Daylilies forum→How to cut back daylilies at the end of season.

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Name: Walter Fritsch Jr
Connecticut (Zone 6a)
Retired Gone Postal, Retired Army T
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Wally2007
Aug 19, 2019 1:15 PM CST
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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Name: Tim
West Chicago, IL (Zone 5a)
Daylilies Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower
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Lyshack
Aug 19, 2019 9:24 PM CST
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.
Name: Diana
Lincoln, NE (Zone 5b)
Daylilies Region: Nebraska Organic Gardener Dog Lover Bookworm
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ShakespearesGarden
Aug 19, 2019 9:31 PM CST
Well put! Thumbs up
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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
Aug 19, 2019 11:49 PM CST
New to this forum, just the advise I needed concerning daylily maintenance! Thank You!
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Mother Teresa
Name: Tim
West Chicago, IL (Zone 5a)
Daylilies Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower
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Lyshack
Aug 20, 2019 6:35 AM CST
Welcome, Lynda! Welcome!
Name: Valerie
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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touchofsky
Aug 20, 2019 8:05 AM CST
Welcome! , Lynda!
Touch_of_sky on the LA
Name: Walter Fritsch Jr
Connecticut (Zone 6a)
Retired Gone Postal, Retired Army T
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Wally2007
Aug 20, 2019 2:14 PM CST
Most appreciated for all your advise. TOTALLY THOROUGH, Many Thanks!!!
Name: Tim
West Chicago, IL (Zone 5a)
Daylilies Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower
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Lyshack
Aug 20, 2019 6:24 PM CST
Happy to help, Wally.
Woodbridge, NJ
AlexKr
Jul 14, 2021 9:29 PM CST
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?
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
Jul 15, 2021 2:11 AM CST
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
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Mother Teresa
Name: Orion
Boston, MA (Zone 6b)
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plasko20
Jul 15, 2021 3:28 PM CST
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.
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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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gardenfish
Jul 15, 2021 3:35 PM CST
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
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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crawgarden
Jul 15, 2021 4:00 PM CST
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.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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gardenfish
Jul 15, 2021 11:55 PM CST
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
Name: Maurice
Grey County, Ontario (Zone 4b)
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admmad
Jul 16, 2021 6:19 AM CST
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.
Maurice
Name: pam
gainesville fl (Zone 8b)
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gardenglory
Jul 16, 2021 6:50 AM CST
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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Eagleriver
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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