Daylilies forum: Taking the guess work out of ordering online?

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Name: Ben
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Jul 18, 2020 5:31 PM CST
This is the first year I have blooming daylilies. I ordered online last year, nurtured the baby fans I was sent and they have finally blooming this year.

I am a little dissapointed at some of the colors and height of the scapes I picked out. I was going for a yellow and red theme throughout the mixed daylily border planted.

I poured over alot of forums and read many description on websites. Thought I had it figured out with what to buy. And placed my order.

This year many of the plants picked out are not coming out to be what I expected. Many of the red and burgundy flowers are way more purple and maroon than would have liked. And the yellows seem very washed out.

Also the scape length are barely rising to the described length. Being much shorter than anticipated.

I will say that i have found my favorite plant so far to be "autumn red", it seems to be the only one that has stood up to the description. And a plus is that it was a relatively cheap plant. I think i might scrap my idea of a mixed bed and just go with straight autumn red for the whole length.

Is there anything you have learned about picking plants just from description and pictures when ordering online?

Thanks for reading my ramblings,
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Name: Tim
West Chicago, IL (Zone 5a)
Daylilies Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower
Jul 18, 2020 6:02 PM CST
I remember that disappointment well when I was new to daylilies.

One of the things that helped me was the daylily database they have here at

You can search by the name of any plant you want to look into, or I usually just google something like "Daylily Autumn Red" and look for the entry from Garden.Org. What you get there are pictures of what the plants look like by average gardeners by me, so you aren't making decisions based on the seller's perfect pictures. I don't know if everyone is like me, but I only "like" a picture if it looks like the bloom from my garden. Generally, the pictures with the most likes seem to be the ones that look like the flower will eventually look like in your garden.

Then the other thing that will help you beat that disappointing feeling is time. If you do it for a few years, you'll learn that most daylilies don't perform that well the first year or sometimes two years, after they have been ripped out of the ground, removed from any soil, and shipped around the country. So if this is the first year you are seeing the blooms and scape heights, they will probably get better and better the next couple years. Try not to judge them too soon.

Also when you have done it longer, you learn other tricks, like if you are in the north, you have to be leery of "evergreen" daylilies, and if you are in the south, you need to be leery of "dormant" daylilies. And if you are in the north, and you buy from a seller in the south, you have to accept the longer growing season they have will yield taller scapes and more blooms and "rebloom" and things like that. And also in time you'll learn how weather impacts how tall your scapes get every year as well. Like, at least half of my plants have shorter scapes this year because we only had 7/10ths of an inch of rain in June, and I didn't have time to water enough.

Hang in there! Eventually you'll start finding some that are better than you figured they would be, and it's all worth while.
Name: Darcy
Reno, NV (Zone 6b)
Jul 18, 2020 6:09 PM CST
I agree with Tim - the photos on this website are very helpful and a lot of times more "true". I am having the same situation with first time bloomers being a lot shorter than they should be, but since the photos match the names, I'm just holding out that they just haven't become acclimated to my garden yet.
Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
Bee Lover Garden Photography Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: United States of America
Region: Indiana Garden Art Annuals Clematis Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 2
Jul 18, 2020 6:14 PM CST
Ben, sorry to hear of your disappointing experience after all that work, research, and money. A lot of daylilies take a couple of years to reach their registered height, so you might want to give them another year at least for them to get settled in.

As far as the color, I have found that some sites enhance the photos so much that the colors don't look like they do in the garden. Not sure if that is the case with your daylilies. I really like the database on this site because it shows daylilies growing in gardens all over.
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Name: Jill
Baltimore, MD (Zone 7b)
Daylilies Hellebores Cat Lover Region: Maryland Garden Photography Butterflies
Bee Lover
Jul 18, 2020 6:21 PM CST
Since you are in Maryland you might want to connect with the Free State Daylily Society and get daylilies that are locally grown. In years when there isn't a pandemic we have a club sale in early August and you can get some great plants for fabulous prices and talk to club members about the plant attributes to see if it is what you want. Unfortunately our sale is going to be greatly abbreviated and for members only do to physical distancing requirements this year. I don't know where you are located in Maryland but if you treemail me I might be able to pass some nice plants your way Whistling
Name: Ben
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Jul 18, 2020 7:07 PM CST
Thanks for all the quick replies and advice.

I figured that the pictures i was looking at could have been enhanced. But i didnt expect them to be so enhanced that they turned out to be a completley different shade of red or yellow.

I had an idea that it could be them being new plants and having to turn into a established clump before getting the full height and bud count. There are a few in particular that I an definitely taking out this year. They were way to small and way off color. I might be able to find a spot somewhere for them, if not i will send them on there way to friends and neighbors who may appreciate them more than i did.

Being a beginner with daylilies is going to be something i will have to overcome with patuence and experimenting with different plants. I am way more versed in trees and shrubs but now have a house that needs some extra color besides green leaves.

With me being in marlyland is there a specific type of daylily that does better here between evergreen and dormant. I guessed that because its never below 0 degrees in winter i would be able to grow both.

Thank you jillz for the offer. I will reach out to you through treemail.

Thanks for all the suggestions and replies,
Name: David McCausland
Horseheads, NY (Zone 5a)
Daylilies Region: New York Enjoys or suffers cold winters Plant and/or Seed Trader Hybridizer Hostas
Jul 19, 2020 4:07 AM CST

I don't know where you live in MD, but I lived in Howard County and had lots of clay. That affected many colors. I remember the pinks looked more melon. When I moved to NY, I discovered that I did not have any clay, ( a lot of rocks) and the pinks were now pink. Just a thought. Jill is correct, the Free State Daylily Society is a wonderful place to talk about the plants and visit local gardens to see what the plants look like for yourself.


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