for AlexKr
Jul 14, 2021 9:29 PM CST
Woodbridge, NJ
Lyshack said:Hey Wally!

So know one gets mad, a lot of this is just repeating things that have been written earlier this season in different threads. So it's a little like plagiarism, I suppose, but it answers your questions. Credit to all those that put these thoughts together previously.

Deadheading: If you do not cross your plants to collect the seeds, to me it seems wise to deadhead. Otherwise your plant can expend energy on growing bee pods that you don't even want and don't really look that nice. In reality, I think deadheading is more cosmetic than helpful to your plant. And some people live head. So instead of going around first thing in the morning to pinch off the wet, spent blooms, go around at dusk and do it while they are still actual blooms. It's much more pleasant than dealing with mush mummies. I collect seeds, so I don't deadhead so much. Not many things sting as much as removing a spent bloom for a picture, and then remembering you crossed that bloom for seeds the day before.

Cutting back scapes: Again, if you don't collect seeds, as soon as your blooms are done, you can cut them off down by the ground. Don't be too aggressive and dig into the dirt or you can harm the crown. If the scapes are completely brown, you can just pull them. If they are still green, even just at the bottom, it's better to cut them or risk damaging your plant. Your scapes will stay green as long as there are developing seed pods or prolifs. If you don't care about seed pods or prolifs, cut them down at will.

Foliage: Theoretically, if it's green, it's generating energy that your plant can use for root growth in the fall or store for a better spring. You are always welcome to pull or trim off brown leaves and tips. I read a book by Tracy DiSabato-Aust that refers to this as deadleafing, and the maintenance step that happens after all the deadheading. Your question was, does you plant benefit by cutting it back. Well, it seems your daylilies are better off keeping all the green leaves they can. However, Tracy does realize sometimes the leaf deterioration can be bad or some people don't have time to deadleaf the rest of the year. So she does give advice if you want to cut back your leaves. She suggests if you see new leaf growth you can cut back to there, or just cutting it all the way down to 3 inches above the ground. She says it will take several weeks to a month to get new foliage to replace what you cut if you cut it low. I guess that means you need to do this at least a month before you expect frost. Tracy suggests just using hedge sheers for cutting foliage.

Tracy's book that I paraphrase is "The Well-Tended Perennial Garden", for reference.


Why leave 3 inches? Why not cut down shorter?
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Jul 15, 2021 2:11 AM CST
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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To cut it shorter can affect the plants health. It takes the plant much longer to recover if you cut the leaves shorter than 3". Ive learned this from experience. Thumbs up
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
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Jul 15, 2021 3:28 PM CST
Name: Orion
Boston, MA (Zone 6b)
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Was it somewhere on this forum, perhaps, I read that the dead leaves provide insulation over winter so it may be better to leave them (pardon the pun), at least in colder climates? Cannot seem to recall where I got that info into my head. But I guess I do use leaf mulch elsewhere in my garden so it must have struck a note in my mind.
Gardening: So exciting I wet my plants!
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Jul 15, 2021 3:35 PM CST
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Tomato Heads Salvias Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Peppers
Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Morning Glories Master Gardener: Arkansas Lilies Hummingbirder
Well, I'm sure not sure about that! Day lilies are categorized as dormant, semi dormant and evergreen; so those that are dormant and semi dormant will be losing their foliage in the winter, anyway.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
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Jul 15, 2021 4:00 PM CST
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Forum moderator Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Level 1
Living in a "cooler" climate, I leave the foliage and clean it up in the spring, does not seem to be a detriment to the plants.
As Yogi Berra said, “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
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Jul 15, 2021 11:55 PM CST
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
Bee Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Tomato Heads Salvias Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Peppers
Organic Gardener Native Plants and Wildflowers Morning Glories Master Gardener: Arkansas Lilies Hummingbirder
I mostly do this, too, although I do trim the leaves now, they just look better that way. I'm kind of OCD about yellowing leaves in my garden!
I own all three kinds of day lilies; with the dormant ones I just wait until I see the new growth pushing up in the spring before pulling the dead winter foliage.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
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Jul 16, 2021 6:19 AM CST
Name: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
If the leaves are green then they are still producing the resources that the plant needs. If they are yellowing then the leaf is breaking down and some of the material is being scavenged to reuse in other growth right away or being stored for future growth or both. If the scape is green then the same thing applies to the scape.
At some time when the leaves are yellowing the export of material to other locations in the daylily has finished and the leaves can be removed without any loss whatsoever. If the leaves are removed before that time then the result depends on how you grow your daylilies. If you provide sufficient fertilizer often enough then there should be no noticeable effect if the leaves are removed early. At the other extreme, if the plants are rarely, if ever fertilized, then over the years the growth of the plant will likely suffer noticeably.
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Jul 16, 2021 6:50 AM CST
Name: pam
gainesville fl (Zone 8b)
Bee Lover The WITWIT Badge Region: Ukraine Enjoys or suffers hot summers Pollen collector Native Plants and Wildflowers
Hydrangeas Hummingbirder Dragonflies Daylilies Butterflies Birds
What do you do with the prolifs with no roots. Cleaning up my plants I notice they are on almost every scape this year. Scapes are brown and, like I say, cleaning up a bit, Im stumped with these.
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Jul 17, 2021 10:18 AM CST

Pam for proliferation's with no roots- use a rooting hormone at the base. Cut scape 1-2 inches abode and below. You can put in water or a well drained pot and put in partial sun til it gets established
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